The future appears bright for Bryson DeChambeau both on and off the golf course. After an impressive showing at Augusta and in his pro debut, DeChambeau could be on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in the sport.
The native of Modesto, California, raised eyebrows at the Masters, finishing tied for 21st place. He then turned pro and tied for fourth place at five-under par, winning $259,600 at the RBC Heritage. DeChambeau had one of the most memorable debuts in recent memory, performing much better than Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy when they turned pro.
Woods tied for 60th place at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open in his debut, while Spieth and Mickelson didn’t even make the cut when they first joined the tour. McIlroy tied for 42nd place at the British Masters.
One of only a few golfers to win the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship in the same year—Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did so as well—DeChambeau certainly has the potential to have an outstanding career. He could also be poised for plenty of money off the course.
Dr. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, sees the potential of the upstart talent who shined at Southern Methodist University. Rishe likes the look DeChambeau has cultivated, and believes he could be a worthwhile investment for golf brands looking to take an educated gamble on a burgeoning star.
“Certainly, he doesn’t compare [to other young golf stars] in terms of what he has done on the professional tour because he just joined it. But I like the idea that he has created a particular look almost reminiscent of Payne Stewart, in some respects, with the hat,” Rishe told International Business Times in a phone interview.
“I think DeChambeau has the look. I think he has the style. It’s just a question of, does he have the game?”
Rishe isn’t convinced that DeChambeau will be as good as the top golfers in the world, and it isn’t fair to assume that the 22-year-old will ever achieve the same success as the likes of Spieth, McIlroy or Jason Day. But the potential is clearly there, and so is the hype.
DeChambeau already has one sponsorship, wearing the hat made by Cobra-Puma that makes him standout on the course.
“We think he has a chance to make it iconic … we see an opportunity there,” Cobra-Puma CEO Bob Philion said, via USA Today. “We don’t have the most players on tour, but we have quality. We took one look at all the things this kid has going on and thought he was a dream.”
But the endorsements won’t roll in unless DeChambeau starts winning tournaments. Woods didn’t simply start earning endorsements because of his name recognition. He won five majors before he turned 25 years old, and he’s earned more money on the PGA Tour than any golfer in history.
“I think if he’s able to, over the course of the next couple of years, win some large tournaments, if not majors but some of the larger stops on the tour, it makes him more marketable,” Rishe said.
“The ceiling for any player in part depends upon what they’re doing first and foremost on the course. I have no doubt he can be competitive and win some tournaments very soon. But just how much he’ll be able to parlay that success endorsement-wise really depends upon him winning.
"He’s got everything else.”