From the moment U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau steps to the tee-box Thursday morning on No. 1 at Augusta National during the first round at the 2016 Masters, he'll have the spotlight. That's largely because of one his playing partners, Jordan Spieth, the 22-year-old superstar and defending tournament champion who has been pegged, alongside Rory McIlroy, as golf's future.
But DeChambeau, also 22, is a bright young star in his own right. Jim Litke of the Associated Press wrote his debut at the Masters "may be the most anticipated since Jordan Spieth's a couple years ago."
— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) April 6, 2016
DeChambeau, alongside his U.S. Amateur title, captured the NCAA title last year while at Southern Methodist University (SMU), a double-win accomplished previously by only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore. The amateur is largely expected to soon turn pro, and to prepare he's played a series of pro events across the world over the past half a year, which he dubbed an "internship" of sorts. Results have been mixed. In his last tournament the late March Arnold Palmer Invitational, for instance, DeChambeau middled his way through three even-par rounds before shooting an impressive final-round 66 and earning a solid tied-for-27th finish.
But perhaps even more than his on-course play, DeChambeau is known for his unique approach to the game and off-center personality. He was physics student at SMU and embraces unconventional methods using a scientific approach. His iron clubs, for instance, are all one length, while nearly every player and every major golf equipment company changes the length of the each club. DeChambeau is almost defiantly confident about his choices.
"I’m a golfing scientist," he said after a round in Abu Dhabi. "Every day is a learning process. So I don’t play with any emotion. I try to do my best to analyze and perform in the situation. I try to analyze and understand every aspect of the golf course and the way I play."
DeChambeau has become well-known and has a reputation for being quirky, even saying he's "just a little bit different." DeChambeau, for instance, is bucking common trends by breaking in a new set of those all-the-same-length clubs at the 2016 Master, and earned a bit of press from the golf media by giving each club a name (some of which were Masters inspired) instead of using the typical number system.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 5, 2016
"He comes at the game from such a different point of view," said Mickelson after playing a practice round with DeChambeau, according to the AP. "And he has such well-thought out opinions as to why and how it should be played a certain way, a different way, the way that he plays it."
The 22-year-old set for a 9:48 a.m. EDT tee-time, playing alongside Spieth and Paul Casey. And while he has yet to turn pro, DeChambeau, has become famous to earn high expectations. CBS' Jim Nantz, who has been commentating at the Masters for 30 years, told Golf Digest, "It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this young man contend. ...Bryson is the one who has the capacity to utterly change golf."