Is Bryson DeChambeau's flagstick putting method about to go mainstream?

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Is Bryson DeChambeau's flagstick putting method about to go mainstream?

PGA Tour

Is Bryson DeChambeau's flagstick putting method about to go mainstream?

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KAPALUA, Hawaii – Justin Thomas said he couldn’t really take himself seriously if he ever holed a winning putt with the flagstick in. Doesn’t like how it looks.

It’s obvious Bryson DeChambeau has never cared about optics, which is why he said he was going to putt with the flagstick in all the time once the modern rules of golf went into effect this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Some people laughed but DeChambeau was serious, and he backed it up Thursday while leaving the flagstick in the majority of the time in Round 1.

He also topped the field at 3.868 strokes gained putting Thursday and suddenly this whole flagstick thing doesn’t look so ridiculous anymore. It looked like it might have helped on at least one or two birdie putts as DeChambeau shot 4-under 69 to move to T-6.

He wasn’t the only player in the field to do it. Just the most frequent and outspoken.

“I feel like I maximized my potential on that,” DeChambeau said. “Especially on 16 today, where it’s kind of blowing downwind, five percent slope, straight downhill, you want that pin in to help. So that’s what I kind of did and utilized it to my advantage. So I felt like for the most part I needed the pin to be in and it went in and it was a very nice help.”

He was playing with Dustin Johnson, who probably spent less time studying the modern rules than DeChambeau spent picking his shirt this morning. Johnson told him before the round he was cool with the whole flagstick thing and to have DeChambeau’s caddie Tim Tucker just handle the flag all day to avoid confusion.

“It’s definitely weird. Well, not weird, it’s just different watching someone putt with the flag in,” Johnson said. “It actually worked out where it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t slow us down or anything.”

DeChambeau left it in about half of the time, including for birdie makes on 11, 14 and 16 on the back nine. The crowds are pretty small at Kapalua’s Plantation Course and there were a few comments in the gallery, but it didn’t really seem to impact anything.

DeChambeau said he only took about 20 putts with the flagstick in to prepare for this tournament.

“It’s not difficult. People make it too complicated,” DeChambeau said. “I’m still learning in competition when it’s the right thing to do. I’m gonna be courteous to the player I’m playing with as well. I’m not gonna be one of those guys … that’s not me. I’m trying to be courteous to all the players out here and respectful. That’s my opinion and it’s been a help so far.”

There’s no way to know how much it helped DeChambeau or if it helped at all Thursday. But with studies suggesting it’s beneficial in every single situation and DeChambeau coming out of the gates with the best putting day in Maui, it’s easy to see other players on Tour following suit in the near future.

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