CROMWELL, Conn. — If you’re wondering why I’m writing about Bryson DeChambeau again, I’ll tell you why: Because I can’t take my eyes off of him.
This isn’t a man-crush. It’s pure fascination. The guy is five hours of theater every time he tees it up now.
With due respect to Lee Majors, the 26-year-old DeChambeau has turned himself into a modern-day “$6 Million Man’’ (not including inflation).
He’s transformed his old self (which was pretty damned good considering his five PGA Tour victories from 2017-19) into this new, bulked-up being that looks like it can leap tall buildings in a single bound. With his biceps bulging through his sleeves, he’s Popeye in a golf shirt.
The new DeChambeau, with his 25 pounds of added muscle, has not yet won. But he’s vaulted himself front-and-center as one of the most entertaining stories in golf since the PGA Tour restarted its season three weeks ago at Colonial Country Club.
DeChambeau, whose added length off the tee made even Rory McIlroy, one of the longest hitters in the game, blush as he watched DeChambeau air-mail tee shots past his at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
DeChambeau finished tied for third at Colonial. Then he finished tied for eighth at the RBC Heritage last week at Hilton Head.
Now, as the Travelers Championship enters its final round Sunday at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau is in contention to win yet again, having shot a 5-under 65 in Saturday’s third round to stand at 13-under.
That has him five shots behind leader Brendon Todd, whose 9-under 61 on Saturday got him to 18-under with a two-shot lead over Dustin Johnson.
It’s likely going to take a career round for DeChambeau to win Sunday. So, for the third consecutive week, for all of the progress he’s made, it’s likely DeChambeau again will go home without a trophy, the big check and bonus FedExCup points.
The previous two weeks, he let one round derail his chancing of winning. They both were Saturday 70s. He bettered that number by five shots Saturday, but believed it should have been considerably lower — just as he believed the previous two rounds should have been, too.
This is a central part of what draws you to DeChambeau: He wears his emotions so prominently on his sleeve that, when a shot doesn’t go exactly where his analytical brain was willing it to go, he looks utterly dumbfounded.
DeChambeau, who is a cumulative 44-under in the 11 rounds he has played since the PGA Tour restart, expects every shot to be perfect. And when it isn’t, his expression tells you he believes he’s been wronged.
“There were plenty of shots where I had these massive jumpers and I don’t understand them one bit,’’ DeChambeau said, sounding like a scientist who’s been left in the lab perplexed by an experiment gone sideways. “They come out randomly. Those are things that kind of dumbfound me, and that’s golf. If I could figure that out, I’d be that much closer to figuring out the game. That will never happen.’’
That, of course, won’t deter him in his pursuit of perfection.
“I’m right on the cusp of doing something really fun,’’ DeChambeau said, sounding stoked by the thought.
“Fun’’ equates to winning. But he insists he’s not obsessing on the result at the moment, rather on his path.
“I’m not even worried about that,’’ DeChambeau said. “That’s one of those things that when everything lines up and comes into play, that’ll take care of itself. What I have to do is imagine that I’m like the casino and just keep playing.’’
There will come a time, though, when not winning will wear on DeChambeau’s psyche. If that win doesn’t come Sunday, how long until it does? And, how long does DeChambeau stay sane without his hard work rewarded with a win or three?
“I think I already am feeling the rewards of it,’’ he said. “I’m plus-33 strokes gained off the tee since February 10th. That’s pretty good. Iron play has been good, putting has been decent. Chipping around the greens is something I need to improve on. I don’t feel like it’s that bad, it just isn’t great.’’
DeChambeau, though, believes “great’’ is waiting for him on the next tee box.
“I’ve had a chance to shoot 63 every single day out here and haven’t done it,’’ he said. “I think that’s in play [Sunday]. And if I go out and birdie the first couple holes and give myself a chance on [numbers] 3 and 4, it’s ‘Watch out.’ ’’
A common analogy DeChambeau has been using of late has been about “playing the casino.’’ Asked if he’s referring to himself as a player or the house, he said, “I’m definitely trying to be the house.’’
The house, of course, always wins.