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Bryson DeChambeau: Golf's 'mad scientist' perfects winning formula

He's often described as golf's "mad scientist," the physics major with the lab-built swing, the single-lengt...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 11:38 AM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 11:38 AM

He's often described as golf's "mad scientist," the physics major with the lab-built swing, the single-length clubs and the unrelenting, analytic work ethic.

Yet Bryson DeChambeau's unorthodoxy is not just some far out formula. It works. And how.

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The 24-year-old has collected four PGA Tour wins in just over 13 months, including back-to-back titles in his last two tournaments.

The latest, a two-shot win over Justin Rose in the second FedEx Cup playoff event Boston, cemented his lead in the season-long FedExCup standings.

DeChambeau's singular approach marks him out in a sport known for its conservatism and sometimes "vanilla" stars.

But he insists his unashamed pursuit of perfection, in a sport noted for its vagaries, is not as "crazy" as it seems.

"Crazy is a relative term, you know," he told reporters after his winning in Paramus, New Jersey last month.

"You can say what I do is crazy, but at the end of the day, I'm the one with the trophy this week."

He added in Boston: "I''ve always been a guy that's been weird and unique relative to everybody else, what they think about me. I've always gone about my business trying to do the absolute best I can. Let today's garbage be better than yesterday's. And so I don't view people's criticism as a negative thing. I actually view it as a positive thing."

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'The Golfing Machine'

DeChambeau's victory in the Northern Trust Open last week made him only the fourth player to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship, the US Amateur title and three PGA Tour events before their 25th birthday.

The others? Only three of the biggest names to have played the game -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus.

Despite DeChambeau's low-key profile, he has collected more titles in the same time frame than Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler combined. And so far in his fledgling career DeChambeau has won more than $8.4 million in prize money on the PGA Tour.

"I don't play golf for money," adds DeChambeau, who talks often of biomechanics, spatial awareness, standard deviation, tolerance and ranges of error despite being known as "L'Artiste" by some social media users.

"I play golf to execute that shot, the beautiful shot that everybody adores. That's why I think we all play golf."

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DeChambeau's swing is based on some of the theories espoused in the left-field 1969 golf manual called "The Golf Machine" by Homer Kelly.

The geometric-heavy theory -- taking the club back on a single plane, with no wrist break -- is to improve consistency and reduce the variation in his shots. Critics say it lacks the power of a more traditional swing.

In tandem with the unique method, he also employs clubs that are all the same length -- 37.5 inches -- from three iron through wedges, compared with most sets which get shorter as the loft of the club increases. Instead of numbers, he stamps the clubs with names, such as "Azalea" and "Gamma."

"When I was starting to do my one-length iron stuff, there were a couple of colleges that just stopped talking to me. Even my dad didn't think it was a great idea," DeChambeau said in Boston.

"I love my dad to death, but we butted heads. But obviously it works now."

Until recently he also used a drawing compass to help gauge precise hole locations before the game's governing body in the US, the United States Golf Association, banned it for being an "artificial" or "unusual" device. And he has experimented with a sideways putting technique until the putter was deemed non-conforming.

'Hiccups'

DeChambeau, who grew up in Clovis, California, confesses he struggled with reading and writing -- although not math -- as a youngster and "worked my butt off to be an A student."

"I feel like I've always had to work twice as hard to be just as good as others," he says.

Through dedication, he says he can sign his name backwards with his left hand.

"It's not talent, it's just practice," he told Golf Digest in 2016.

"I can be good at anything if I love it and dedicate myself. And I love history. I love science. I love music. I love golf. I love learning. I love life. I love trying to be the best at anything and everything."

When the equation doesn't work out, however, the volatile and unforgiving DeChambeau can sometimes struggle to contain his frustration.

After his first round at the British Open at Carnoustie in July, DeChambeau was filmed having what appeared to be a golfing meltdown on the practice ground. The American threw clubs, despaired with his head in his hands and sunk to his haunches as demons seemingly infested his swing.

The following week, he led the European Tour's Porsche Open by one shot with four holes left before suffering another meltdown. DeChambeau's curt handshake with eventual winner Richard McEvoy drew heavy criticism, forcing him to apologize.

