Was Jack Nicklaus Bryson DeChambeau before Bryson DeChambeau?

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DUBLIN, Ohio – In the first in-person press conference on the PGA Tour since the pandemic halted play last year, Jack Nicklaus covered a range of topics Tuesday at Muirfield Village, including Bryson DeChambeau and his ongoing attempt to transform the game.

“DeChambeau 40 years earlier? That was your question,” Nicklaus laughed when DeChambeau was mentioned.

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Although it was a different era with vastly different thresholds, Nicklaus’ game was very much cut from the DeChambeau mold of longer drives and increasing returns.

“Bryson figured out that if he was going to miss, let’s say he’s going to miss 30 percent of the fairways and he’s going to be playing 7-iron out of the rough, If he hit it 30 yards further, and missed 30 percent of the fairways, he’s going to hit wedge out of the rough,” Nicklaus said. “He figured out that he would be better off with a wedge.”

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Nicklaus, who ranked among the Tour’s longest players in his prime, didn’t go through the same type of physical transformation as DeChambeau and modern equipment has also changed how the game is played, but the essential tenet of more speed and strength is timeless.

“I pretty much did that naturally. I had tree trunks for legs and so it allowed me to really just drive through any rough,” he said.