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Golf Hulk has arrived in Augusta, and the home of the Masters may never be the same.
Bryson DeChambeau, easily the most fascinating story in golf this year, is bringing out the big dog — a 48-inch driver — at Augusta National, testing the very limits of legal equipment, the golf course, and sanity. Already legendary for his constant tinkering and number-crunching, the defending U.S. Open champion is now figuring out how exactly to overwhelm Augusta with sheer distance.
One key element: a driver the size of a third-grader.
“I tested it [Monday] for the first time," DeChambeau said Tuesday. "And we've gone through at least three or four iterations of the shaft, and this is the most promising one yet."
The 48-inch driver, the longest permissible in competition, has added 4 to 5 miles per hour of ball speed at a swing speed of up to 144 mph. In other words: he’s going to be able to reach parts of the course no other player has ever touched off the tee.
For instance, he’s hoping to cut the corner on the 445-yard first hole, clearing the trees at the top of the hill that runs up to the green. And on the fabled 13th, where the tee box has been moved almost back to South Carolina already, he’s planning to just howitzer the ball all the way into the 14th fairway and play an easy approach from there.
When a 400-yard drive is in your repertoire, there’s not much on a course the age of Augusta National that’s out of your reach.
“I'm not 100 percent sure if I'll put it in play yet just because of the unknown,” DeChambeau said. “It's so close to the Masters, but if it is an improvement in every facet of launch conditions, then I don't see why not."
Patrons won’t be allowed in at this year’s Masters, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that DeChambeau might just deliver a tee shot into their home no matter where they live. DeChambeau leads the PGA Tour in driving at an average of 344.4 yards, up 22 yards from last year ... when he also led the Tour.
“From a driving perspective, I just am trying to get up there like I'm in a batter's box, swinging as hard as I can trying to hit a home run,” DeChambeau said. “I don't know if there's a better way to say it.”
DeChambeau, who’s a +750 favorite to win, will start his Masters week at 7:33 Thursday morning alongside Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen. He’ll go off the 10th tee, the hardest on the course, so we’ll know with one swing just how hard he’s planning to attack Augusta National.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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