While Bethpage Black, site of this week’s 101st PGA Championship, has roundly been praised as a tough but fair test, one top-10 player in the world doesn’t think the Long Island layout is identifying the best players.
Bryson DeChambeau shot rounds of 72-74 to miss the cut on Friday, but following his first round on Thursday ,the five-time PGA Tour winner vented his frustrations to GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray.
“If you really want to prove who the best champion is, it’s not a long-drive contest. That’s why they have long-drive contests out here,” DeChambeau said. “It’s about precision. So when you start making it really tight, I get the tight part. But when you start lengthening it to the amounts that they’ve been lengthening it to, I just personally think that it’s a mess-up.”
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Bethpage Black is playing as a 7,400-yard par-70, making the course long even by Tour standards. However, DeChambeau, who ranks 44th this season in driving distance at 301.3 yards, even faced long irons and hybrids into the elevated greens at Bethpage.
Speaking further, DeChambeau said that length isn’t a required skill to put on a great major championship, pointing in particular to Merion Country Club, which hosted the 2013 U.S. Open, and Augusta National, the home of the Masters, as fair and well set-up tests of golf.
“That tests the best ball-striker. That’s what majors are supposed to be about. It’s not supposed to be a driving contest,” he said. “You just can’t make golf courses that long with guys on the lower end of the stick driving it 275, 280, 290 and then hitting hybrids into greens.”