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April 8, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, we're pleased to welcome Bryson DeChambeau to the interview room.
Bryson, your last 12 months have been truly impressive, rising to No. 6 in the world with five victories including a win at the Memorial, two FedExCup victories, a win in Las Vegas and recently your first international win in Dubai.
Can you tell us about your preparations as you come into this year's Masters?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: First of all, it's an honor to be here, and thank you for having me in here, everyone, thank you.
It's been a little unique preparation this year compared to other years just because of the fact that we are really trying to fine tune some of the equipment that I have, and really trying to get that figured out, because I've had some disadvantages with a couple of the irons I've had for a little bit; and just being able to practice and getting comfortable and seeing the ball flights come out the proper way for the first time ever in my life is pretty cool.
I've been fortunate to win a lot of tournaments using the equipment that I've had so far and it's been great, and by no means is it bad at all, but there's always that little bit of room for improvement. So we've been working quite heavily this past week in trying to figure out some things that could give me an advantage this week.
THE MODERATOR: Your first Masters start in 2016, you finished as the low amateur and earned a spot in Butler Cabin. That was a great way to start out your Masters career.
What are memories of that moment and how have you changed as a player since then?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Man, 2016 was an incredible career. Obviously winning the NCAAs, the U.S. Amateur and being the low am award winner was something that obviously you'll never, ever forget.
And I'd say the coolest part of that experience was being able to step up on that tee 2016 with everyone thinking I'm pretty darned nervous and I get up there and I just smiled because I was prepared. I had played over a dozen rounds here in 2016 and was really, I thought, ready to win the tournament. I had a chance to win it and I knew I did and after 35 holes I was right there.
Unfortunately, that Holly bush, from the last hole, the 36th hole of the tournament kind of cost me a little bit, but other than that it was a fantastic ride and being the low amateur champion was fantastic.
Q. What is more important for you, to know where you want to hit it or where you want to miss it here?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: That's a great question. I would say, probably how I'm hitting it because if I know how I'm hitting it, I will eventually know where to miss it because of how I'm hitting it, if that makes sense. Is that what you're kind of asking, in a sense?
So if I'm able to repeat my motion to the level I know I can, I know what my misses are going to be. I know my parameters. If I go out there blind, per se, not really knowing what I can do, if there's an opportunity to have this huge miss or this huge standard deviation, then I don't know where to miss it, per se, I may aim way off of the target to make sure that bad shot doesn't happen.
If you're hitting it better and on average more consistent, you're going to have a better chance to understand where to miss it.
Q. Where is that balance between trying to play at a pretty good pace, and getting all the information you want to get before hitting a shot?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, that's a great question. I think we do a fantastic job of taking all the information we can in the allotted amount of time.
Now the one piece of information that a lot of people miss is the walk to the ball. There's a three‑minute walk, 2 1/2 minute walk that people don't take into account. You can gain a lot more time by walking 15 seconds quicker to the ball than you can by five seconds over a shot.
So people don't take that into account when we talk about slow play. I may be a guy that hits it up there farther than someone, and they are taking their merry time getting to their golf ball and it's behind me and I'm already up there and I can't get any of my numbers because I'm right in their line of sight.
Once they do their whole process that takes maybe 25 seconds compared to my 35‑second to 40‑second preparation to hit the shot, by the time we walk back over and get the number, do all that, you can view me as a slow player.
In the end I look at it from another standpoint saying there's a whole other piece to this puzzle that we are not looking at yet.
Q. Is there more information here on a lot of these shots, or the fact that you come back every year is there more you know already?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Definitely the experience helps. I will say the experience definitely helps, and the more I'm here, the more I can understand, start to understand what's kind of happening in these unique situations that present themselves.
Q. How much feedback from weekend golfers, every day golfers, do you get about whether the one‑length clubs have helped their game, just for average golfers?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: It's a great question. I would say every golfer that's come up to me that's been using it has always been positive.
Now they will say, sometimes, I'm struggling a little bit with the wedges, what advice do you have and I'll give them some advice. And I'll hear back eventually and they will say, it's great, I'm hitting it really good and I'm having great success with it.
