NEW YORK (AFP) – Bryson DeChambeau took some advice from infamous Winged Foot flop Phil Mickelson about irons and wedges that just might help DeChambeau succeed at the US Open where Mickelson failed.
DeChambeau fired a two-under par 68 on Friday (Sept 18), closing with an eagle at the par-five ninth after pitching to six feet, to stand on three-under 137 after 36 holes at Winged Foot.
Mickelson, a record six-time US Open runner-up in the only major he has never won, squandered a golden chance in 2006 at Winged Foot with a double bogey on the 72nd hole.
But the 50-year-old left-hander and five-time major winner passed along some advice to DeChambeau, who is chasing his first major title.
“Phil gave me some great advice,” DeChambeau said.
“He said when he almost won back in 2006, he had the best short game week of his life, so that’s just a testament to showing that you have to have a great wedge game out here.
“I feel like my irons are great, the wedges are better, and short game needs to be worked on just a little bit. But I would say it has been good so far, and that’s what I’m going to hopefully do this weekend.”
Ninth-ranked DeChambeau shared fourth at last month’s PGA Championship, his best major finish, and won July’s Rocket Mortgage Classic for his sixth career US PGA victory.
DeChambeau worked until darkness on Thursday on his wedges, finding them going longer than expected on day one.
“We didn’t practice them as well as I should have leading up to this tournament, but we made that adjustment, and it worked out beautifully for me today,” DeChambeau said.
“If my iron play is great, I feel like I can play from anywhere. I know my driver is going to be going far – sometimes straight, sometimes a little crooked. But if I can hit my irons really well, then I feel like I’ll be good for the rest of the day.”
It was a major reason why DeChambeau was able to follow bogeys with birdies on the next hole four times in his round. The fifth time, it took him two holes to birdie after a bogey.
“It’s important. It keeps your momentum going,” he said.
“You need momentum to keep playing well in a US Open and that’s what I was able to do.”
DeChambeau feels his length off the tee gives him an edge that brings more birdie opportunities than any other player – if he can keep the ball straight enough to find the fairways.
“I feel like there’s so many holes out here that I can take advantage of that some people can’t,” DeChambeau said. “That doesn’t mean that I’m going to win or anything. You’ve still got to execute.
“If I’m hitting the driver far but all over the place, you can’t make birdies from the rough. It’s very difficult. So I still have to work on hitting it straight while hitting it far.”