AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bryson DeChambeau isn’t afraid to let it rip — with his clubs or his mouth.
Both caused him some trouble at the Masters this week.
The reigning U.S. Open champion raised eyebrows at Augusta National when he said he thought of the par-72 course as a par 67 because of his ability to reach the par 5s in two shots and the 350-yard, par-4 third in one.
But DeChambeau wasn’t able to back that up Thursday in the opening round, shooting a 2-under 70 to end the day five strokes behind leader Paul Casey. He played the par 5s at 1 under — not bad, but not where he could have been if it weren’t for a double bogey on No. 13, the very first par 5 he encountered in the tournament.
“I tried to take on some risk today. It didn’t work out as well as I thought it would have," he said. “This golf course, as much as I’m trying to attack it, it can bite back. It’s still Augusta National, and it’s the Masters. It’s an amazing test of golf no matter what way you play it.”
After bulking up by more than 40 pounds during the coronavirus shutdown and muscling his way to earn his first major victory at Winged Foot in September, DeChambeau arrived in Augusta confident that a second — and some low scores — were within reach.
"I'm looking at it as a par 67 for me," he said Monday. "If the conditions stay the way they are, that’s what I feel like par is for me. There is definitely a possibility I don’t play well, and I could shoot whatever every day, and shoot a lot over par relative to my par and still play decent.”
DeChambeau, who gladly traded the penalty of missing fairways for the extra yardage off the tee in the U.S. Open, said he also would be swinging for home runs again at Augusta National, especially on the par 5s.
And, for the most part, it worked: He had a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 15, one from 23 feet on No. 2 and another from 37 feet on No. 8. Each time he settled for a birdie.
But then there was that other par 5: No. 13, a 510-yard dogleg left.
DeChambeau hit his drive 313 yards into the pine straw behind a tree. He admitted he got greedy on his second shot, which failed to draw and went left into the azalea bushes behind the green.
It took a lengthy search to find the ball so DeChambeau could take a drop and avoid playing his provisional ball, which he hit into a tributary of Rae’s Creek and would have left him lying 5. (It was his second provisional of the day; he also hit one on No. 11.)
Even with the drop, he had a downhill slope and an azalea blocking his backswing and he duffed it.
“I just got too cute with it, and it came out a little dead,” DeChambeau said. “I should have been smarter and hit it out, took my medicine and hit it on the green."
He pitched to 10 feet from the hole on his fifth shot but two-putted for double bogey.
Not a 4, his self-invented par for the hole.
Not a 5, the score to shoot for for everyone else at Augusta National, from Bobby Jones to President Dwight Eisenhower to Tiger Woods.
Not even a 6, a reasonably mediocre score.
Did DeChambeau learn his lesson?
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll hit it in the fairway and have a different opportunity for birdie — if not eagle," he said.
“Sometimes I can get a little greedy, and I like taking risks,” DeChambeau said. “You’ve got to take risks to win tournaments, and albeit I made double from it, I still think over the course of four days, I can get that back to under par.”
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