Bryson DeChambeau. LIV Golf

Paul Casey was on the golf course back home in Arizona just over a week ago. His cell phone rang. It was his Crushers captain, Bryson DeChambeau.

Casey answered. DeChambeau isn’t much for chit-chat. The conversation immediately focused on the new driver in the captain’s bag, from a company called Krank Golf that had made its mark on the competitive long-distance circuit but was also producing a pro model that conformed to USGA specs and seemed perfect for the impressive ball speed recorded by one of pro golf’s longest hitters.

“It’s amazing,” DeChambeau told his teammate.

Casey, who at age 46 is 17 years older and perhaps less prone to overzealous exclamations about the latest hot equipment, simply thought: “Oh, here we go.”

A few days later, the Crushers were at The Old White course in West Virginia for LIV Golf Greenbrier. It was after the first round, and the team’s scores were not particularly impressive. They were ninth on the leaderboard, with DeChambeau posting a two-under 68 that left him tied for 22nd individually, seven shots behind leader Matt Wolff.

And yet, DeChambeau seemed unusually upbeat about his play. Or as Casey described: “Super-excited. I’ve never seen anybody so pumped to shoot two-under when the leader was nine-under.”

Thirty-six historic holes later, everything came into focus.

DeChambeau fired a nine-under 61 in Saturday’s second round that tied the LIV Golf-record low and moved him just a shot off the 36-hole lead shared by the 24-year-old Wolff and the even-younger 21-year-old David Puig. Asked afterward about his new driver — equipment junkies are fascinated about any change in his bag — he declared that “it’s probably performed the best I’ve ever had in the past five years in professional golf”.

That round ended just after 5.30pm in West Virginia. Less than 16 hours later, DeChambeau teed off to begin his final 18 holes, striping a drive down the middle of the fairway on No 1. “Light the candle,” yelled one fan as the ball sailed toward the Appalachian Mountains that surround the Greenbrier Resort. He did. Six birdies in his first seven holes.

At that point, a low number crossed his mind. It wasn’t 59. Or even 58. It was 54, golf’s presumptive perfect score. At LIV Golf’s inaugural event in London last year, it was famously declared on the victory stage that a round of 54 would be rewarded with a $54 million bonus. Considering that The Guinness Book of World Records lists 55 as the lowest round ever shot, the odds seemed impossible, the reality unthinkable — except for that brief moment as he walked to the par-3 eighth, knowing he had two eagle opportunities on the back nine.

“I keep going at this pace,” he thought, “it could be dangerous.”

The danger quickly vanished as he bogeyed the eighth, unable to get up-and-down after missing the green. But the pursuit of red numbers resumed. He bounced back with birdies on his next two holes, then another at the par-5 12th. Three consecutive birdies starting at the 15th finally provided separation from his closest pursuers, mainly the pesky Mito Pereira, who supplied enough pressure to keep DeChambeau competitively engaged.

It was now early afternoon. DeChambeau stood over a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th. The rain that had been forecast, prompting a change in start times, was now falling. With victory secured, he was at that moment putting for history. He was putting for 58 — although his primary objective was just to avoid a knee-knocker for 59.

DeChambeau starts his daily putting practice routine with a 40-foot putt just to loosen up. He makes them on occasion. When he stroked this one on Sunday, he had a good feeling. The line was perfect. Three-quarters of the way to the hole, it dawned on him what was about to happen. His 13th birdie of a most remarkable performance.

“Oh, my gosh, this isn’t going to go in, is it?” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘This is for 58, this is for 58, this is for 58.

“And then I explode.”

When the ball dropped, he leapt into the air, clenched his fists, and began receiving congratulations for the best round in LIV Golf’s young history (18 events) and just the fourth 58 on an elite professional tour. Casey and fellow Crusher Charles Howell III sprayed him with champagne —Anirban Lahiri arrived later, having finished his round on the other side of the course.

Caddie Greg Bodine might’ve been the only person unaware of the accomplishment. So intent of keeping his player in the moment, Bodine had apparently followed the same blinders-on approach.

“What did you shoot?” Bodine asked.

Responded DeChambeau: “58.”

“What?” Bodine said.

DeChambeau explained later: “He didn’t really even know. It was quite a funny exchange afterwards.”

Then DeChambeau added a line with even more significance: “Probably the greatest moment in my golf career.”

Considering he’s won 11 pro tournaments, including the 2020 US Open, it’s a revealing admission. But factor in all he’s been through since his last pro win in March of 2021.

Health issues. Weight fluctuation due to packing on (then taking off) muscle. The career-changing decision to join LIV Golf. Then the biggest blow, the death of his father Jon last November. Life-altering events, all of them. And remember, he’s still just 29 years old.

Yet he persevered. His on-course results earlier this year might have been cause for dejection, but he used them as motivation to work harder, improve, search for solutions. He spent endless hours on the range. It’s easy to think the Mad Scientist wants to outsmart others, but in reality, he simply wanted to outwork them.

His last few starts offered encouraging signs. A tie for fourth at the PGA Championship in May, his best major result since his US Open win. Then a runner-up at LIV Golf Andalucía, when it took a Talor Gooch birdie on the final hole to avoid a playoff. Despite the disappointment, he called winning a “process”, confident he was getting closer.

It finally arrived, a 61-58 on the weekend at Greenbrier. A stripe show off the tee. Knocking ’em close with his irons. Converting almost all those opportunities (he led the field by needing just 23 putts Sunday). Two birdie attempts each came an inch short of dropping. He was, in essence, two inches away from shooting 56.

It wasn’t just a win, but a statement.

“He just shot 21-under the last two days. When the hell did that happen last?” said Lahiri, shock still evident on his face. “Ridiculous.”

“So proud of him,” added Howell. “He’s been playing good the last month or so, had great results. This has been coming.”

Said Casey: “The golf we saw him play at Winged Foot, it hasn’t been there the last couple of years. Not at his level, if you know what I mean. But since Spain, it’s been rock-star golf.”

Even so … 58? With a new driver and 5-wood? With a putting adjustment just before Greenbrier to close his shoulders and provide a better sight line?

Players tinker all the time. Improvements, if there are any, aren’t usually manifested overnight. Or maybe they are.

“I think that’s kind of how it happens in golf,” DeChambeau said. “For some reason it just clicks. It’s one round. It’s one shot. It’s one putt or something that just allows yourself to go, I’ve got it, and then you get right back on that train.”

Speaking of trains, the White Sulphur Springs Amtrak station is just across the street from the Greenbrier. But with the next LIV Golf event set for this week at Bedminster, a leisurely trip along the tracks isn’t exactly the most efficient mode of transportation.

So DeChambeau celebrated his historic round by boarding a plane on Sunday afternoon and flying to New Jersey. He wasn’t sure of his celebration plans but insisted he would “have a lot of fun”.

Less than six hours after that 40-foot putt dropped, he was in a hotel gym 400 miles away, working out. His definition of fun may not meet yours.

Maybe shooting 58 doesn’t require a new driver. Or a putting change. Or the bumpy roads and heartaches that life throws at all of us, building character, testing our commitment. Maybe it simply requires a good old-fashioned work ethic.

Bryson DeChambeau made history on Sunday at the Greenbrier. Better get accustomed to more of that. He doesn’t turn 30 until next month.