Can 2020's biggest hitter bring Augusta to its knees or is the famous Georgia course still more then capable of defending itself?
Will Bryson Break Augusta?
It’s an interesting question given all that the American has done this year to take his game, and golf itself, to another dimension.
His transformation of both body and swing speed have rivalled even the disruption from Covid-19 for headline space in this extraordinary year for golf, an extraordinary year that continues with the first ever November Masters – which Bryson is currently bookies’ favourite to win.
Related: Best Black Friday Golf Deals
Bryson’s new-found distance has sparked a paradigm shift in his status within the game.
He has gone from slightly wacky scientist to serious contender, despite much scorn from some for doing things the Bryson way.
He has found a way to not only hit the ball so much further, but also keep it in play.
He has been reducing many holes to mere shadows of their former selves.
Coming in to 2020’s hugely disrupted season, DeChambeau was ranked 14th in the world.
Now, he’s 6th, but perhaps of greater interest are his Major results.
Before 2020 he had a best Major finish of T15th in the 2016 US Open, with nearly as many missed cuts as made.
Now a Major player
In this year’s two Majors, he has finished T4th at the PGA before winning September’s US Open.
He overpowered the notoriously difficult Winged Foot course with an imperious display.
He finished six clear and was the only man against whom the course’s fearsome par of 70 was unable to defend itself.
So, what of Augusta National?
It boasts very different defences to Winged Foot. There is none of the cloying, thick rough that lined Winged Foot’s fairways, and Tiger has proved in the past that you can spray it around a bit and still get the job done.
The problem with this is that, while you may not lose your ball, being out of position is more of a problem than at many courses.
The ultra-fast, sloping greens are Augusta’s ingenious last line of defence. It is often imperative that you find the right part of the green with your approach shot.
To do that, you must first put your drive in the right place.
If you’re out of position, it may well be impossible to hit the right part of the green, or indeed any part of it.
Then you’re relying on the brilliance of your putting and short game, which Tiger, of course, possessed in abundance – 2005’s 16th hole chip-in being the prime example.
So, will Bryson break Augusta? I don’t think so.
First, although he currently tops the driving distance stats at 344 yards, he ranks 201st for driving accuracy, meaning that if he goes at every drive flat-out he could be out of position too often to find the right parts of the greens. That would place a huge emphasis on his putting.
Putting holds the key, not power…
Bryson is no slouch on the greens – he finished 10th in ‘strokes gained putting’ last year.
But the Augusta stats for the last three years show that he has struggled more than many on the course’s idiosyncratic putting surfaces.
And, perhaps crucially, Augusta National does not permit the very detailed green-reading books that many players – Bryson, of course, included – use elsewhere.
So, he won’t be getting the full range of assistance he typically turns to on the greens.
Bryson may have dented Winged Foot’s pride a couple of months ago, but I don’t think he will do the same to Augusta National, with the record score to par this century coming from a player at the opposite end of golf’s power spectrum to DeChambeau – Jordan Spieth.
Spieth was a wizard on the greens en route to his 18-under tally in 2015, rolling in a record 28 birdies for the week.
And if I’m wrong and Bryson does break Augusta, you can rest assured that certain Bryson-proofing measures will be in place in time for next year’s tournament!
Titleist Pro V1 Balls
£41.95 £36.95 at Scottsdale Golf
Without doubt one of the best balls out there, the Pro V1 is below £37 at the moment – a real bargain. It’s also in the sale in the yellow colour, too.
Under Armour Elevated Tour Baseball Cap
£30 £18.90 at Scottsdale Golf
Coming in size M/L, this Under Armour baseball cap is available in both grey and navy with over £11 off its usual price of £30.
Callaway Chrome Soft Golf Balls
$47.99 $39.99 with Worldwide Golf Shops
Save eight dollars today on Callaway’s Chrome Soft golf balls. A model that proves popular out on Tour, the ball is constructed with an improved urethane cover which delivers increased ball speed on full shots while providing even softer feel and more control around the greens.