ORLANDO, Fla. – Alas, we’ll have to wait another day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard to see if the PGA TOUR’s heralded carnival barker and Sultan of Long Ball can take one herculean swing with the sledge hammer and make the bell ring.
By that, we are talking about mighty Bryson DeChambeau and his quest to drive the green at the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, a double-bender that wraps left around a massive lake and measured in at 528 yards on Thursday. As the crow flies – or in this case, as DeChambeau’s Bridgestone golf ball flies – the required carry from tee to green is roughly 340 or so yards. Miss short, or miss left, as DeChambeau did in a pro-am round Wednesday, and you are reloading on the tee. John Daly made 18 on the hole once (though he hit only one driver, then dropped and “Tin Cupped” five 3-woods that failed to clear the lake).
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There was high anticipation for DeChambeau to give it a go when he got to No. 6 on Thursday. He knew it, too. On his way to posting a fine 5-under 67, DeChambeau first decided to have a little fun. Alongside his caddie Tim Tucker, he stood next to his bag and playfully reached right past the driver cover to pull out a “lesser” club. The moans were audible. DeChambeau eventually would hit the driver, but he took a far more conservative line off the tee, one mortals might take – at least those who can hit it 309 yards, as he did. He still reached the green in two shots, two-putted from 32 feet and walked away with birdie.
“The crowds were great with it,” DeChambeau said. “I pulled out an iron as a joke off the tee box. For me, it (the wind) was just too much off of the right and more into the wind than anything. With the driver that I’m using right now it’s a heavier head, and so I can’t get the speeds that I’m trying to obtain on the golf course out here.”
DeChambeau is carrying a driver this week that gives him a little more control (a spin rate around 3,000 rpms) than the one he had been using, which he can belt a little longer (averaging closer to 2,000 rpms of spin). As always though, there is yet another driver that is being constructed in the laboratory.
Rory McIlroy might have the horsepower to give it a go at the sixth, but when asked, he shut down the thought immediately. “No chance,” McIlroy said. As for DeChambeau, don’t give up on him or his quest, especially if he gets a favorable wind.
“If it’s more downwind,” he said, “I’ll be able to do it tomorrow, hopefully, or some time during the weekend.”
Step right up, and see the greatest show in town.