Bill Elliott takes a look the congested leaderboard and considers what has happened to the challenge of Bryson DeChambeau
Whatever else they are doing at the Masters this week they are definitely not social distancing.
When the second round finally finished this afternoon there were five men tied for the lead and another 29 within six shots. That’s close any time but in a Masters with 36 nerve jangling holes to go it is positively claustrophobic.
With the No.1, 2 and 3 golfers on the world rankings – Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas – in that leading quintet and an orchestra of other highly ranked players just a few bogeys adrift the scene is now set for the ultimate shoot-out today and Sunday. Fasten your seatbelts folks, we are about to take off.
And probably heading towards a play-off.
One man who will not be involved in any play-off is our old friend Bryson DeChambeau. He has had the Masters of his nightmares to this point. He made the cut by a shot, his face twisted in disappointment as he tip-toed through the cut.
He was unlucky yesterday to lose a ball in soft earth, a fluke of nature that seemed to spear his confidence and certainly vaporised his bravado. When he bragged that par at Augusta, for him, was 67 he set himself up as the biggest fall guy since Goliath failed to take wee David seriously enough.
By the end of play last night he felt so disoriented, so dizzy and nauseous that he was taken away for a Covid test. Thankfully he came through that okay but this was his only successful outcome since this Masters began.
While I admire his chutzpath as much as I’m confused by his narrow-eyed, quasi-scientific approach to a game that is, in reality, a mixture of nerve, art and business, DeChambeau needs to learn a lesson and learn it fast… This is to turn up, tone down the boasting and focus on quietly getting on with things. When he wins, if he wins, he may say what he likes and we’ll listen to him attentively.
Full marks, however, for the manner in which he fought to make that cut. Wherever he now finishes he doesn’t need the money and so it would have been understandable if he had chosen to slip away quietly and watch this Masters finish back home on his TV, a glass of something reviving in his hand.
That he chose to take a harder route is to his credit and he should be applauded. The harsh fact, however, is that this is not the applause he was seeking this week after a strategy that so many people naively and prematurely bought into.
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