Bryson DeChambeau has been a popular target of slow play criticism. On Thursday at Muirfield Village, the 25-year-old fired back.
The defending Memorial champ, playing alongside Tiger Woods and Justin Rose in Round 1, was put on the clock when making the turn (the group began its round on the back). Then on the fifth hole, DeChambeau was given an individual bad time for taking too long to hit his second shot into the par 5. Though that did not earn a punishment, one more infraction would have led to a one-stroke penalty.
“He came up to me and told me I had a bad time. And I was like, do you realize I was deciding between laying up and going for it?” DeChambeau told the Golf Channel's Will Gray. “And we’ve had struggles the past three holes in a row, hazards and making bogeys and all that. Was that not factored in? ‘Well, it’s just 40 seconds, it is what it is.’ Well, I don’t agree with that.”
This is not the first time this season DeChambeau's play has come under the spotlight. A number of players, including Brooks Koepka, took issue with DeChambeau's methodical pre-shot routine at the Dubai Desert Classic, which DeChambeau won.
For his part, DeChambeau doesn't think the censure is warranted.
“It’s a bit unfair when you’ve got someone that’s behind you, let’s say, and they’re slower, but they’re quicker through their process," DeChambeau said to Golf Channel. "I get up there in the middle of the fairway and I have to wait for them to go, and then I have only my 40 seconds, which is what I’m trying to do everything under. People call me slow. I call myself quick with the stuff I do. … A lot of guys out here, they just see it and they hit it. And for me I don’t want to do that because I feel like there’s other variables I get hurt on.”
On the prolonged approach in question, DeChambeau's second shot at the fifth barley cleared the greenside water, and he got up-and-down for a birdie. However, he doubled the ensuing sixth, and finished with a two-over 74. A score nine shots behind Ryan Moore, who had the best performance in the morning wave with a seven-under 65.
In DeChambeau's estimation, the tour should take into account the time it takes a player to reach their ball just as much as the pre-shot deliberation.
“The time to hurry is in between shots. It’s not over the shot,” DeChambeau said. “It’s timing how people walk. You have to add that to the equation. If you’ve got somebody walking slow and they get up to the shot and take their 20 seconds, what’s the aggregate time for them to hit that shot in between shots? That’s what really matters. It’s not the shot at hand.”
DeChambeau and company were at least a hole behind the supergroup of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for most of the round. According to Woods, that position didn't fall solely on DeChambeau's shoulders.
“It’s one of those things where it’s a group effort to try to get back in position,” Woods said after an opening-round 70. “The group ahead of us, JT doesn’t take a lot of time, Rory plays quick, and Jordan was 7 under through 13 holes. So they’re obviously playing fast, and we were obviously not.”