Beast and predator Bryson DeChambeau smells blood at Bay Hill

It is not just DeChambeau’s size that has been transformed in recent times, he has also proved himself a deadly hunter of 54-hole leaders.

It's easy, and quite fun, to view Bryson DeChambeau through a series of cartoonish depictions.

Whether he is painting lurid self portraits or being caricatured by outsiders, it is nothing but colourful and entertaining.

He started off as a mad scientist, then became a monstrous barbarian at the walls of St Andrews, first meddling with the golfing equivalent of test tubes, the next thrashing balls at the game's foundation like some sort of medieval trebuchet.

And here's another another one for the collection - DeChambeau has become a predator.

Not a stealthy, cat-like one, obviously.

A bit tricky, that, when you cast a shadow wider than the White House.

But a very effective predator, which means he's in great shape heading into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational trailing Lee Westwood by just the one shot.

DeChambeau's recent history in such circumstances is strong and it makes him a worthy 9/4 favourite with Skybet.

Lamb in Wolf's clothing

It has not always been the case that the 27-year-old was happy when hunting vulnerable leaders.

In July 2018 he found himself tied at the top of the leaderboard at the European Open with Richard McEvoy.

DeChambeau was not the size he is today, but he had a mighty reputation and the notion of mild mannered McEvoy knocking him off his perch was inconceivable to all but McEvoy's family and friends in Southend.

Yet, rather gloriously, that's exactly what happened.

McEvoy plotted a calm route through the perils of the final round while, in complete contrast, DeChambeau imploded in catastrophic style, eventually carding a 78 that left him T13th.

Earlier that season he had twice been second with 18 holes to play on the PGA Tour.

Both times he was just the one blow back of the lead and both times that gap not only failed to narrow, but was actually extended.

Perhaps the blow to his pride inflicted by McEvoy taught DeChambeau a lesson.

Because ever since then, DeChambeau's performance when entering the final round on the shoulder of the leader has been deadly.

Quick learner

It didn't take him long to learn the lesson.

DeChambeau poses a final round threat.
DeChambeau poses a final round threat.

In August 2018, just weeks after the humbling in Germany, he carded a brilliant 63 to lie just one shot back of the 54-hole leader Abraham Ancer in the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

A fourth round 67 sealed the deal and he was asked about the business of being the hunter or the hunted.

"If I keep executing the right shots I can't do much more than that," he said, his choice of words indicating he was consciously or subconsciously eyeing up his prey.

Wolff hunter

In the natural world, the wolf is a predator.

In golf in 2020, DeChambeau flipped the situation and preyed on Matthew Wolff.

In July he trailed his fellow big-hitter after three rounds of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but his 65 turned a three shot deficit into a three shot victory and the vocabulary hadn't changed, talking again of "executing" when the pressure was on and revealing that he planned to celebrate with a juicy steak.

Two and a half months later he found himself in familiar territory.

Three rounds completed. Lying second. Trailing Wolff.

This time the gap was two and the tournament was the US Open, but there was more repetition to come.

DeChambeau closed with a 67, Wolff with 75.

DeChambeau won a first Major Championship and then talked some more about executions.

He was referring to his shots, but, having been downed twice in one summer, Wolff might have wondered otherwise.

Bay Hill

The last three times DeChambeau has been second with 18 holes to play, he's won.

Now he finds himself second again and his own record is far from being the only evidence in his favour.

The leader, Lee Westwood, is just 1-for-5 with PGA Tour 54-hole advantages.

The man he shares second with, Corey Conners, is seeking just a second PGA Tour win.

And the tournament favours front runners: 22 of the last 23 winners were tied third or better after three rounds, 17 of them tied second or better.

If DeChambeau's nose is twitching, it might be because he's smelling blood.

* DeChambeau is 9/4 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational with Skybet.

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