Based on the stuff we found out last week, we have a way to make the wedges in the one‑length set perform just like a variable‑length set.
Q. We know that you approach things in a very personal and unique way. Does that approach extend to the Masters, to Augusta National, and if so, can you give us an example of how it might?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: I would say that this week is unique with the history, the golf that's been played out here, the rules that are out here are a little different than each and every week.
My dedication to figuring things out is the exact same. What I'm able to sometimes figure out is not as much as other places, but that's okay. Because if we can figure this stuff out in a way that's allowable, then that's a huge advantage for us.
So going back to your question, I think that I prepare as much as I possibly can that's allowed here, and I believe that my preparation is a little more intense, I would say. I have to work a little harder to get some insight into some things than other places, but that's fine. I mean, that's a part of the process, and I think the person who digs it out of the dirt the most should have a little bit of an advantage and I think that's where it's actually a positive thing.
Q. Following up on that, there are no green reading books issued here as they are at normal tournaments. How does that impact your process on the greens?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, it obviously changes a lot of what we do. Now I practiced trying to understand what one percent is, what two percent is, based on my eyes, and that's really all I can do out here is look at the slope and you know, walk over and try and find the low point and do my own process that allows me to understand where straight relatively is, and then I gauge based on how far I am, how high the hole is relative to my perception and that kind of gives me a gauge of how much slope there is in that area. Is it as precise as the greens books? Absolutely not. We still have to feel and sense with our eyes what it's going to do.
That's really all I can do and I have to practice a lot more hitting breaking putts, because I can't just bring out my compass and go, oh, it's 3 percent and here it is. I have to look at and walk around and go, okay, I'm acclimated to 3 percent.
Q. I've heard you talk about on a pre‑shot routine the air density. How do you determine that?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, that's secrets, partner. Not going to let that one go. (Laughter).
Q. We asked you this before, but what inspired you to use the same‑lengths irons, and also you said you're in tune with your equipment right now. Can you elaborate on that?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, so what inspired me to use one‑length irons, back in 2011, I was working with Mike Schy and we were trying to figure out an easier way to hit the golf ball, whether it be swing, equipment setup and everything.
I developed something called the one‑plane swing back in the day. I mean, a lot of people have talked about a one‑plane swing, but my one‑plane swing and in this one‑plane swing where we look at a camera perfectly on that plane and see if it's traveling up‑and‑down, and I was able to do it; we saw that when I switched from pitching wedge to 9‑iron, 8‑iron, 7‑iron, 6‑iron, that the line changed, obviously. And so the plane had to change.
So I had to swing on a different plane. So I was thinking, okay, what if we could make everything one plane, how would we do that. I was like, just make the lie angle the same and the shaft length the same. I know the head weights and the lengths offset each other relatively close to a 7‑iron. They always want to feel like, or a swing weight like a 7‑iron. That's what we tried to develop and design is something that would all feel like a 7‑iron, because that was actually my favorite club in the bag at that time, and make it still perform like a variable length set. We were able to do it somewhat successfully. Played some pretty good golf coming up through the ranks and was able to get on Tour because of it.
Now recently, this past week, won't give too much away, but we are now starting to understand how shafts truly work, what they do based on the mass of the club and the design of the shaft and how it creates a certain launch condition, which has been super beneficial for us in the one‑length wedges because that's always been something I struggled with. I've done really well with it but I've struggled in being able to control it as well as a guy like Kevin Na or someone out here that's an incredible wedger.
Q. As someone who was one of the early proponents of using the flagstick, how does it help you here or not, and is it different than the ones you see on the PGA TOUR, the flagstick itself?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: I'll tell you they are not that much different. If you get a unique situation where the flag isn't sitting in the cup all the way and it has some wiggle room and it is blowing towards you, there will be certain times where I will pull the flag out just because the geometry doesn't work at that point and the physics doesn't work at that point.
