A year after withdrawing before the start of the US PGA Championship following hand surgery, Bryson DeChambeau set the clubhouse target on a weather-delayed opening day at Oak Hill.
DeChambeau carded six birdies and two bogeys in an opening four-under-par 66 on a course that lived up to comparisons with Winged Foot, the venue for his dominant US Open victory in 2020.
Much has happened to the 29-year-old since then, including a feud with Brooks Koepka, being labelled an eight-year-old by his equipment manufacturer after complaining his driver “sucks” during the Open Championship and abandoning his unhealthy bulking regime.
DeChambeau also joined LIV Golf last year, five months after pledging his loyalty to the PGA Tour, while Thursday’s round included accidentally hitting fellow competitor Kenny Pigman – who was on the 18th tee – with a wild approach to the 17th.
“It’s a fantastic round of golf at Oak Hill,” DeChambeau said. “It’s a prestigious place. Very difficult golf course.
“As I was looking at it throughout the week, I’m like, man, I don’t know how shooting under par is even possible out here on some of the golf holes.
“But, luckily, I was able to play some really good golf, hit a lot of fairways, did my job and made some putts.
“It’s a different test (to Winged Foot) and a test that I’m willing take on. If you’re driving it well and hitting your irons well, you can play out here, but it can get pretty nasty pretty quick if you’re not hitting it straight.”
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A combination of injuries, loss of form and joining LIV Golf – which cannot award world ranking points for its events – means DeChambeau has fallen from a career-high of fourth in the standings to 214th.
And he admitted there were times when he doubted whether he would ever be able to get back to the top of the game.
“How serious were they? There were times I doubted myself, severe doubts, but never got to a point where I was done. Maybe for like a day I was done, I’m just going to take a day off, whatever, and the next day I came back.
“The emotions have definitely fluctuated pretty high and pretty low, thinking I have something and it fails and going back and forth.
“It’s humbling. Golf, and life, always has a good way of kicking you on your you-know-what when you are on your high horse. It’s nice to feel this today.”