Augusta National bites back at long-driving DeChambeau

Augusta (United States) (AFP) –


Bryson DeChambeau never came close to overwhelming Augusta National in Thursday's opening round of the Masters, the long-driving US Open champion settling for a two-under par 70 start.

DeChambeau's bulked up physique and ball-blasting form crushed Winged Foot in September to deliver the American's first major title, but he never really threatened Augusta National.

"Not great. Not my best," DeChambeau said. "I got a little, I guess you could say tight. I wasn't comfortable with my golf swing. Normally when I'm really comfortable I can keep going faster and faster and today I felt like I got a little tighter."

Sixth-ranked DeChambeau took a double-bogey at the par-5 13th in his first visit to tricky Amen Corner.

"This golf course, as much as I'm trying to attack it, it can bite back," DeChambeau said.

"It's still Augusta National, and it's the Masters. It's an amazing test of golf no matter what way you play it."

DeChambeau closed with back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth holes to leave him only five adrift of leader Paul Casey, and while there were some great drives in his round, his chipping and putting wasn't enough to take full advantage.

"I'm very happy with the patience I delivered to the course," he said. "I just have to figure out what's going on, why am I missing it a little too far left."

DeChambeau missed a five-foot birdie putt at the 10th, sent his tee shot at 11 into the left trees but rescued par before his double-bogey disaster.

"I just didn't draw it around the corner enough and I got greedy," said DeChambeau. "I tried to take on some risk today. It didn't work out as well as I thought it would have.

"But at the end of the day I'm proud of myself the way I handled myself and finished off. Birdieing eight and nine was a testament to my focus level and wanting to contend here."

At 13, DeChambeau drove into the trees, one blocking his path to the green. He blasted off the pine straw into bushed beyond the green, then hit a provisional ball into Rae's Creek.

Finding his first shot, he then needed two chips to reach the green and two putts to find the hole.

"I should have been smarter and hit it out, took my medicine and hit it on the green," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow I'll hit it in the fairway and have a different opportunity for birdie if not eagle."

DeChambeau didn't bring his experimental maximum-length 48-inch driver out as he had hinted he might.

"I don't feel like I'm 100% ready with that yet," he said. "I tried to get it ready for this week, but there was a lot of opportunities that I felt like I could still fly it over bunkers with the 45-inch driver.

"A lot of things changed out there and caught me off guard a little bit. But at the end of the day I'm happy with the way I played."