Ever since Byson DeChambeau muscled his way to a US Open win nearly two months ago, there’s been speculation on whether the bulked up golfer will bully Augusta National at this week’s Masters. Oddsmakers certainly believe he will dominate the major championship: he’s the 8/1 favorite at William Hill, Ladbrokes, BetMGM, and Bovada, and the 9/1 pick at Circa and Westgate.
The sportsbooks believe DeChambeau can do to Augusta National what he did to Winged Foot. In a practice round on Monday, the 27-year-old gave an early indication that he very well may be able to overpower the iconic course.
DeChambeau was joined on the back nine by defending champion Tiger Woods, 1992 winner Fred Couples, and Justin Thomas. All three came away impressed with DeChambeau’s length.
Woods and Thomas were routinely 25 yards behind DeChambeau, and Couples said it took two holes for him to be blown away by his length.
“On the 11th hole (505 yards) he had a pitching wedge (for his second shot), so four days of that is a huge advantage,” Couples told reporters after the practice round. “He drove it there, he should never make a bogey. Even if he makes par everyday he’s going to pick up a shot on most people.”
DeChambeau’s Bombs are a Bad Sign for Others
With drives off the tee routinely traveling 340 yards, there’s a question of whether DeChambeau will be able to keep the ball in the fairway. During Monday’s practice round, he found the rough just once, on the 18th hole.
“All my misses have been pretty straight, as you guys have seen, and I want to keep it that way,” DeChambeau said. “I’ll take hitting it straight with a little more spin. … But if I get that spin to 2,000, I can do some things out here that are pretty cool.”
On the 16th tee box, DeChambeau complained to his swing coach, Chris Como, that he was losing 30 to 40 yards on his drives because his spin rate was too high.
DeChambeau manhandled the back nine at Augusta National on Monday. He routinely hit 340-yard drives on the nine holes he played. He reached the two par 5s easily in two shots, using a pitching wedge for his approach shot.
“Hitting a pitching wedge into 13 today was kind of fun,” DeChambeau said. “I asked Tiger what he hit on 11 [while winning his first green jacket in 1997] and he said pitching wedge. That’s what I hit today.”
Are Long Drives Enough to Win the Masters?
During the PGA Tour’s 12-week break in the spring, DeChambeau spent his time bulking up. He came back in June with 40 pounds of muscle, declaring it would help him win golf tournaments.
DeChambeau finished in the top 10 in his first four tournaments, including winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He finished tied for fourth at the PGA Championship in August, but struggled during the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs, with his best finish a 22nd at the Tour Championship.
The US Open, however, was where he put his muscle on display. Surprisingly, he was only seventh in average driving distance. DeChambeau believes once he figures out how to play Augusta National with his new length, he’ll be in good position to win the Masters.
“With the length, I’ve had to relearn the golf course,” DeChambeau said. “There are so many holes that play so much differently with this wind, especially if it stays this way. The course is really soft right now, but I’m sure it will firm up.”