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Bryson DeChambeau’s biggest weapon at Pinehurst may surprise you

Bryson DeChambeau’s biggest weapon at Pinehurst may surprise you

PINEHURST, N.C. – It’s no secret that Bryson DeChambeau bombs the golf ball.

Just a few years ago, DeChambeau bludgeoned Winged Foot into submission in route to the 2020 U.S. Open, the 30-year-old’s first and still only major title. But coming off major finishes of T-6 (Masters) and runner-up (PGA), DeChambeau is on a short list of those most likely to challenge world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler at Pinehurst No. 2.

He'll just have to do things a little differently.

“They’re completely different golf courses,” DeChambeau said of Winged Foot and Donald Ross’ classic Sandhills gem. “I'd say that for the most part, you have to focus on your wedge game around the greens [at Pinehurst]. You're not going to hit every green. You're putting and wedging has to be pristine in order to compete at this major championship and at this venue.

“Winged Foot it was a little bit of a different strategy, so most people would say [of Pinehurst], it's probably not suited best for me, I would say. But I do think I'm a pretty solid chipper and putter around the greens.”

DeChambeau knows he’s going to have to work out some kinks with his iron play at this “ball-striker’s paradise” and strike it conservatively by finding center of these turtle-back greens. But in a sense, the challenge that No. 2 poses on approach could be enough to shift the separator to, as DeChambeau states, short game and putting. (In other words, everyone is going to be scrambling more than they’re used to.)

It's those finesse aspects of the game in which DeChambeau feels most confident right now. Not driving. Not iron play.

“People are going to be like, ‘What is he even talking about? he hits it far, and it works to his advantage and whatnot,’” DeChambeau added. “But I think personally for me, my chipping and putting around the greens is what is going to aid me to give myself a good chance.”

DeChambeau, who grew up on bentgrass and poa greens, has gained confidence rolling the ball on Bermuda in recent years. He’s also limited the amount of putts he pulls, focusing on keeping his shoulder line square instead of opening them up through impact. As for chipping this week, DeChambeau is prepared to use the putter or his highest-lofted wedges, and likely nothing in between.

At the PGA, DeChambeau ranked 19th in strokes gained putting and sixth in strokes gained around the green.

“It's funny, I didn't putt very well at Augusta; I was pretty disappointed,” DeChambeau said. “I worked really hard and actually found something the week of Valhalla with my putting.

“From there, I've just been smooth sailing.”

He'll hope to keep the wind stays in his sails at Pinehurst.