'Complexity creates simplicity': Bryson DeChambeau's grind at the U.S. Open

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SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 17:  Bryson DeChambeau is silhouetted as he hits balls at night on the practice range after play following the first round of the 121st U.S. Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course on June 17, 2021 in La Jolla, San Diego, California. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Bryson DeChambeau hits balls at night on the practice range after play following the first round of the 121st U.S. Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course on June 17, 2021 in La Jolla, San Diego, California. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

TORREY PINES, Calif. — At 2:44 p.m. Thursday, Bryson DeChambeau teed off to defend his U.S. Open championship. Some five hours later, he walked off the South Course at Torrey Pines sitting at 2-over par, six strokes back of the lead.

By 8:30 p.m., he was back on the driving range, the lone golfer hitting balls into the night, trying to figure out why he couldn’t keep the ball straight off his club.

Around 9:30 p.m., frustrated he hadn’t found what he was looking for, he finally called it quits.

At some point in the middle of the night, it hit him — keep “the right wrist bent for a lot longer through impact.”

At 5:45 a.m. Friday morning, his alarm went off.

At 7:29 a.m., he stepped onto the first tee to start his second round.

Around 12:30 p.m, he walked off having carded a four-birdie, four-bogey, one-eagle 69.

He’d gained one shot on the leader.

Maniacal, maybe, but it’s what’s gotten DeChambeau here — the defending U.S. Open champ, fifth-ranked golfer in the world and certainly the sport’s most intriguing this side of Tiger Woods.

If there’s a problem in his game, he’ll fix it through work.

If there’s a physical edge to be gained, he’ll gain it through work.

If there’s a mental edge to be found, he’ll find it through work.

If there’s a technological edge to be had, he’ll figure it out through … work.

Work, work, work.

His approach may rub the likes of Brooks Koepka the wrong way, but if DeChambeau is going down, it won’t be because he’s underprepared.

“I couldn't figure it out for an hour and a half last night, an hour last night, and going back and just sitting down, eating dinner and just thinking about it, thinking about it,” he explained. “I literally won't talk to anybody for like an hour, just thinking, thinking, thinking, and sure enough, I went to bed and I found a little something that worked for my driver. It didn't work for my irons, so hopefully going to fix that this afternoon.”

Never stop working to try to simplify the game: Drive it far, give yourself a shorter shot to the green, which in theory will give you a shorter putt for birdie.

“One hundred percent,” he said.

“Complexity creates simplicity in the end,” he explained. “If you try and make it simple in the beginning, there's a lot of variables you're trying to understand, and it can get pretty messy down the road if you try and make it too simple in the beginning.

“So for me, this isn't a mad scientist, and it's more about trying to understand as many variables beforehand, and then when I go out I'm painting a picture, I'm trying to be an artist and sense and feel and get a good gauge of like the wind and what's going on, and I try and mold the science a little bit with it, but mainly an art for me.”

Having spent 10 minutes answering questions following his round, DeChambeau was finally free to go. He walked directly to the driving range, this time under daylight, to continue working on those irons.

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