SAN DIEGO — The pinging sound of golf balls hitting off a driver could be heard well into the evening after the first round of the U.S. Open was complete Thursday.
There was a single player on the practice range after play was suspended because of darkness at Torrey Pines, and it was no coincidence that it was Bryson DeChambeau, noted as one of the hardest-working range-rats on the PGA Tour.
DeChambeau, the defending U.S. Open champion, was agitated by the 2-over 73 he posted in the opening round and which had left him determined to figure something out before he went home for the evening.
“I didn’t find anything,’’ DeChambeau said, referring to his evening session after he shot a 2-under 69 Friday to climb back into contention — five shots behind the leaders — at even par for the tournament. “I found something this morning. I walked off pretty frustrated [Thursday]. I was sleeping and it came to me in the middle of the night, woke up and I was like, ‘Hmm, I’m going to try this.’
“My intuition is pretty good, so I went out and tried it and it worked, just keeping the right wrist bent for a lot longer through impact. For me it’s all about stabilizing the face, and so I was able to find that, and it worked out there for the most part. Irons, it didn’t work, but driver, it worked.’’
Asked whether he writes it down when an idea pops into his head in the middle of the night, DeChambeau said: “I remember it for the most part. It’s one simple thought. It’s usually not a complex series of things.
“It’s more just my intuition telling me there’s something weird here, what’s going on, and I couldn’t figure it out for an hour and a half [Thursday] night. And, going back and just sitting down, eating dinner and just thinking about it, I literally won’t talk to anybody for like an hour, just thinking, thinking, thinking, and sure enough, I went to bed and I found a little something that worked for my driver.’’
DeChambeau said he’ll “kind of wake up in a daze and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m going to try that,’ and go right back to sleep.’’
“It’s all about making myself feel comfortable,’’ he said. “I feel like I’ve never won with my ‘A’ game in all areas. I’ve won with certain parts of my game being in the ‘A’ game area, but for the most part my whole game hasn’t been that way, and I want to see the day that I can have everything flowing on all cylinders.’’
DeChambeau said this week he has his “C, C-plus game with my irons, and my driving is like B, putting is A.’’
“I feel like if I can clean up my iron play and get a little more comfortable with the irons and the drivers, I’ll have a good chance for this weekend,’’ he said.
Thus, the night session at the range.
“Yeah, I couldn’t see very well, and it obviously being very dark, they shut the lights off, which is fine,’’ DeChambeau said. “I’ve hit golf balls in the dark plenty of times. But at a certain point I was getting so frustrated with myself. I was just trying a bunch of different things and I just got fed up with it and I said, ‘Let’s go back, sit back and just think of what has got you here and what makes you feel comfortable.’ ’’