English Tour pro Matthew Fitzpatrick hits his drives roughly 300 yards on average, which is pretty impressive considering his size — 5’5″ and 155 lbs. What isn’t impressive, at least in his opinion, is what Bryson DeChambeau has been doing.
Fitzpatrick, who contended at last week’s BMW PGA Championship before a third-round 76 knocked him down the leaderboard, didn’t hold back after a second-round 65 tied him for the halfway lead when asked about the direction the game is headed as led by DeChambeau.
“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way in my opinion,” Fitzpatrick said. “I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a biomechanist, and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact. I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that. But the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill. He’s just taking the skill out of it in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.
“Winged Foot, the fairways were tight as hell, and I drove it brilliantly, and I actually played pretty well, and I’m miles behind. He’s in the rough and miles up and he’s just hitting wedges everywhere. It just makes a bit of a mockery of it I think.
“I just looked at Shot Tracker yesterday, some of the places he hit it,” Fitzpatrick continued. “And he’s cutting corners — when he’s on, there’s no point, is there. There’s no point. It doesn’t matter if I play my best, he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee, and you know, the only thing I can compete with him is putting, and that’s just ridiculous.”
Half a world away, DeChambeau was bombing it once again, he too contending thanks in large part to his added distance — he was hitting his drives 362.9 yards on average — before finishing in a tie for eighth.
When asked about Fitzpatrick’s comments, DeChambeau said he took it as a compliment.
“I appreciate that comment,” he said. “It’s a compliment to me honestly. A year ago I wasn’t hitting in anywhere near as far as I am today. It took a lot of work, a lot of hours to work through the night to figure out a lot of this stuff. I would say it actually takes more skill to do what I’m doing, and albeit I may have — my fairway percentages are a little bit down, I’m still believe I’m hitting it straighter than what I was last year with the distances that I was hitting back then.
“I feel like I’ve started to go down a path that’s allowed me to have an advantage over everyone, and I think that is a skillset when you look at it. For me out there today, I was still able to hit a lot of fairways at 360 yards. That’s tough to do with drivers. So from my perspective, I think it takes a little bit more skill to do what I’m doing, and that’s why there are only a few people doing it out here.
“I would love to have a conversation with him about it and say, ‘Hey man, I would love to help out. Why couldn’t you do it, too?'” he continued. “You see Rory and DJ doing the same thing, too. They’re seeing that distinct advantage, and I feel like it’s great for the game of golf.
“I don’t think it takes less skill. I’m still putting it great; still wedging it mediocre, the same, maybe a little bit better. It shows out here that I’m still hitting fairways. Yeah, I do hit a couple errant shots like on 9 today, but I do hit a lot of fairways, I still hit great irons, and I make a lot putts. I still think there is a lot of the skill in that.”