The Masters 2022: Wannabe Master criminal Bryson DeChambeau returns to take on Augusta National

The big hitter is out of form, has an awkward relationship with Augusta National and is playing this week against medical advice.

When Bryson DeChambeau ripped up the yardage book on his way to a six-shot victory in the 2020 US Open traditionalists were appalled by the prospect of future major championship venues being reduced to bomb-and-gouge battle zones.

Within weeks DeChambeau was heading to Augusta National for that year's delayed Masters and playing up to his role as chief villain of the sport.

Not shy of highlighting his own brainpower, he started that week by adopting the Machiavellian wiles of Professor Moriarty, but ended it looking about as one-dimensional as Professor Plum.

Not so much the mastermind foe of Sherlock Holmes (the Napoleon of Crime), more like a boorish, and ultimately blunt, attack with the lead piping.

"I'm looking at it as a par-67 for me because I can reach all the par-5s in two, no problem," he said of Augusta National, adding details of his own version of the Drive, Chip and Putt competition on the par-4s.

The reaction to his plans was similar to the words Holmes used to describe his arch enemy: "He's the greatest schemer of all time, the organiser of every devilry, the controlling brain of the underworld!"

However, he then he shot a distinctly underwhelming 70-74-69-73, the par-67 gags flew thick and fast, and the end game was absolutely not: "Bryson DeChambeau, in the Butler Cabin, with the Green Jacket."

Five months later he was back at Augusta, ramping up the dastardly plans and devious schemes as if the previous event had never happened.

Asked about the tee shot at the first, DeChambeau said: "I'm trying to see how far right I can go."

"Over the trees on the right?" came the response, with a slightly appalled gasp.

"Yeah."

He also had a secret weapon. "I won't go into specifics of it, but just know this has been a few years in the making and I'm very excited for it," he said.

"Whether it helps me perform at a higher level, I'm not sure, because it's golf and you never know what happens.

"Definitely what I've seen on the driving range and what I've seen the last week in practice, there's some tremendous benefits to it."

Head-scratching times.
Head-scratching times.

"Do you think that you are extraordinarily talented?" someone asked him.

"Well, you saying that makes me humbled, and I appreciate that," he replied. "I don't know the extent of my talent."

"I'm still going down numerous rabbit holes and I will never stop, not only to win golf tournaments but to definitely win this tournament.

"This has been on my radar since I was a kid, and now that I've accomplished winning the US Open, this is the next goal for me.

"I will not stop my pursuit of knowledge of the game, knowledge of the body, knowledge of the golf swing.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to execution."

If you didn't already think he was babbling he ended all debate by concluding: "I think I am obviously a spotlight. I think all of us players are a spotlight, and we have an obligation to try and be a light."

To be fair to the current World No. 14 he did post a 67 in the second round, but he'd opened with a 76 and he carded a pair of 75s at the weekend.

He admitted after his final round that the tournament committee had rendered him less potent not by addressing his great hitting power, but by taking away the gadgetry with which he approaches the game scientifically.

"Not having the help, the greens books and calibration tools that I usually use, it's definitely a test and something I'm willing to stand up to try and conquer it," he said.

Like someone served food they don't much like, but wanting to be polite, he added: "It's an interesting challenge for me and I love it."

In the 12 months since, he's failed to add to his trophy cabinet, split with his caddie, caused a rift with his equipment manufacturer, flirted with Saudi Arabia, lost form, aggravated a sore hip, and fractured his hand playing ping pong with Sergio Garcia.

Never one to make a mountain out of a molehill, he said this week: "One of the things I didn't do is take care of my hands and my hip like I should have. Albeit I wouldn't do anything else to change what happened because it's made me a better person because of it. I've learned a little bit more about my body and how to respond and how to recover in a better manner.

"Taking six weeks off, I've realised that golf isn't everything in life. I'm not going to be here forever, so I might as well do my best to give back to the game of golf and give back to the kids as much as possible.

"That's really made me a different person and I hope a better person."

Can he compete this week?

"I'm probably around 80%. I can't go all-out. It's allowed me to become a little smarter in how I practice.

"It was a huge risk, (returning) a couple of weeks ago. It was probably not what my doctors recommended, but I decided to do so because I wanted to give this tournament a run."

He's an extraordinary character who alienates many, but we should be glad we've got him. He's maybe not quite as fiendish as he'd like, but it's tremendous fun watching him try to be.

READ MORE: The Masters 2022: Florida results could help find answer to Green Jacket conundrum

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