Bryson DeChambeau’s first round of pin-in putting on Thursday was an inarguable success. The 25-year-old led the Tournament of Champions field in putting and holed a number of birdies with the flagstick firmly in its place. But DeChambeau made it clear in post-round remarks that his choice to keep the pin in or not is still very much in a testing phase.
“It’s so situational and I don’t know when it’s actually going to hurt me, if it is going to hurt me,” he said. “So that’s why I have to understand that, when it does hurt me I’ll know and I won’t do it anymore. But as of right now it seems like it’s a pretty nice benefit every once in a while.”
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He cited two specific examples: at No. 14 and No. 16 on Thursday.
“At 14, I kind of pushed it a little bit and it went in the right side, and if I hit it a little harder it may lip out, but instead it hit the flag and went in easily,” he said. “On 16 today, where it’s kind of blowing downwind, five percent slope, straight downhill, you want that pin to help. So that’s what I kind of did and utilized it to my advantage.”
DeChambeau gained 3.7 strokes on the field with the flatstick on Thursday and sat T6 after his four-under 69. But he also remains open to the idea that there are times when it makes more sense to leave the pin out, whether for strategy, courtesy or convenience.
“People make it too complicated,” he said unironically, echoing an accusation often lobbed in his direction. “It’s totally situational, still liquid, I’m still learning, under competition, when it’s the right thing to do. Look, I’m going to be courteous to the player I’m playing with as well, I’m not going to try and be, “Oh, I need to put it back in every time. I’m not going to be one of those guys, that’s not me. I’m trying to be courteous to all the players out here and respectful. So that’s my opinion on it, my thought on it, and it’s been a help so far.”