ORLANDO, Fla. — Bryson DeChambeau has relished the opportunity to try to drive the green at the Bay Hill Club’s par-5 sixth hole and celebrated as if he had done so Saturday during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
DeChambeau’s drive, which cut across a huge lake, ended up 50 yards to the right of the green but traveled 370 yards and rolled through the fairway and into the rough. The hole measures 555 yards, and no player in the field has hit his tee shot that close to the green.
He ended up hitting a wedge shot from the rough to the front of the green and then two-putting for an easy birdie from about 35 feet.
“I felt like a kid again, for sure. It was exciting,” DeChambeau said after a 68 left him one shot behind 54-hole leader Lee Westwood. “Especially when you pull it off. It was almost like winning a tournament. I got the same chills and feeling when I saw it clear and there was no splash. I gave the fans what they wanted.”
DeChambeau, the reigning U.S. Open champion whose well-known eating and fitness regime over the past 18 months has seen him put on muscle and more than 40 pounds, has emerged as the PGA Tour’s leading driver. Last year he led with an average of more than 322 yards per drive.
In order to hit the green from the tee on Saturday, DeChambeau said he would have needed to carry his drive 335 yards, which he did. He shied away from going directly at the green because of the wind.
DeChambeau made a couple of attempts during Wednesday’s pro-am that came up short because of the wind. That prompted him to take a more conservative route during the first two rounds, eliciting some playful boos. He has birdied the hole in two of the three rounds.
The encouragement from the spectators who were behind the tee spurred DeChambeau, he said.
“For the most part that’s a shot that I know I can do and I was able to accomplish that,” he said. “I would have done it without the fans, but the fans definitely egged me on a little bit and it was fun to give them what they wanted.”