Bryson DeChambeau has exited his latest failed title defence declaring: “I hate golf.” No doubt, anyone who has ever picked up a club knows exactly how the American feels, but it is still not what an admirer wants to hear less than two weeks before The Open Championship.
It was a wretched week for the 27-year-old in Detroit, a veritable car crash in Motor City. Before the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Tim Tucker, his long-time caddie, told him “I’m quitting”, and then his nemesis Brooks Koepka joined in with the ridicule on social media – calling it “Caddie Appreciation Day”.
For a man trying to create a revolution in a sport, this must have felt more like a devolution, as all that power he possesses dissipated into the Michigan air.
The low point was on the par-three fifth during his second round. As his ball headed for a bunker he uttered “I hate golf”. In defence of the ancient game, it might be pointed out that it has done quite a lot for the world No 6 in his five years as a pro.
He has accumulated more than $25m – and that is just in on-course earnings – and earned global fame with his nine wins, including the 2020 US Open. But at the moment, golf is hard and as he tries to replace Tucker – who insiders believe was uniquely suited to being on the bag of the complex personality they call The Mad Scientist – there appears to be no easy route towards the upturn.
It is hardly panic stations, but DeChambeau has recorded only one top 10 in his last nine starts and he sets himself higher standards.
DeChambeau refused to talk to the media in Detroit, but knows that on Tuesday, his emotions will be laid bare when he plays in The Match II, one of those awful made-for-TV clashes. Phil Mickelson partners Tom Brady and DeChambeau is with Aaron Rodgers, another quarterback behemoth.
The participants will be mic’d up, Mickelson will be merciless in ribbing and it is probably the last thing DeChambeau needs at the moment (apart from Koepka being in the opposite corner, that is).
Then it will be across the Atlantic to Royal St George’s, the Open layout that many consider to be the most unpredictable of any. It is a test that will not clearly appeal to the meticulous Californian.
In DeChambeau’s absence, England’s Tom Lewis was enjoying the 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour event for the first time. He was on 10-under alongside the Chilean Joaquim Niemann.
On the European Tour, Australian Lucas Herbert kept his lead in the Irish Open. Herbert, 25, shot a 70 to move to 15-under and stand one clear of American Johannes Veerman, who fired a 67. Rory McIlroy is out of contention at Mount Juliet after a 73 took him back to four-under and into a tie for 48th.