The downs, he says, are more important than the ups.

"Even though I have hiccups every once in a while, those are great experiences I can learn from," added DeChambeau in New Jersey.

"That struggle is what led me to this point. Those moments when you're at your -- relatively speaking, lowest, are the times when you can learn the most."

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'Man on a mission'

But DeChambeau's recent results -- he also won Nicklaus's Memorial tournament in June -- and competitive instincts have made him a lock as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup in Paris in September.

"We all know he's extremely intelligent, but his heart, he gives it everything he has and is always trying to get better," Woods, the man one place behind him in the Ryder Cup rankings, told reporters in New Jersey.

"We want fiery guys on the team. We are going overseas and we are going into a pretty hostile environment, so we want guys who are fiery. He's a tough kid. He's been through a lot in his life, and he's worked hard to get to where he's at."

Should he get the nod from US captain Jim Furyk Tuesday, DeChambeau would make his Ryder Cup debut against Europe at Le Golf National, but it wouldn't be the first time he has attended the tournament.

Two years ago at Hazeltine he attended as a fan, just to soak up the atmosphere.

Now, though, DeChambeau is a "man on a mission" -- to make the US side and win the FedExCup.

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news, features and videos

"Pedal to the metal," he says.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 517138

Reported Deaths: 10306
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35086559
DeSoto33512432
Hinds32826644
Jackson24938392
Rankin22621405
Lee16564245
Madison14986283
Jones14195248
Forrest13865260
Lauderdale12343323
Lowndes11401193
Lamar10715140
Pearl River9762244
Lafayette8898143
Hancock7854132
Washington7562169
Oktibbeha7246138
Monroe7106179
Pontotoc7071110
Warren6915179
Panola6815136
Neshoba6762210
Marshall6751142
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Union647099
Alcorn5969108
Pike5953157
Lincoln5550136
George511380
Prentiss511086
Tippah498483
Itawamba4916107
Scott479599
Tate4790118
Adams4789125
Leflore4765144
Copiah458995
Simpson4587117
Yazoo458692
Wayne444372
Covington435895
Sunflower4338106
Marion4313112
Coahoma4263111
Leake414491
Newton396482
Tishomingo390294
Grenada3799109
Stone366466
Attala342290
Jasper341667
Chickasaw320867
Winston319092
Clay314378
Clarke302095
Calhoun289550
Holmes273789
Smith271452
Yalobusha246547
Tallahatchie233153
Greene225549
Walthall222266
Lawrence221142
Perry214656
Amite210657
Webster207248
Noxubee188943
Montgomery182857
Carroll176341
Jefferson Davis175043
Tunica164139
Benton153539
Kemper145641
Choctaw138027
Claiborne134939
Humphreys132639
Franklin127130
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106539
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 849409

Reported Deaths: 16199
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1165042004
Mobile744951384
Madison53605739
Shelby38474373
Baldwin38236590
Tuscaloosa36225644
Montgomery34599784
Lee25712264
Calhoun22652520
Morgan22569411
Etowah20084521
Marshall18878318
Houston17806426
St. Clair16987359
Limestone16220222
Cullman16183306
Elmore15967295
Lauderdale15126308
Talladega14275302
DeKalb13099271
Walker12202380
Blount10803193
Autauga10566157
Jackson10237196
Coffee9447192
Colbert9396210
Dale9052192
Tallapoosa7291202
Russell711965
Chilton7101171
Covington6985197
Escambia6972146
Franklin6379108
Chambers5815142
Marion5451132
Dallas5307210
Pike5135109
Clarke485986
Lawrence4857130
Winston4804111
Geneva4658137
Bibb436795
Barbour370880
Butler3446101
Marengo342593
Monroe338666
Randolph338567
Pickens335590
Fayette332785
Henry321566
Cherokee321264
Hale320289
Crenshaw262278
Washington256952
Cleburne255460
Lamar253755
Clay253169
Macon246667
Conecuh193962
Coosa186248
Lowndes178468
Wilcox178338
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Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130845
Choctaw94928
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