WORLD OF GOLF: Box-office Bryson is ready to fill the Tiger void

DEREK LAWRENSON: Box-office Bryson DeChambeau is echoing the game’s greats after winning his eighth PGA Tour title… the compelling American has shown he’s more than capable of filling the Tiger Woods void

  • Is there a more compelling sportsman right now than Bryson DeChambeau?
  • Every time he steps on to a tee, he prompts a debate in every golfing household
  • His win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational has elevated his status even further
  • There’s nothing dull about the 27-year-old and he can certainly fill that Tiger void

What a weekend that was at Arnie’s place. Thirty-six gripping holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill that led to some major talking points as the season ramps up another notch this week with the game’s fifth most important tournament — the Players Championship at Sawgrass. Let’s discuss… 

Bryson’s ready to fill the Tiger void

Is there a more compelling sportsman right now than the winner on Sunday, Bryson DeChambeau? Every time he steps on to a tee with his unique approach to line and length, he prompts a conversation in every golfing household.

Every time he starts a winner’s interview by thanking his entire list of sponsors, cushions are thrown at televisions worldwide. 

There’s nothing dull about the 27-year-old Californian and that’s why no one needs to worry about golf lacking a figurehead while Tiger Woods’ career hangs in the balance in a Los Angeles hospital.

Is there a more compelling sportsman right now than Sunday’s winner, Bryson DeChambeau?

There’s nothing dull about the 27-year-old – he can certainly be golf’s figurehead to fill the void left by Tiger Woods (pictured), who is currently recovering in a Los Angeles hospital

DeChambeau might lack Palmer’s cool or charisma off the course but he’s the living personification of the great man inside the ropes. He’s got so many more shots than just a big drive.

Lee Westwood rightly pointed out the low iron shots he drilled under the wind on Sunday. 

His short game is great as well, and his heart is big when the pressure moments come. ‘Bryson versus Augusta National — the sequel’ promises to be unmissable next month.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK 

‘You’ve just got to shrug it off and get on with it. The game was never meant to be fair. That’s the mental challenge.’

Lee Westwood’s reaction after his perfect drive down the 18th fairway at Bay Hill finished in the middle of a divot. On social media, there was much gnashing of teeth at the unfairness that had befallen the Englishman, and discussion as to whether it was time the rule was changed to allow a player relief from such misfortune.

Westwood’s response, meanwhile, rather summed up the man.

Westy’s a national sporting marvel

Golf might be a sport where you can go on far longer than many other pursuits, but it’s truly inspiring to see the continuing levels of excellence managed by the seemingly ageless Lee Westwood.

He’ll be 48 next month, for heaven’s sake, and is clearly not content to rest on his victory in the Race to Dubai last December. 

It was only on the final putt on the final hole that he was finally beaten following Sunday’s classic duel with DeChambeau.

Sure, the psychologist and the various coaches he employs deserve their share of praise — but the biggest factor of all might be fiancee Helen Storey, so often his caddie these days. 

You can see the pair of them are having the time of their lives, and it’s showing in Westwood’s play in the pressure moments.

The nervy shots he pulled off and the gutsy putts he holed on the 15th, 17th and 18th are the ones that tell a player he’s still got it, whatever his birth certificate says.

 

A different direction for Rory?

Another week where all the promise of a dazzling opening round was frittered away sounded like one too many for Rory McIlroy this time. Are changes afoot in the professional life of the Northern Irishman?

‘There were some good parts this week again but some stuff I don’t know how to describe,’ he said, following his disappointing final round 76. 

‘I’m just a little dejected, or maybe looking to go in a different direction. I don’t know. I need something. I need a spark and I just don’t seem to have it.’ 

There’s only been one top-three placing for Rory McIlroy (pictured) in six events this season

McIlroy has played in six events this season and, barring one missed cut, has finished in the top 16 each week. 

But there’s only been one top-three placing, which explains his obvious frustration. Nearly golf is not nearly what he’s after, not at this stage of his career and with the Masters looming ever closer. 

Why the panic over driving distance?

If you want to know why Rory and so many other top pros consider the R&A’s project to limit the distance a golf ball travels ‘a waste of time and money,’ the answer lay behind the sixth tee at Bay Hill over the weekend.

There was only one place to be, and that was to see whether Bryson drove the green at this par-five over the water. You can see the pro’s point of view: why would you want to take away such a drawing card for the fans who actually pay to watch the game?

Of course, the other side of the argument is: who wants to see Bryson drive the par-four 18th at The Open at St Andrews next year with a six iron? There is no easy solution. 

The only place to be at the weekend was to watch Bryson drive from the sixth tee at Bay Hill




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