PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – There isn’t as much room for creative expression this week at TPC Sawgrass, but Bryson DeChambeau said he’ll at least explore an alternate route to playing the 18th hole.
After his victory Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, DeChambeau teased the idea of going down the adjacent ninth hole instead of taking on the 18th hole as it’s designed, with the dogleg left around the pond. DeChambeau said that going left, down the ninth hole instead, would better open up the green for his approach shot.
Though he hasn’t yet played a practice round, DeChambeau said he’ll likely play the finishing hole normally.
“I’ll probably give it a try (going down the ninth hole in a practice round), but it’s most likely not going to happen,” DeChambeau told reporters Tuesday at The Players. “I haven’t seen it yet, but if there’s stands there there’s no reason to go for it, when I could just drive it 100 yards from the green if I get a good wind normally. It’s not really that big of an advantage, but taking the water out of play and having an easier second shot, it may be easier, I don’t know.”
The wind during tournament week is expected to be out of the east, which for a right-hander is in a right-to-left direction. DeChambeau primarily plays a draw off the tee, which would bring the water more into play. He also said that he could simply hit a 4-iron off the tee, likely leaving him a 7- or 8-iron into a well-protected green.
The route to the left isn’t a slam-dunk option, however. After a 325-yard drive, there’s only a small, flat landing area to fit the tee shot. Any pushed drive on that line would again bring the pond into play. Anything left will likely wind up on a steep side slope and in thick rough right of the ninth fairway. Go farther left than that, and a large tree would obstruct his path to the green. The hospitality stands that DeChambeau mentioned are well ahead, beginning about 50 yards short of the green. If they are in his line of sight, he’d be entitled to free relief.