Souhan; Milder DeChambeau takes first-round Masters lead

AUGUSTA, GA. – Bryson DeChambeau always wanted to be different. Thursday, he differentiated himself from the rest of the Masters field.

His 65 made him the fourth player ever to register more than one 66 or better in a Masters first round, along with Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. He took a one-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler at the end of a day that was delayed by rain and buffeted by winds before play was suspended.

Early in his career, he wore a flat driver's cap reminiscent of the one Ben Hogan wore.

He was a math prodigy who studied physics at Southern Methodist, and he obsessed over the science of golf.

He played irons with the same length shaft, a dramatic departure from golf tradition.

Desperate to break through on the PGA Tour, he added muscle and bulk with an outrageous diet and a strenuous workout program, and began training to achieve unprecedented swing speeds.

He used his power to win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2020, mashing long drives and muscling the ball out of deep rough to prove that his unorthodoxy worked.

He displayed ego and arrogance to his own detriment, saying before the 2020 Masters was held in November because of COVID that he considered the par-72 Augusta National Golf Course a "par 67″ because of his power. He finished tied for 34th.

He left the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, and now he delights in "promoting the game" via social media posts.

Thursday, DeChambeau, with new irons he helped design and an adjusted swing, made Augusta National look like a pitch-and-putt, hitting 15 greens in regulation.

So which phase of DeChambeau are we seeing? The traditionalist or innovator, the mad scientist or blooming artist, the gym rat or YouTube star?

"The golf phase," he said. "I'd say the golf phase for sure. Trying to be the best golfer I can be."

During a lengthy session in the interview room, DeChambeau sounded humbler than his previous personas, repeatedly saying he respects others' opinions even when they disagree with his idiosyncratic approach. He even said that his "par 67″ comment was a mistake.

"I mean, yeah, sure," he said. "Again, the comment was definitely misinterpreted. I said it, and I respect people's opinions on it.

"For me, I have a level of respect for this golf course that's a little bit different than a couple years ago, and clearly today was a great test of golf, and I was able to conquer a very difficult golf course today.

"Regarding the 67 comment, you know, you mess up. I'm not a perfect person. Everybody messes up. You learn from your mistakes, and that was definitely one."

DeChambeau leads by one stroke over Scheffler, his antithesis. Scheffler has kept the same, unconventional, swing throughout his life, relying on feel and flow rather than bulk and science.

Scheffler has resided at the top of the golf world without offending anyone at any time over any subject, and by remaining with the PGA Tour.

DeChambeau's love of social media? Scheffler doesn't even participate, intentionally ignoring the outside world once he leaves the golf course so he can maintain a sense of normalcy.

On ESPN, Scheffler was asked how many texts he receives after a round.

"I wasn't checking texts," Scheffler said. "I was checking scores."

Where was he headed? "I'm going to go home now and get some rest and try to get ready for the next day."

Rory McIlroy played alongside Scheffler on Thursday. "It doesn't look like he's 6 under par, and then at the end of the day, it's 6 under par," McIlroy said. ``He's just so efficient with everything."

Earlier, DeChambeau, after his best round at the Masters, bragged, "It's really awesome to see how I can affect a lot of people … junior golfers, middle-aged men even, they are coming out shouting, 'Thanks for the content. Appreciate what you do online.'"

Sure, that happened. It's a Masters tradition unlike any other — patrons yelling at golfers about online content.