PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Remember that wide-right opening-salvo tee shot Bryson DeChambeau hit Sunday at Bay Hill? The one that was a half-football field off line? He thought to himself, Uh-oh — this is not going to be a great day.
We’ve all been there, right? You mess up one and mess up most of the next 17. The old this-is-not-going-to-be-a-great-day thing. You hate it.
Well, DeChambeau did it again on Friday, here in the second round of the Players Championship, this glamorous tournament being played in glorious North Florida sunshine on a course that is a stunning tribute to man’s capacity to take nature and turn it into torture-chamber fun.
DeChambeau started on 10, the short (430 yards is short) par-4. He sliced a 3-wood or hybrid right of the rough, right of the cart path and on to a bed of pine needles.
The PGA Tour does not allow mulligans. It does allow do-overs, but then you’re playing 3 off the tee, and that’s no fun.
There he goes again.
He enjoyed 6. Well, maybe not enjoyed.
“Frustration, definitely,” the tenured professor said, describing his first-hole-double-bogey state-of-mind. “You don’t expect to do that the first hole out. Especially [because] I was hitting it pretty good this morning, and then you go out there and you squeeze one right. I wasn’t feeling as comfortable as I should have been feeling. Unfortunately, that’s the way my day started.”
We have been there, brother. We have all been there!
Tiger Woods. For a such a good golfer, it’s amazing how many incredibly poor first drives he has hit over the past 30 years (along with lots and lots of good ones). You get tight. You get nervous. You apply too much meaning to the shot. Plus, people are looking at you.
After that opening hiccup, DeChambeau played the next 17 holes in 63 shots. At the end of the day, he was 6 under par and he’s hugely in contention going into the weekend of golf’s most celebrated March event.
So, how’d he do it? How’d he turn things around?
“You’ve just got to fight for every shot,” he said. “It’s about focusing on the shot at hand.”
Maybe you’ve heard this useful phrase: one shot at a time.
After his uh-oh tee shot Sunday at Bay Hill, DeChambeau went on to win the tournament. After his uh-oh tee shot Friday at the Players, DeChambeau shot a second-round 69.
And what about us mortals, Bryson? When we go wide right on 1, should we take that proffered mulligan? Should we hack it out of the weeds? Should we play 3 off the tee?
“Well, for amateurs, I think you should enjoy the game,” he said. “Take that mulligan. I wish I could.”
Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael.Bamberger@Golf.com