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Bryson not setting goals ahead of major debut as pro

MAKING his debut as a professional in a major is a new journey for the eccentric Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open this week.

HE has already played two majors as an amateur and even earned low amateur honours at this year’s US Masters, but playing as a professional in the 2016 US Open is a new journey for the eccentric Bryson DeChambeau. 

For the rookie pro, this week isn't about winning just yet, it's about having a game plan for the course - hitting fairways and greens.

Tying for 21st at Augusta National Golf Club to end your amateur career is nothing to sneeze at, even if DeChambeau was in serious contention after 35 holes. 

However, this week at Oakmont Country Club will be a new test, not just the golf course but the need for strong mental aptitude to grind it out when there is far more expectation placed on you since missing the cut at Chambers Bay last year.

“The biggest thing that’s changed [since turning pro in April after the US Masters] has been learning how to be patient,” DeChambeau told Golf Link after hitting balls with coach Mike Schy at Oakmont’s driving range.

“When you get out here you want to win, you want to get your card you want to do all those things. But this is a journey, it’s not gonna be completed in one year, I hope not at least.”

“This is something thats gonna take a long time. So I think that, looking at it from that perspective and sitting back from it and going “alright, this is a long journey, don’t rush yourself and don’t try and get flustered over the small, simple things. 

“So, I think that’s been the biggest adjustment that I’ve had to make and I’m getting better at it each and every week.”

DeChambeau has developed a huge global fan base because of his single length shafts and one-plane swing, but he has always seemed to back it up on course as well.

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As an amateur last year he became just the fifth player to win the NCAA and US Amateur titles in the same year and, along with his terrific performance at Augusta, he finished tied for fourth at the Heritage Classic in April when he made his tournament debut as a pro.

Even though he doesn’t yet have status on the PGA Tour, he is already a global name in golf and DeChambeau has taken the support from the public in his stride.

Even at Oakmont where the best players and biggest stars in the game are teeing it up, the Californian gets mobbed by spectators when he walks the course and practise facilities. 

“A lot of buzz, I guess, It’s nice! I’m completely fine with it,” DeChambeau said with a smile.

“I love hanging out and talking to people and signing some autographs. It’s always fun to interact with the fans because they’re the ones who make this a special event.

“It’s not just the USGA. They obviously do an incredible job but its the patrons, it's the people out here who are watching that are making this golf tournament what it is.” 

His focus, though, is still on the major championship which begins on Thursday and he applied his scientific and analytical mind to the tournament. 

“I love the golf course, it’s a ball strikers paradise,” DeChambeau said.

“Most people are talking about the greens, I’m talking about tee shots. The guys who hit the most fairways and the most greens are gonna win this golf tournament. Putting - it’s a two putt golf course. 

“The person who limits their three putts, hits the fairways, hits the greens is gonna win the event.”

Earlier in the day, fellow American Phil Mickelson sat in a press conference and told the media tee shots will be the most important factor for him this week - not his world-class short game.

“Phil’s a very bright, intelligent guy and I definitely got a little tips from him and I’m glad he’s saying the same thing,” DeChambeau said when told of Phil’s course management plan this week.

“[Phil and Jason Day] have got great short games, but unfortunately here the penalties are so brutal. I don’t think it’s even gonna matter. It’s literally taking it out of play. 

“Even if you weren’t short sided you’re still not guaranteed getting up and down. You have to get up and down and get lucky. It’s probably going to be a 25 per cent chance on average that people are going to get up and down if they miss the green.”

As is tradition with the the USGA and the US Open, the defending champion and reigning US Amateur and British Open champions are group together for the first two rounds.

But when DeChambeau turned pro two months ago, he forfeited the chance to play in both the US and British Opens this year after qualifying by winning the US Amateur last year. 

However, he said he redeemed himself by recently earning a spot in this week's field at Oakmont after finishing second at sectional qualifying in Columbus, Ohio.

Even though the path to the championship was altered, the USGA still kept to tradition and paired him with defending champ Spieth and 2015 British Open winner Zach Johnson.

“I was pretty impressed that the USGA did that,” DeChambeau said. “I’m very pleased that they put me in a nice group. Especially with guys that are really solid golfers and people. 

“Jordan’s an incredible person and ambassador for the game. Zach’s an incredible ambassador for the game, so I’m glad to be by their side.”

As for his goals this week?

“Don’t set goals,” DeChambeau confirmed. “In relation to winning, any of that. I set goals upon the basis of me hitting fairways. If I’m able to to hit 11 to 13 fairways a round, I’ll be happy with that.”

DeChambeau, Spieth and Johnson will tee off from the 10th tee on Thursday at 8:35am (local Pittsburgh time). 

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