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The Open Championship was always going to be a tough go for Bryson DeChambeau. His bash-the-hell-out-of-the-ball style works just fine at a normal PGA Tour venue. But at a links course, where English Channel winds reshape ball flight and waist-deep hay swallows errant shots, DeChambeau needs to either rework his thinking or start making other weekend plans.
DeChambeau hit only four of 14 fairways on Thursday, part of the reason he ended up at 1-over for the day and seven strokes behind clubhouse leader Louis Oosthuizen. After the round, he gave an impromptu equipment review:
“If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks," he said. "It’s not a good face for me, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mis-hits."
The driver sucks. That's not something you often hear from a PGA Tour pro, given the fact that they're paid to, you know, promote their equipment. DeChambeau uses a Cobra Radspeed driver that's 46 inches long, with 5 degrees of loft, a club specifically crafted exclusively for DeChambeau himself.
Cobra, the maker of DeChambeau's driver, responded to DeChambeau's assessment ... and turned what had been a calm Thursday into yet another day of DeChambeau-sparked turmoil.
“Everybody is bending over backwards. We’ve got multiple guys in R&D ... trying to get this and that into the pipeline faster. (Bryson) knows it,” Ben Schomin, Cobra's tour operations manager, told Golfweek. “It’s just really, really painful when he says something that stupid.”
Schomin has a unique, and inside, perspective here: Not only is he working with DeChambeau's exacting specifications on a daily basis, he actually caddied for DeChambeau two weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. DeChambeau and his longtime caddie Tim Tucker split just hours before DeChambeau was slated to tee off, and Schomin jumped on the bag. Now, he's jumping on DeChambeau's comments.
“He has never really been happy, ever. Like, it’s very rare where he’s happy,” Schomin added. “Now he’s in a place where he’s swinging a 5-degree driver with 200 rpm of ball speed. Everybody is looking for a magic bullet. Well, the magic bullet becomes harder and harder to find the faster you swing and the lower your loft gets.”
The issue, as Golfweek notes, is that DeChambeau is pushing the envelope not just with his own physicality, but with his entire approach to the game. No player in golf history has combined DeChambeau's strength and club speed with low loft on the driver, and Cobra is trying to come up with workable drivers — seven so far this year, according to Schomin.
“It’s like an 8-year-old that gets mad at you,” Schomin said. “They might fly off the handle and say, ‘I hate you.’ But then you go. ‘Whoa, no you don’t.’ We know as adults that they really don’t mean that and I know that if I got him cornered right now and said, ‘What the hell did you say that for,’ he would say that he was mad. He didn’t really mean to say it that harshly. He knows how much everyone bends over backwards for him, but it’s still not cool.”
DeChambeau later offered a mea culpa for his outburst on Instagram, noting that "I sucked today, not my equipment." It appears that he got wind of Schomin's candid comments.
Expect DeChambeau to revisit this issue for as long as he's on the property at Royal St. George's ... and maybe expect Brooks Koepka to throw in a jab or two along the way, too.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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