Bryson DeChambeau is never far from golf’s headlines and the 2023 PGA Championship is proving no exception.
The polarising American shot to the top of the leaderboard with a first-round 66 at Oak Hill Country Club in the latest sign that he is on the verge of rediscovering the form that saw him overwhelm Winged Foot en route to a six-shot victory at the 2020 US Open.
Since then, a lot has happened. DeChambeau drew the ire of his equipment supplier when he said “the driver sucks” during the 2021 Open. At the start of last year, he pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour in its quarrel with LIV Golf, only to then join the breakaway circuit months later for a reported six-figure signing-on fee.
Amongst all that, he’s suffered with injuries, symptoms of vertigo, undergone surgery, radically transformed his body again, and fallen outside the top 200 in the world rankings, having been as high as fourth less than two years ago.
He’s a golfer who is impossible to predict and, to an extent, understand, so the motive behind his latest stunt is anyone’s guess. For joining LIV, DeChambeau was suspended from the PGA Tour, therefore putting his future participation in the Ryder Cup in serious jeopardy.
It’s been a major talking point while LIV remains unrecognised by the Official World Golf Ranking. Naturally, then, when the heavens opened over Oak Hill on Friday, DeChambeau whipped out a Team USA umbrella from his 2021 appearance in the biennial dust-up at Whistling Straits.
It could be nothing more than a coincidence, of course, or perhaps it’s simply a piece of memorabilia he’s proud of. Or could it be DeChambeau aiming a subtle dig in the direction of the PGA of America, the body that jointly administers the event with Ryder Cup Europe, at their flagship tournament?
At this point, who knows? Whatever the case, he, and the rest of his American LIV colleagues, will need some strong finishes in the year’s remaining Majors to force their way into Zach Johnson’s plans for the 2023 showdown in Rome.
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