PALM HARBOR, Fla. – There haven’t been many great days for Bryson DeChambeau lately.
He hasn’t made a cut in his last five PGA Tour starts. He had to withdraw from the Genesis Open after his right hand split open in two places because of severe blisters. Oh, and then there was the situation involving his side-saddle putting method, non-conforming putter and the U.S. Golf Association. (He has since switched back to conventional putting.)
Wednesday, however, was a great day for the 23-year-old DeChambeau – and that might be an understatement.
His dad, Jon, finally received a kidney. The surgery took place in San Francisco Wednesday morning, the live donor being a high-school friend of Jon’s named Ron.
“Pretty cool day,” said DeChambeau, who was excited to call his dad after finishing up his practice session Wednesday at Innisbrook, where he will compete in the Valspar Championship starting Thursday.
“Despite the fact that all this stuff is going on, it’s more important that my dad is getting a kidney today.”
Jon DeChambeau, 57, had needed a kidney since both of his failed in 2014 as a result of a lengthy battle with diabetes. He started dialysis shortly after, but after losing part of his right foot because of his diabetes, DeChambeau put on 35 pounds of toxin and fluid weight, forcing doctors to switch him to hemodialysis.
He initially had an emergency port installed in his chest for the dialysis machine, which essentially serves as a mechanical kidney, in order to attend last year’s Masters, where Bryson competed as an amateur. Soon after, Jon had a fistula (a connection between an artery and a vein) built in his arm to hook up to his dialysis machine.
But dialysis is not a permanent solution. Eventually someone suffering from kidney failure needs a transplant. With Jon’s blood type being O-positive, the universal blood type, the waiting list for a kidney was long. It could have taken years for Jon to get a kidney unless he received one from a live donor.
“Donating a kidney is something that every person can do, but not every person will,” a hopeful Jon said last April.
Jon had several interested donors, but as time passed, a transplant still hadn’t occurred. His health kept declining.
“My mom was a saint through it all, helping him get to certain places and do certain things,” Bryson said. “There were times he couldn’t drive because his eyes got bad; his system wasn’t flushing out the bad stuff. It was just staying in his system and creating high blood pressure and other stuff. It was just bad.”
Now, though, things are good. Jon still figures to have a lengthy recovery (typically a couple of months until he’s resuming normal activities), but the big part is out of the way: he has his kidney. (And he got it during National Kidney Month, too.)
Bryson can’t wait for the day his dad can return to watching him play golf. Last year’s Masters was the only tournament Jon has been to since Bryson’s U.S. Amateur victory in August 2015.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Bryson said, “and I’m just happy that he’s going to be healthy and going to be able to come out and watch me play, because he hasn’t been able to these past two to three years.”
When his dad does return to his gallery, Bryson wants to be playing well. He’s admittedly struggled on the course as of late, but he feels like the worst of his struggles is behind him. His hand is healing and his swing is in good shape.
“(My game) is the best it’s been since college, I can tell you that, since I won the NCAAs and U.S. Amateur,” Bryson said. “I think it’s almost better than that now.”
Bryson is also benefiting from the use of Quintec, a putting analysis software.
“It’s a launch monitor for putting and it uses visual optics instead of radar frequency, and it’s more precise, I think,” Bryson said. “It’s been fantastic learning how the ball truly rolls and comes out of different surfaces, how to nullify some dimple hits and things like that. The roll is becoming more and more consistent, which is fantastic. … I’ve seen some consistencies in the ball and how it’s rolling that I’ve never seen before.”
Most importantly, though, a huge weight has been lifted off Bryson – and his entire family for that matter. Jon’s health has been on Bryson’s mind frequently during tournaments. He has tried to block it out and focus on his golf, but it’s only natural for a son to care about his dad.
When talking about his dad receiving the gift of life Wednesday, Bryson was beaming. You could hear it in his voice, his heart is full. It will be even fuller, though, when he sees his dad back on the course rooting him on from just outside the ropes.