Bryson DeChambeau has insisted Matt Fitzpatrick’s comments that the American was “making a mockery of golf” with his extreme distance were a compliment.
Fitzpatrick did not hold back on his opinion of DeChambeau’s power strategy, claiming his big hitting was less of a skill than having to utilise every club in the bag while calling for golf’s authorities to act quickly to reduce the distance a ball can travel.
“It doesn’t matter if I play my best, he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee,” said Fitzpatrick shortly after earning a share of the halfway lead at the BMW PGA Championship. “You know, the only thing I can compete with him is putting, and that’s just ridiculous.”
But after a second-round 67 left DeChambeau one off the lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he “appreciated” Fitzpatrick’s opinion and claimed it was more of a skill to have so much power at his disposal.
After listening to Fitzpatrick’s comments, DeChambeau said: “I appreciate that, it’s a compliment to me honestly. A year ago I wasn’t hitting in anywhere near as far as I am today. It took a lot of work, a lot of hours to work through the night to figure out a lot of this stuff.
“I would say it actually takes more skill to do what I’m doing, and albeit my fairway percentages are a little bit down, I’m still believe I’m hitting it straighter than what I was last year with the distances that I was hitting back then.
“So I actually appreciate those comments. I think he’s looking out for certain set of players, and I appreciate that. My whole goal is to play the best golf I possibly can, and this game has given me the opportunity showcase something pretty special.
“I feel like I’ve started to go down a path that’s allowed me to have an advantage over everyone, and I think that is a skillset when you look at it. For me out there today, I was still able to hit a lot of fairways at 360 yards. That’s tough to do with drivers.
“If anything, it’s more difficult to hit more fairways the way I’m doing it with the rules the way it is today. It’s more built for players like Matthew Fitzpatrick and his distances and players like that. So from my perspective, I think it takes a little bit more skill to do what I’m doing, and that’s why there are only a few people doing it out here.”
DeChambeau, who powered to a six-shot win in the US Open at Winged Foot last month, even offered to meet with Fitzpatrick to discuss the issue and encourage the Sheffield golfer to follow the same route to success.
“You know, I actually appreciate it, because I would love to have a conversation with him about it and say, ‘Hey, man, I would love to help out. Why couldn’t you do it, too?’
“You see Rory and DJ doing the same thing, too. They’re seeing that distinct advantage, and I feel like it’s great are for the game of golf. I don’t think it takes less skill. I’m still putting it great; still wedging it mediocre, the same, maybe a little bit better. It shows out here that I’m still hitting fairways.
“Yeah, I do hit a couple of errant shots, but I do hit a lot of fairways, I still hit great irons, and I make a lot putts. I still think there is a lot of the skill in that.”
Scotland’s Martin Laird moved into a share of the halfway lead in Las Vegas after he eagled his final hole to cap an eight-under 63 and move to 14 under, tied at the top with Patrick Cantlay, Brian Harman and Austin Cook.
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DeChambeau missed a series of good birdie chances, although he did hole a great putt for eagle after driving the green at the 380-yard seventh hole, and he also eagled the 16th to get within one shot of the leaders.
Sergio Garcia kept up his challenge for back-to-back PGA Tour wins after he fired a 64 which included a spectacular hole-out for an eagle-two at the sixth, and the Spaniard heads into the weekend well-placed on 12 under par.
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