Bryson DeChambeau - at 80% - will try to win the Masters

AUGUSTA — We are about to find out how Bryson DeChambeau – with health and golf game he estimates at 80% – will fare at the Masters.

He has struggled during his six tours around Augusta National even when completely healthy. Now he will venture to claim the coveted major title just three weeks back from a pair of injuries that have sidelined him for the better part of two months. DeChambeau has not played since the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January, when he finally decided to step away to heal from a fractured bone in his left hand and a partially torn labrum in his left hip.

“I can’t go all-out,” DeChambeau said Monday. “I can’t do any speed-training sessions. I can’t practice for excessive hours like I have to figure stuff out.”

There is stuff to figure out as DeChambeau returns from the injuries. He has dropped to No. 19 in the World Golf Ranking, down five spots just from last week. He is 214th in the FedEx Cup point standings after playing just four events this year. He has one top-25 finish and two missed cuts. He finished T-58 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open with rounds of 73 and 76 the past two weeks.

DeChambeau seemingly has the length to overpower Augusta National Golf Club. He claimed last fall that the course should play as a par-68 for him. Yet, his best finish is a tie for 21st in 2016 when he played as an amateur.

“Well, at 80%, I’m still around 190 ball speed,” DeChambeau said. “So, it’s not bad from a speed perspective. From a chipping and putting perspective, I’m getting really close to having my A-game there. Close to an A-game there. (Coach) Chris Como and I are working rigorously on it. We’ve been working hard for the past three weeks since I’ve come back.

“And it’s been a bit of unravelling this knot that I’ve had in my game for the past four years. We’re finally moving in a direction that I feel is positive for me being able to win again, hopefully, regularly like I did in 2018.”

It’s well documented how DeChambeau transformed his body and turned into the ultimate ball-crusher, capable of astounding with long drives. He won the 2020 U.S. Open and appeared to be on the fast track. Then came the injuries.

DeChambeau said he suffered the hip injury two years ago when he slipped on concrete while speed training. He said he first injured his hand when he felt a pop while preparing for the November match play against Brooks Koepka. It got progressively worse. Finally, while in Saudi Arabia for a tournament this year, he said he fell while playing ping-pong with Sergio Garcia and Joaquin Niemann. He slipped on a marble floor and landed on both hip and hand.

It was time to shut it down.

DeChambeau thought he would be out for four months. In fact, doctors advised him to take the full recovery time and completely heal. However, with the Masters calling, DeChambeau wanted to give the major a try after just two months. He called playing the world match-play event “a huge risk.” He added that it’s known he tends to go against the grain.

Then why play?

“(The doctors) recommended that I don’t come back for a while,” DeChambeau said. “They said if you go out and hit golf balls and you feel somewhat comfortable, you consider it, and they are like, you should really let it heal.

“And even Chris has told me, you probably shouldn’t play, even though he wants me to play, obviously, right. But he’s really looking out for my best interests for the future. I’m like, man, this only comes around once a year, and I’ve got to give this a go.”

And here we go.