So for me, I really try and look and evaluate the situation, see what the best strategy is. I think that's the cool part about leaving the flagstick in now is that you start to see players' strategies come out based on what they know about the whole situation, and so for me, on a downhill putt, if it's not windy, I will definitely use it to my advantage.
Q. In addition to the no green reading books, I assume you can't take the TrackMan out with you during a practice round?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: No.
Q. How challenging is it? Do you practice this week differently than how you do the other weeks?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: I would say we still get our baselines out on the range, which is fantastic and I think it's great that we are able to do that, because then we kind of have a relative understanding of what we can do out there on the golf course and we get all our numbers beforehand.
Literally what we are doing on the golf course, when we have our devices, is just to double‑check, to make sure there's not something crazy that happened in that situation.
So we don't necessarily need it on the course, we get all of our stuff on the range, but it is nice to have that out just as an assurance mechanism. Even though we don't have it this week, it's not too terrible. It's not bad. I'm still preparing normally like I would.
Q. Since you have more room now on 13, I wonder what your thoughts are? Would you like it see it longer, how much, and why?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Are you talking about 13, moving it back?
Q. Possibly. They have 15 more yards now potentially to move the hole back.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Look, I don't know too much about course design. What I do know is that if it was moved back, everybody is going to have to play from back there. It's going to make the second shot more difficult, obviously.
As of right now, it's difficult to get it up there. It's a great test to see if somebody can gamble in a sense. See if you can get it up there and have an easier shot.
Which sometimes I like. The risk should reward, or be very rewarding if you're able to get it up there and execute properly. If it's a high‑risk shot, you should have a high reward. That's kind of what I think. And by moving it back, I'm fine with it. I think that's where a lot of the players back in the day were playing from, a little bit further back and it will make this second shot a little more difficult and a lot of people won't go for it because of that.
But to be honest with you, everybody's got to play from there. Whenever people move golf courses around and try and design it this way or that way, it's affecting the whole field, right, and everybody has to play from there. So if you're trying to design a golf course that's for the top five people, or to take that ability away from the top five people, I think that's something that needs to be talked about more because it should have a relatively beneficial effect; it should be a linear effect all the way through the Tour, not just trying to affect the top five people, because you have to realize if you're affecting the top five people, you're affecting it way worse on the lower end, the guys that can't even get there.
I think you look at it more like a cost, in a sense, of you know, like, I don't know, what was it, 1997 after Tiger won, you know, lengthening everything, kind of almost helped Tiger in a sense because he was the only one that could hit it still way out there, and the guys that were behind, were behind. That's what I heard from everybody else. We just want to make sure that it's still playable for everyone and we can still all reach it if we hit a good drive.
Q. I'm sure you're aware of the stat that two of the last three Dubai Desert Classic winners have gone on to win the Masters. Can you calculate the probability of a third one doing it in four years? And No.2, what are the factors that are going to increase the chances?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: I think a lot of it's coincidence. From a mathematical perspective, you've got to look at the time that the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic was played, how many of those players have won the Masters that same year. If you look at it from that perspective, it's not likely. But in the small sample set that you gave me, yes, it's very, very likely that it would happen, right.
So I would say that that gives me a great feel and sense that that may happen, but in preparation, you've still got to go prepare and go out and execute and win, right. So it's not necessarily the case, but definitely makes me feel good. And I still have to go out there and execute every shot to the best of my ability, and if I don't do it‑‑ I wouldn't play well.
I think that's what it's more about is executing the shots, and I think at that point in time with the Dubai Desert Classic champions previous, they were playing well leading up and hopefully I'm doing the same thing. Hopefully that shows up through this week, but you never know.
Q. With rain expected tomorrow and later in the week, how does that affect how you approach your prep work going into the tournament, and then once the tournament starts, if the rain comes through like they are saying it is?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: That affects moisture level and that's going to affect the way the ball reacts on the face. You know, there's a percentage to that, and we have to account for that.
If you don't, you're going to hit it to 30, 40 feet, instead of ten feet.
