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By Ed Osmond
SANDWICH, England (Reuters) - Bryson DeChambeau was booed by the British Open crowd at Royal St George's on Friday when he opted to hit his tee shot at the first hole of his second round with an iron rather than a driver.
The long-hitting American had apologised on Thursday for what he described as "very unprofessional" comments he made about his Cobra driver after a wayward opening 71.
DeChambeau assumed the role of pantomime villain as he stood on the first tee, turning to acknowledge the spectators as they voiced their disapproval at his decision not to use the most powerful club in his bag.
The 2020 U.S. Open champion had the last laugh, however, when he sent his iron shot on to the fairway and after a rollercoaster level-par 70 he narrowly survived the halfway cut.
DeChambeau made steady pars on the first three holes but his struggles resumed with a bogey at the fourth and another at the fifth left him at three over.
The driver did come out at the par-five seventh hole and a 10-foot putt earned DeChambeau his first birdie of the day but he completely misread a putt on the eighth green, leaving it 15 feet short of the flag, and another bogey duly followed.
The American played a delightful chip into the ninth green en route to another birdie and although another bogey came at the 10th, he conjured up birdies at the 15th and 16th holes to move back to one over.
Nerveless putts at the last two holes completed DeChambeau's rescue mission and he received warm applause from the galleries before leaving the arena to prepare for the weekend.
A Cobra official described DeChambeau as behaving on Thursday like "an 8-year-old that gets mad at you".
DeChambeau, who put on about 30 pounds of muscle to become the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, said his driver "sucks" after he found only four of 14 fairways in his opening round.
(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Pritha Sarkar)