Bryson DeChambeau in contention at Valspar using new putting style

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bryson DeChambeau in contention at Valspar using new putting style

PGA Tour

Bryson DeChambeau in contention at Valspar using new putting style

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – After ditching the side-saddle putting method last month at the Genesis Open, Bryson DeChambeau briefly went back to a traditional style. Now, he has something new – for him, at least.

DeChambeau is using the “Matt Kuchar style” this week at the Valspar Championship and finds himself in contention at 5 under. The 23-year-old DeChambeau wrapped up his first round Friday morning, carding an opening 4-under 67, and then turned right around to post a second-round 71 at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course.

“It’s getting really comfortable,” DeChambeau said of the style, which incorporates a long putter (44 inches in DeChambeau’s case) rested against the right-handed DeChambeau’s left forearm, a legal method most notably used by Kuchar.

(And for those thinking DeChambeau’s method is against the rules, it’s not; his putter grip doesn’t go above his elbow joint and he even checked with Tour officials before putting it into play.)

“I’m rolling it down my line and seeing a lot of great lines this week and making some putts finally.”

DeChambeau is seeing the results in his statistics, too. He is gaining 2.609 strokes on the green through 36 holes compared to his season average of -0.962 per 18 holes (that number puts him 211th out of 213 qualified players on the PGA Tour).

Bryson DeChambeau uses the “Matt Kuchar style” during Round 2 of the 2017 Valspar Championship. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

On Friday, DeChambeau made birdie putts of 20, 14 and 10 feet on the back nine, his first nine, and then made a crucial 16-footer to save par at the par-5 first and a 15-footer for birdie at the par-4 second. Bogeys on three of his last six holes hurt, but DeChambeau sees the positive: he’ll be cashing a paycheck on Tour for the first time in six events.

Entering Valspar, DeChambeau hadn’t made a cut since the Sony Open, where he was T-49. He missed four of his next five cuts, and withdrew from the other event, at Genesis, where severe blisters on his right hand forced him to hang it up after 28 holes.

He also was involved in a situation with the U.S. Golf Association, which deemed one of the putters he used for his side-saddle method non-conforming. DeChambeau then got caught in the heat of the moment after his missed cut at Honda and placed blame on the USGA, saying the organization didn’t want him using the method, among other things.

DeChambeau, who publicly apologized for his remarks, deeply regrets his comments and as much as he thinks side-saddle is a beneficial method, he’s moving forward. And judging by his play this week, he’s just fine with it.

“There’s been a lot of things that have been happening lately and I’m finally getting back to playing some good golf,” DeChambeau said. “… I found a way (to putt) that’s worked pretty well and making some putts.”

DeChambeau doesn’t just have a new putting style; he has a new putter, as well. The new flatstick was constructed for DeChambeau by a company called Sik Golf, which also put DeChambeau on a launch monitor for putting called Quintic.

“They said, ‘We can make you a good putter,’ ” DeChambeau said. “… I was a machine on that system.”

Time will tell if DeChambeau’s overhaul of his putting pays off, but for now he’s excited to play the weekend. He has some good memories at Innisbrook, too, as he won the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship on the Copperhead Course.

“Looking forward to making some more,” DeChambeau said.

This week is already memorable, though. DeChambeau’s dad, Jon, had a kidney transplant on Wednesday. Jon DeChambeau, whose kidneys failed him in 2014 because of diabetes, had been on dialysis for nearly three years. The surgery was successful and Bryson was happy to share that his dad went to the bathroom Friday – a big stepping stone for transplant patients.

That explains why Bryson wasn’t fretting over his three late bogeys.

“Seeing him get a kidney finally and now I don’t have to worry about that, it’s been a dream come true,” Bryson said.

Jon DeChambeau is expected to get out of the hospital this weekend. Bryson hopes to get him the perfect welcome-home present: a PGA Tour trophy.

Hey, if DeChambeau keeps making putts, it’s possible.

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