The hype surrounding Bryson DeChambeau’s pro debut was palpable. It also seems that it was warranted. The 22-year-old would-be SMU senior finished T-4 at the RBC Heritage in his first PGA Tour start, earning a paycheck of $259,600.
Not a bad first week on the job. And he also seems to be enjoying the perks of the new gig:
But DeChambeau's performance gets more impressive when you compare his pro debut with some of golf’s biggest names. For instance, a 20-year-old Tiger Woods finished T-60 at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
And what about the current Big 3? Jason Day finished T-67 at the 2006 John Deere Classic, Rory McIlroy finished T-42 at the 2007 British Masters, and Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open. Yes, they were all younger than DeChambeau at the time, but these facts certainly won’t diminish the Bryson buzz.
"It's tough to really sum up," said DeChambeau of his pro debut. "What I can tell you is it's been quite a journey so far these past couple of weeks. It's an honor to be playing out here with these big boys, trying to do my best. Hopefully, I can keep competing out there, and hopefully, I can get a couple of wins out there."
To earn his PGA Tour card, DeChambeau will have to do far less. Essentially, he needs to earn about the equivalent of FedEx Cup points as what the No. 150 player earned last year (361) in his seven allowed sponsors exemptions plus any other starts he earns (For instance, by finishing in the top 10 at Harbour Town, DeChambeau qualified for this week’s Valero Texas Open) in order to play on tour the rest of the year. Then if he earns as many points or money as No. 125 player on this season's lists, he gets his card for the 2016-2017 season.
That 259,600 number might be the number DeChambeau is most excited about right now, but it’s a 2.661 figure that is the most telling of his staying power on the PGA Tour. That was DeChambeau’s strokes gained/tee to green stat for his first start, which easily led the field at Harbour Town -- a course that doesn’t even let him maximize his talents due to its relatively short length. That kind of ball-striking can turn even a mediocre putting performance (DeChambeau was 46th in strokes gained/putting at -0.11) into a top-five finish against a pretty strong field of world-class golfers.
A week before, he finished T-21 against a very strong field of world-class golfers at the Masters. If DeChambeau’s much-talked about one-plane swing and same-length irons continue this type of tee-to-green performance, he’ll certainly be able to hang with “these big boys.” Perhaps, even the Big 3.