AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was a back nine for the ages. Bryson DeChambeau, a man who incredibly has never had an ace, nearly holed an 8-iron on the par-3 16th, chipped in for birdie on the 17th and hit the center of the flagstick on the 18th with his approach.
In all, DeChambeau poured in six birdies in his last seven holes for an opening 6-under 66 at the Masters and holds a share of the lead with three-time major champion Brooks Koepka.
“What a magical back nine,” said DeChambeau, who tied for 21st at the Masters as an amateur. “Wind started to pick up, right around Amen Corner, and it was tough. It was not easy one bit. But we just stuck to what we knew we should have done, and we did, and was able to execute a beautiful 9‑iron on 12 that kind of jump-started my back nine, hitting it to 5 feet. Making that putt got me rolling.”
DeChambeau couldn’t see how close he came to making an eagle on the 18th from 196 yards and watched it of the first time after the round with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.
“Oh my gosh, I guess I should have pulled the flagstick,” he joked. “A little too fast. My terminal velocity was too high.”
A noted grinder, DeChambeau said that last Wednesday he spent 14 hours at Dallas National trying to crack the code on his wedges.
“We knew it was something in regards to the spin loft curve and us being on the wrong side of the spin loft curve,” said DeChambeau, “but we didn’t understand how to get it back on the correct side.
“And so after careful observation and some really deep, deep thinking about what’s happening and some cool depictions of how the club was moving through the ball, we started to realize it was something we could do with the shafts. And so we went the other way with my previous logic, which I don’t really want to give too much about it out, but we went the other way with the way I was previously thinking, and it actually started to work.”
Boy did it ever.