Bullish Bryson DeChambeau eyeing all out attack of Bay Hill’s par-5 sixth hole

The American likes to horrify traditionalists with his outrageous long-hitting, but in round one conditions didn’t suit his latest bold strategy.

It's been the theme of golf ever since the sport's return from lockdown last summer.

When Bryson DeChambeau re-emerged looking less like a scientist that the Incredible Hulk he wasted little time proving that he was now capable of hitting his tee shots astonishing distances.

That, however, was only the start of it.

DeChambeau also made it clear that he was absolutely intent on ripping up the golfing play book.

Not for him the standard policy of following the course map, of seeking fairways and greens.

Instead he utilised Google Earth to plot his own route from the tee to the putting surface.

At the Bay Hill Club, for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, the topic has re-emerged as DeChambeau has tempted some, titillated others and tested the patience of another demographic with his gameplan for one particular hole.

Will DeChambeau's strategy change if he remains in contention?
Will DeChambeau's strategy change if he remains in contention?

In the first round he carded a 5-under-par 67 that left him alone in third, just one shot behind the early pace-setters Rory McIlroy and Corey Conners.

He's rated a 9/2 shot for the win with Paddy Power and there's much to be said for his chances (see below).

But first, let's look at his bludgeoning blueprint for that one hole which, if he pulls it off, might just break Golf Twitter.

The par-5 sixth hole

In theory this hole is 528 yards, but that's if you take the normal route, around the lake.

Draw a straight line, from tee to green, and it's a mere 340-yards.

It's a vast chasm for 99.999999% of golfers, but a shot at glory that has enticed a few.

In 1998 John Daly thrashed away at the option, although less like a professional tour golfer than a 17th century haymaker.

His initial drive found water and then, after taking a drop, he needed five attempts with a 3-wood to find dry land.

He eventually signed for a 13-over-par 18.

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Back in January DeChambeau said to Golf.com about the hole and the shot: "I will definitely do it. (It's) one of those I've been eyeing. I think I can do some pretty cool things on it."

In Wednesday's Pro-Am, he had a crack and failed to land his ball.

"It's too into the wind," he bemoaned before adding: "If it's not into the wind, I can get there."

First chance

DeChambeau was not only 4-under-par and flying when he encountered the sixth hole in his first lap, he had also just made two consecutive birdies.

Hope was therefore high when he walked to the tee box, not least among the fans.

Whereupon DeChambeau played to that gallery.

"I pulled out an iron as a joke off the tee box," he said.

"(But the wind) was just too much off of the right and more into the wind than anything. With the driver that I'm using right now it's a heavier head and I can't get the speeds that I'm trying to obtain."

He does have another driver with him this week so it might make the bag later in the week and he added hope for those willing him on: "If it's more downwind, I'll be able to do it tomorrow, hopefully, or some time during the weekend."

State of play

It was a fine opening lap for the 27-year-old and a big improvement on his recent first round form.

He opened the Tournament of Champions and Saudi International, his first two starts of 2021, with sub-70 scores, but then it went horribly wrong.

At the Genesis Invitational he started with a 75 and couldn't recover to make the cut.

Then last week's Workday Championship was even worse: a Thursday 77.

He responded with an excellent 64 in round two, but his chances of contending were busted almost before they began.

It's a different story this week and the numbers show that his long game, above and beyond the bluster about the sixth hole, is in excellent shape.

He ranked second for Strokes Gained tee to Green and tied third for Green in Regulation on Thursday.

Less promisingly, however, he was only 40th for SG Putting and admitted: "I was struggling with the putter. I didn't feel too comfortable."

He'll need to sort that out because every winner of this event since 2011 has ranked 13th or better in that category.

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