A new era? DeChambeau's U.S. Open triumph puts field on notice

(Reuters) - As the golf world turns its gaze from Winged Foot Golf Club to the year’s final major at Augusta National in November, questions remain over just how much Bryson DeChambeau’s hard-charging U.S. Open win could shift the sport’s landscape.

Sep 20, 2020; Mamaroneck, New York, USA; Bryson DeChambeau poses and celebrates with the trophy after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club - West. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

With an average drive of 325.6 yards in Mamaroneck, New York -- the furthest of any U.S. Open champion in four decades, according to data compiled here by 15th Club content head Justin Ray for the United States Golf Association (USGA) -- DeChambeau showed he could win by saving his precision for the greens.

Plenty of golfers struggled with the wickedly narrow fairways at Winged Foot Golf Club, with competitors hitting them less than 40% of the time, a record low, according to the USGA data, and DeChambeau was no exception.

But where others struggled, the 27-year-old American saw opportunity, because although he hit just 23 of 56 fairways DeChambeau still won the title by six strokes.

The great Jack Nicklaus wrote on Twitter that DeChambeau has “always approached game differently.”

“For 143 golfers, Winged Foot played as expected. But @b_dechambeau played different one,” said the 18-time major winner. “Overpowered course but never let moment overwhelm him. Showed patience, poise.”

The triumph was no doubt validation for DeChambeau, who has famously tinkered with virtually every aspect of his game and returned from the PGA Tour hiatus with some 30 or more pounds of muscle packed on to add velocity to his drive.

Xander Schauffele, who finished the tournament fifth at four-over par, told reporters the power could see DeChambeau clean up trophies in the future.

“All the greats hit it pretty far for the most part. It’s no longer sort of a touchy-feely game,” he said.

“Revolutionise? Maybe he’s just exposing our game in terms of, if he keeps hitting it further and further, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to win many more U.S. Opens.”

If the sport tries to put a cap on that power - and those potential future wins - DeChambeau's coach Mike Schy told the BBC here that American would still find a way to win.

“Try to make it tough for Bryson and I’m telling you he will figure out how to beat you,” said Schy.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris