AUGUSTA, Ga. – The lasting image from Monday’s practice day at Augusta National was Bryson DeChambeau violently ripping driver after driver on the range, with just seconds in between swings, while Vijay Singh stood behind him, leaning against his putter and grinning from ear to ear in amazement.
“I told him he’s impressive,” Singh told GolfChannel.com on Tuesday. “I wish I could do it – consistent 210 [mph] ball speed. That’s extraordinary really.”
Singh, the 2000 Masters champ and former world No. 1, was arguably DeChambeau before DeChambeau, putting extra hours in the weight room and employing a driver-heavy strategy off the tee. He won’t call it bomb and gouge, but it certainly was ultra-aggressive for the time.
At 58 years old, Singh still hits the gym hard for his age, and he told Golf Channel’s Jaime Diaz on Monday that he can only imagine what he could’ve accomplished with speed and distance had he had access to the technology and analytics that DeChambeau and today’s generation use.
DeChambeau has been flattered by the reception from his peers. When Rory McIlroy admitted that DeChambeau’s U.S. Open performance at Winged Foot sent him down a rabbit hole, DeChambeau took that as a huge compliment.
“I knew there was going to be people trying it,” DeChambeau said. “I didn't know who was going to try it, but it's not an easy task. You have to have four or five things go right in order for you to accomplish hitting it farther and hitting it straighter and implementing it on the golf course in a tournament round. And I appreciate Rory's words. From my perspective, I wasn't trying to change anybody else's game. I was just trying to play the best golf I could.”
Singh said there’s no question that more players will follow DeChambeau down similar rabbit holes in a quest to get longer. Now, whether any will succeed, that’s another question. DeChambeau’s ability to produce these astronomical numbers, Singh said, isn’t easily achieved.
“He’s hitting it long, he’s working out, he’s a hard-working guy, he spends hours and hours trying to perfect what he’s doing; it’s just pure skill right there,” Singh said Tuesday. “It’s power, but he’s got a lot of skill and I think he should keep doing it.”