Q. And then as far as the prep work going into this, into Thursday, if it rains tomorrow, how does that affect your plans?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: We just adjust. We adjust all our numbers based on the moisture level and the firmness value of the greens and all that.
It's not difficult for us to measure our own firmness. We know relative to other golf courses how it lands in the green and how much it rolls for that, and we hit the same iron into a green when we're practicing and see how much it rolls; and there's a relative percentage to that, we know how to do it from there.
Q. I just wanted to follow up on the flagsticks. Do you think it's going to be more of an advantage leaving the flagsticks in on the greens this week because the greens are so sloped and so quick, and do you think other players will take advantage of it more often?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Certain situations, yeah. I think there's also a visual benefit to it. You know, you think about if anyone ever put a coffee mug on a green and they are putting to it, right. It seems that you can almost hit that coffee mug all day long, if it's above ground, right. As soon as you put something into the ground, it's like, I've got to hit it softer and let it fall in. So there's also the psychological and visual aspect that's a benefit, as well as the geometry, too.
Q. Have you seen the 1960 highlights where Palmer left the stick in on 16 and his long birdie putt climbed out? He was one behind Venturi at the time. Then of course he birdied 17 and 18 to win, but have you seen the highlight?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: The flagstick may have had a different firmness value back then, I don't know (laughter).
Shoot, if you do hit it too hard, it's absolutely going to bounce out. But my goal is to hit it two fee past and with the flagsticks right now I don't think that will bounce out in any situation.
Q. I just wondered if you had actually seen that?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: No, I haven't. I'll go check that out, thank you.
Q. You talked about casual golfers using one‑length irons. Curious as to how close do you think we are to seeing fellow tour pros, whether on Web.com or PGA TOUR following in your footsteps becoming almost DeChambeau disciples, so to speak.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: One‑length disciples, not DeChambeau. I would say it's going to take a generational shift. So the kids that are playing with them now are not going to need to necessarily go to variable length. It will be like, well, they perform just as good as, the one‑lengths perform just as good as variable‑length, so why would I need to go to a different lengths club, this is going to make me feel a little weird. I think that's what it's going to take is a whole generation of kids starting to use it, utilize it and become great players with it.
Q. So the guys on the Tour now can't really unlearn what they have learned?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: It's too much of a leap in their brains to go a different way, and they have practiced this way for so long in that way; that there's no real need to go back to it, or go back to a different way because they had such great success out here.
I think that, you know, people would say, well, that shows that it isn't that much of a benefit and I would actually counter them that even though they are able to account for their different lengths and stuff, growing up and starting out, it's a humongous leap from variable‑length to one‑length.
One‑lengths, you give kids one‑lengths, and it's just a tremendous difference in the ability to strike a 4‑iron or a 5‑iron and a pitching wedge on the spot. You've got a guy that's starting out with variable‑length clubs that are 8‑iron or whatever, and they go to 4, and they go, it takes them a long time to learn how to hit a 4‑iron.
So there's this, I guess you could say, quantum leap from being able to learn how to hit these irons really quickly. I think that's where it's going to make a big difference for a lot of people is on the beginning level, and it will just progress into the game over time.
Will it dominate the market? I don't know. And if it doesn't, I'm okay with that. I really just want people to have that option so that they can perform to the best of their ability.
Q. How does the extension of the fifth hole change for you in terms of your approach to it, shot shape, just your whole attack plan?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: So I'll tell you the shot shape is going to be the same for me. I try and hit the same shot pretty much on any hole except some holes where it's a massive dog leg right. That's the only time I'll change it.
But there are times you'll have a 6‑iron, 5‑iron in. A lot of guys were hitting hybrids yesterday and I'm pretty impressed with that; it was a little into the wind.
It's difficult. It's going to be a very difficult hole. I like that they shallowed out the green a little bit, flattened it a little bit and created a couple more accessible pins. I think it's a great move, moving it away from the fourth green, the tee box away from the fourth green, that's going to speed up play. Overall I think it's a great design change.
THE MODERATOR: Bryson, wishing you all the best this week.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Thank you.
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