Bryson DeChambeau dodges questions, misses the cut at Rocket Mortgage Classic

DETROIT – When Bryson DeChambeau tugged his tee shot at the par-3 fifth hole on Friday at Detroit Golf Club, the ball bounced hard left and buried in a cavernous bunker.

Was it another case of the “bad luck” DeChambeau said had doomed him on the back nine of the final round of the U.S. Open? We don’t know because he declined to speak to the press for the second straight day after his round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

But this we do know: DeChambeau vented after short-siding himself and making bogey. “Ugh, I hate golf,” he moaned.

Does he really “hate golf?” Well, don’t we all a little bit when we miss a shot. But we can’t say for sure because he refused to answer questions after his round.

For the record, DeChambeau shot an uneven round of 1-under 71 on Friday morning and his 36-hole total of 1-under 143 will surely miss the 36-hole cut. It’s not unusual for a player to decline to speak after a poor round, but DeChambeau is one of Rocket Mortgage’s paid ambassadors. As defending champion, he’s the face of the tournament and as the top-ranked player in the field and one of the most popular players in golf, he has a responsibility to answer questions even when the topic doesn’t suit him.

Of course, the reason he declined to speak is obvious. He got blindsided late on Wednesday when Tim Tucker, his caddie for all eight of his PGA Tour victories, quit him. DeChambeau’s agent released a statement that they “mutually agreed to go their separate ways.” But, c’mon, no breakups are mutual, especially when they happen on the eve of a tournament, just weeks before his pursuit of another major and appearances in the Olympics and Ryder Cup are on the horizon.

His caddie, Tim Tucker, took the high road, telling Golfweek via text before DeChambeau teed off on Thursday that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see him win Rocket Mortgage. He is hitting it great.” So, what went wrong for DeChambeau this week? If only we could have asked him.

He mentioned in his pre-tournament interview that his wedge game would be key and it clearly let him down. He ranked 152nd in the field in proximity to the hole. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in the first round (second overall) and driving distance, but failed to take advantage of it. He ranked 148th out of 156 in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, losing nearly 3.5 strokes.

Shooting even par on Thursday, with preferred lies, left DeChambeau needing to make up ground on Friday and he played a clean card on the back nine, his first nine holes of the day, making two birdies at the par 5s and the rest pars. He was poised to make a run, but his best efforts backfired. A sloppy chip that raced 18 feet past the hole led to a bogey at the first and he had to work hard to salvage par at the second.

DeChambeau did an interesting thing at the third hole, which was listed at 398 yards on Friday. He waited for the green to clear. “I’ve never seen that happen on the PGA Tour, where you’re waiting for par-4 greens to clear of that length,” said Kramer Hickok, who played in DeChambeau’s group.

DeChambeau gave the crowd what they waited for, belting a 347-yard blast – “I missed it,” he said with a smile – and it sent the crowd into a frenzy. But it was all for naught as from 50 yards, he wedged 23 feet below the hole and made par.

“Great drive, though,” a fan said as DeChambeau walked to the next tee with his head down.

He made a birdie at the par-5 fourth and things were looking up again, but that’s when he hit his “I hate golf” shot and made bogeys at Nos. 5 and 6 to go back to even par.

“No wonder he looks so pissed,” one fan said to another when they discovered he’d dropped another stroke.

DeChambeau looked dejected and it’s easy to guess – he didn’t speak to the media so we can’t say for sure – that the loss of his caddie or perhaps being trolled yet again by Brooks Koepka, who declared July 1 to be Caddie Appreciation Day, distracted DeChambeau from the task at hand.

He made one final run at making the cut, holing a 7-foot birdie at the par-5 seventh hole. And so when it was his turn to hit at the 361-yard eighth hole, the easiest hole on the course which had already surrendered 28 birdies to the field on the day, DeChambeau, the big bopper, waited again for the green to clear. He even joked at one point, “Did I fake you out?” when the crowd thought he might hit.

“I try not to watch,” said Hickock, who beat DeChambeau by four strokes over 36 holes despite averaging nearly 40 yards less off the tee.

DeChambeau crushed his drive 343 yards into the left rough, pitched to 7 feet and had to have the putt to keep alive his chances of making the cut. He missed.

Last year, he left Detroit with a trophy and the validation that his Incredible Bulk experiment was working. This time, he left without a caddie, with question marks about his game and without saying a word.


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Bryson DeChambeau and his caddie part ways ahead of Rocket Mortgage Classic

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