Who is Bryson DeChambeau? The Masters leader who is friends with Donald Trump

Ever since Bryson DeChambeau first made his mark in the world of golf, the “mad scientist” has always done things in his own unique way. Whether through his meticulous studies of golfing theory and an obsessive desire to break down the mechanisms of the perfect swing, or his unparalleled commitment to “bulking season” and an unprecedented physical transformation that added even more power to his monstrous drive, the Californian has left no stone unturned in his relentless pursuit of perfection across 18 holes.

His best-ever start to the Masters, taking a one-shot lead at 7-under-par into the second round Friday, was perhaps the clearest sign yet that DeChambeau is about to reap the benefits of his tireless work. DeChambeau is already a major champion, romping to a dominant six-shot victory at the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot, but the 30-year-old showed a different side to his game as he put the finishing touches on an opening round of 65. Can DeChambeau conquer Augusta National, and tame the danger that lurks behind the tranquillity of Amen Corner?

But  it takes more than a powerful drive to become a Masters champion, and DeChambeau has learned that the hard way.

In 2020, DeChambeau arrived at the Masters and boasted that Augusta should be a “par-67” for him because he could reach all of its four par-fives in two shots. DeChambeau promptly finished in a tie for 34th, 18 strokes behind the winning total set by a runaway Dustin Johnson. "Regarding the 67 comment, you mess up, I’m not a perfect person,” DeChambeau said this week. "You learn from your mistakes and that was definitely one."

Certainly, those ill-judged comments played into the perception of DeChambeau as the hulking, brash all-American, whose crushing drives of over 400 yards were met by the boorish roars of ‘LET IT RIIIIIIP’ from fans by the tee box as he became a star in the US.

DeChambeau was polarising but he was also box-office, which made him a must-have for LIV Golf, the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway series, as it started its outlandish attempts to tempt the biggest names in the sport with mega-money contracts. DeChambeau joined LIV in June 2022, making him one of the most biggest players to defect from the PGA Tour in the early days of golf’s bitter civil war.

DeChambeau’s second appearance on the LIV circuit came at Bedminster, New Jersey - or rather, at Trump National Golf Club. DeChambeau’s connection with Donald Trump goes back years, and the American says he is “very lucky to have a relationship” with the former US President and devoted amateur golfer. DeChambeau and Trump have played together, and, along with two-time major champion Johnson, DeChambeau signed up to play the LIV Bedminster pro-am with Trump, teeing off in the same group.

Bryson DeChambeau and Donald Trump played together at the LIV Bedminster Pro-Am (Getty Images)
Bryson DeChambeau and Donald Trump played together at the LIV Bedminster Pro-Am (Getty Images)

"It was an honour," DeChambeau said. "I mean, anytime you get to play with a president, whether passed or sitting, it’s just an honour, no matter who it is. Very lucky to have a relationship with him, and he’s always been generous to me." In an exclusive interview with Trump’s own website, DeChambeau added: “I am extremely honoured to represent Trump Golf and have the relationship with the Trump Organization that I have.” DeChambeau, meanwhile, highlighted his preparations at another Trump course, at Doral in Florida, as a factor behind his strong Masters start.

As a LIV player, DeChambeau has set records on the 54-hole circuit, including carding a round of 58 at The Greenbrier in 2023 (Trump took to his Truth Social account to brand DeChambeau “Mr 58” after that record round). He believes he is a more patient golfer now than he was following his major breakthrough at the US Open in 2020, which came after the American beefed up his weight to more than 100kg - adding more than almost 20 extra kg of muscle and mass, committing to a diet of around 3,500 calories a day in an effort to hit the ball harder and further than anyone else.

The transformation came when golf was on pause during the pandemic, as DeChambeau built a body that would obliterate his drives and see the ball fly off his club face at more than 200mph. That was the step that came after DeChambeau took on the “mad scientist” nickname, as he looked to master the angles and become a student in physics in order to perfect his golf swing, striving for advantages where no other player had thought to look - even the calculations of barometric pressure and its affect on the ball, or the decay of spin rate in altitude, have not been too far into the realms of science for DeChambeau to reach.

DeChambeau’s approach has been scoffed at, written off, but at the Masters, and with a new respect for Augusta, he has the chance to prove everyone wrong once again.