By Kent Gray
He’s the quirkiest man in professional golf, if not all of sports. There’s little doubt he’s the hottest player on the planet currently and best of all, Bryson DeChambeau has just been confirmed to bring the entire, utterly intriguing package back to Dubai for the 30th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Golf’s ‘Mad Scientist’ will return to Emirates Golf Club for the $3.25 million European Tour event from January 24-27 as world No.5 – three seasons after topping the amateur standings in the 2016 Desert Swing tournament on the Majlis.
With world No.1 Brooks Koepka and No.3 Dustin Johnson confirmed to challenge two-time defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, it seemed the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship the week proceeding Dubai had edged the Desert Swing’s star billing stakes.
But Desert Classic tournament director David Spencer has pulled another rabbit out of the hat to complement a Majlis field including Fleetwood and former champions Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Haotong Li.
“Bryson is one of the most exciting young stars of global golf. He visited Dubai as an amateur and was a class act. We’re delighted that he will join us again in 2019 as a pro for our 30th anniversary,” said Spencer who was rewarded for bringing DeChambeau to Dubai as an amateur with a T-18 performance from the American following rounds of 70-69-68-69 for a -12 total, seven shots adrift of eventual champion 2016 Danny Willett.
The 25-year-old Californian has just began his third full, main tour season in the U.S.like he left of last season – by winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open early last month, edging Patrick Cantlay by a shot in Las Vegas to record his fifth PGA Tour title. It came after a breakout 2017-18 campaign in which DeChambeau won Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Ohio and the first two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, The Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championship, en-route to finishing third behind Justin Rose and Tiger Woods in the season standings with a cool $8 million in prize money.
The back-to-back playoff wins were historic in the 12 year history of the FedEx Cup and saw DeChambeau earn one of Jim Furyk’s four wildcard picks for September’s Ryder Cup where he went 0-3, including a 1-down loss to Alex Noren, as the U.S. were hammered 17½ 10-½ by Bjorn’s Europeans.
Prior to turning pro, DeChambeau won the NCAA Division 1 and U.S. Amateur Championship in 2015. He is only the fifth player in history to win both in the same yea, joining Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Ryan Moore.
DeChambeau earned the ‘Mad Scientist moniker partly because of his unique one plane swing and a bag comprising single-length shafts, but more so for his increasingly left-field philosophies on the swing and winning.
His irons and wedges are all 37.5 inches long – the same as a 7 iron – and all have the same lie and bounce angles. Instead of numbers, he stamps the clubs with names; his 60 degree lob wedge is named ‘The King’ after Arnold Palmer and his 6 iron is named ‘Juniper’ after the sixth hole at Augusta.