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The Loop

Bryson DeChambeau is keeping busy prepping for the Masters, turning pro

January 13, 2016

There were nine agents on the first tee at The Concession Golf Club in Florida last June when Bryson DeChambeau, then an SMU junior, teed off in the final round of the 2015 NCAA Championship. Five months later, seven made presentations at an “Agents Day” in Dallas. The DeChambeau sweepstakes winner—The Legacy Agency—was announced last week.

Things are moving fast for the NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion. Legacy, which also represents Jim Furyk and Patrick Reed, pointed DeChambeau in the right direction to secure exemptions (and face time) on the European Tour. In January he will be on Golf Channel from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. His second-place finish at the Australian Masters in November certainly helped the 22-year-old’s credibility while still an amateur, or “amateur intern” as DeChambeau has defined himself while waiting for Augusta and the Masters.

As part of the internship—which will end April 11 if DeChambeau sticks to his current thinking about turning pro—he has made one exploratory trip to Augusta and has plans for four more visits before the Masters. We’ve been texting through the winter months, and Bryson described his two rounds at Augusta National in December as the greatest experience he’s ever had. “Bobby Jones’ spirit is alive and well there,” he said.

The highly educated Jones, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and another in English literature from Harvard, would have been intrigued by the artist and the scientist in the young man from Clovis, Calif. According to DeChambeau’s coach, Mike Schy, Jones won the Grand Slam using a set of same-length irons, a distinctive characteristic of Bryson’s David Edel-made clubs, which he expects to stay with as a pro.

But the rest of his bag is being auctioned. This week he will make a tour of equipment companies in Carlsbad, Calif., visiting TaylorMade, Callaway and Cobra.

DeChambeau’s schedule opened up in October when the NCAA banned the SMU men’s golf team from postseason play in 2016 due to rules violations involving a former coach. Denied the chance to defend his individual title, DeChambeau choose to leave school and focus on gearing up for his pro debut.

Other than Australia, DeChambeau filled his playing schedule at the end of 2015 with better-ball events in California like the Straight Down Fall Classic in San Luis Obispo and the Plantation Pro-Am in Indio, the latter providing him an opportunity to exchange ideas with Phil Mickelson.

“We were just loving the time spent together, one golf geek to another, talking about fun stuff and trying to figure out a couple things on my end from the wedging aspect,” DeChambeau said of his conversation with Mickelson. “He was talking away, and I was listening. It was a lot of fun.”

At the Straight Down, DeChambeau had a locker-room conversation with Gary McCord about his theories that drew an interested audience, including Brandel Chamblee. Whether he’s quoting Homer Kelly’s Golfing Machine, talking about the artist in Einstein or not fearing failure like other great scientists, DeChambeau and his methods don’t come across as madness. Not with his record as an amateur and his potential as a pro.

“You talk to this kid, he’s brilliant,” McCord told me last week. “I tell guys he’s the next game changer. Not because of what he’s doing, but the fact he figured out a process at 15 years of age. He’s smarter than everybody else.”

John Cook isn’t ready to go as far as McCord—not after being around Tiger Woods when Woods was 22—but he was charmed after witnessing DeChambeau shoot 65 at The Plantation.

“I don’t know if he’s going to revolutionize the game, but he’s certainly impressive,” Cook said. “He’s so super intelligent, and he believes so much in what he’s doing. You can’t crack that. It works for him. I saw it live.”