|Date: 12-15 November Venue: Augusta National|
|Coverage: Radio and text commentary online with in-play clips. Daily highlights on BBC Two -full details here|
Bryson DeChambeau is toying with the idea of using a 48-inch driver at the Masters this week in a bid to gain even more distance off the tee.
The American arrives at Augusta as the favourite after overpowering Winged Foot to win the US Open in September.
He is the longest driver on the PGA Tour, averaging 344 yards, but hit a shot 403 yards in the air in practice.
DeChambeau said results were “really promising” after testing the new driver which has the longest shaft permitted.
“I am not 100% sure if I will put it in play yet because of the unknown, it is so close to the Masters,” said the 27-year-old who takes a scientific approach to the game and has added around 40lbs in weight as part of his effort to hit the ball further.
“But if it is an improvement on every facet of launch conditions, then I don’t see why not?”
A longer shaft helps generate more clubhead speed at impact and that translates to hitting the ball further. And the closer he can get to greens off the tee, the more control he can have with his approach shots.
The world number six added: “I tested it on Monday for the first time. We have gone through at least three or four iterations of the shaft and this is the most promising one yet.
“I had about four or five miles an hour ball speed increase, I got my swing speed up to 143/144mph on the range, and the dispersion is the same, the spin rate was even down.
“So it looks really promising right now. I did not expect it to work yesterday, I was like ‘this is going to take even more time’, but it did work.”
However, the 27-year-old says whether he can win a first Green Jacket this week will not be solely down to how far he can hit the ball.
“I can hit it as far as I want to, but it comes down to putting and chipping,” said DeChambeau.
“That is one of the things I think sometimes people struggle to see. As much as I gain an advantage off the tee, I still have to chip it well, putt it well and wedge it well, even iron play it well.
“That’s what I did at the US Open. If I don’t putt it well at the US Open, don’t wedge it well, don’t hit my irons close, I don’t win that tournament.”
No player has won the Masters at the first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
Collin Morikawa, who won the US PGA Championship on just his second major appearance in August, and fellow American Matthew Wolff, runner-up in the US Open, are looking to change that.
“I’m not afraid of any course,” said 23-year-old Morikawa, the world number four. “I believe I can dissect a course and figure out what is my best opportunity to shoot a good score.
“Experience never hurts. I wish I had played here 15, 20 times, I wish I had that knowledge. That’s going to grow over the years I keep coming back and I keep playing, but for now I have to feel like I can still compete with these guys.”
Wolff, 21, has climbed to 14th in the rankings after placing in the top five in the past two majors.
“If there was a time, it would be now,” said Wolff of someone emulating Zoeller. “I think the level of golf out here right now is at an all-time high.
“Because of Covid, it’s unfortunate, but since there are no fans here, I think that can definitely change the dynamic of everything.
“Coming down the stretch with a one-shot lead, it’s definitely a little more relaxing without thousands and thousands of fans sitting behind the green watching your every shot.”
England’s Tyrrell Hatton arrives on the back of a successful season, claiming his first PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and also winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
But the 29-year-old is yet to replicate that performance in the majors, missing the cut at the PGA Championship and US Open, with his best finish in three Masters appearances a tie for 44th in 2018.
“For me, 2020 on the golf course has been a very special year,” said Hatton, who suggested he may wear his trademark hoodie if the weather dictates at Augusta. “I think coming into a major, this is the best form that I’ve had.”