At this point in Masters Week back in 2020, Bryson DeChambeau had cranked the hype meter deep into the red with bold pronouncements about how he was going to carve the course apart, driving onto other fairways to set up his short second shots.
It didn't quite work out that way; DeChambeau couldn't break out the big dogs the way he wanted to, and he finished 18 strokes off Dustin Johnson's winning score. But now the Masters has come around again, and DeChambeau already has fellow players and the few patrons in attendance astonished:
Tuesday morning at Augusta National, DeChambeau made no secret of how much he wants to claim this tournament. Speaking in sentences as winding and multisyllabic as his drives are long, DeChambeau bracketed topic after topic, from his own health to the state of Georgia's election laws, but the focus always came back to claiming a green jacket.
“This has been on my radar since I was a kid,” DeChambeau said. “Now that I've accomplished winning the U.S. Open, this is the next goal for me.”
He also tried to break down how he came up short in 2020 at Augusta: “Given what I learned from the Masters last November, I'm going to be focusing mainly on accomplishing how do I hit iron shots into greens to give myself the best chance to give myself the ability to make birdie," he said. "There was a lot of times last year where I hit decent enough drives, but I just didn't feel like I was hitting shots in the correct quadrants of the greens or giving myself opportunities on par 5s like I should have."
DeChambeau's stats for the 2021 season are as impressive as ever. He ranks first in total shots gained, shots gained off the tee, shots gained tee to green, driving distance, eagles, and scoring average. If there's a flaw in his game, it's his driving accuracy — he ranks only 133rd on Tour — but every other facet of his game appears on track. As a result, he's one of the favorites in this tournament at +1100, per BetMGM, behind only Dustin Johnson.
DeChambeau didn’t back down from expectations that he’ll be in the hunt come Sunday, and he expects that his distance off the tee will help. “I think there is a place where I do put an expectation value that, yeah, I think I have a good chance to play well here,” he said. “There are certain holes out here where length does help tremendously. And so as you look at it from a statistical point of view, there is a lot of advantages to be had with length for me. ... Length is only as good as you can hit your next shot.”
That's what will be key for him: not just moonshot drives, but strategic play afterward.
“The most important thing about Augusta National, is it doesn't test just the driving. It tests your second shots, it tests the third shot," he said. "I think that's what's so special about here is that you have to have every facet of your game working really, really well.”
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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