AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Golf’s not-so-mad scientist Bryson DeChambeau has been putting with the flagstick in the hole for much of this year after a rule change that allowed it.
Perhaps it is too bad he did not remove the stick for his 195-yard approach shot to the final hole at Augusta National on Thursday.
Had he so, the ball might have gone in, but instead it clattered against the stick and stopped a couple of inches away for a tap-in birdie.
“Should have pulled the flagstick out,” the American joked after a six-under-par 66 that tied for the first-round lead with Ryder Cup team mate Brooks Koepka.
“But no, it was a great shot, and I was excited just to tap-in to finish off a great round.”
It was his first sub-70 score in nine rounds at Augusta, where he tied for 21st and 38th in his previous appearances.
Physics major DeChambeau has brought a level of scientific analysis to golf perhaps unmatched by a professional.
The 25-year-old former U.S. Amateur champion plays with shafts of all his irons the same length, all but unheard of until he burst onto the scene. He claims it allows for a more repeatable swing plane.
He knows that it will take a few more rides at the rodeo to learn every nuance of Augusta, where experience does not go astray.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to figure out every little nuance of this golf course in my third year playing, but what I can do is prepare as good as I can and be comfortable with my own game in any situation,” he said.
“So that when I get out here, any situation that arises, I feel I can execute and play the game that’s necessary.”
Only one under after 11 holes, there was little to suggest the fireworks to come.
“Executed a beautiful nine-iron on 12 that got me rolling,” said DeChambeau, who also birdied the final four holes.
“What a magical back nine.
“I was hitting it great all day, driving it well, just an accumulation of great golf that finally showed in the score.”
Reporting by Andrew Both