For a player who thinks like Bryson DeChambeau, one would assume that Harbour Town would be exactly the type of course he could thrive on. So far at the RBC Heritage, that notion has been true, as the 2015 US Amateur winner has rounds of 68 and a career-low seven-under 64 to grab a one-shot lead at 10-under 132.
DeChambeau’s day began with a par-eagle-bogey start on his first three holes and then he followed with three birdies on his next five, including the tricky, dogleg left par-4 eighth that didn’t seem to give him any problems.
“This course just fits my eye, the shaping of the holes and just a couple of the doglegs. I’m able to shape shots. I love the tee shot on eight. Most people are kind of scared. That tee shot is not easy,” said DeChambeau. “For whatever reason this course fits me really nicely, and I was able to play really well and hit my wedges close and make a few putts.”
It’s his third appearance at Harbour Town and his first two came with mixed results, a T-4 in 2016 and a missed cut in 2017. He may have figured the place out on his third try, as he ranks fourth or better in strokes-gained/approach-the-green and tee-to-green, as well as total strokes gained through 36 holes.
“I’m more comfortable on the course, too. Two years is – it’s kind of the time. For me it’s always taken me a lot longer than most, I would think, even though I’m still 24 and doing really well – pretty well on Tour. But at every stage it’s always taken me a couple of years to get comfortable. And I’m finally starting to get a little comfortable out here.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 13, 2018
After a 2017 season that saw him miss 16 cuts, DeChambeau has certainly settled in this year, collecting five top 25s and three top 10s, including a solo second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He credits it to his improvement with the putter.
“Definitely my putting is solidified. No need to change it. It’s worked really well. I won a tournament with it, and finished 2nd, finished 5th, 7th. I played really well this year doing that. I’ve had some tough times but I’ve learned a lot from that.”
One back are Si Woo Kim and Ian Poulter, the latter matching DeChambeau’s 64 and continuing to play well during a stretch where he’s played six consecutive tournaments.
“Six weeks in a row is unusual, kind of forced into that with trying to play my way into the Masters,” said Poulter. “I was committed to play here. It made it six in a row. I will be taking next week off to relax. And then obviously I’m going to play New Orleans with G-Mac (Graeme McDowell), which should be fun. And then I’ll take a week off and play the Players Championship. I need a little bit of rest in and around the next few weeks leading up to a busy summer.”
Kim, the reigning Players champion, carded a six-under 65 despite making a triple-bogey on the par-3 14th, which saw its fair share of big numbers on Friday.
Chesson Hadley, Luke List, Rory Sabbatini and 2011 RBC Heritage winner Brandt Snedeker are two shots off the lead at eight-under 134. World No.1 Dustin Johnson is six back at four-under 138.
Australia’s Cameron Smith is tied 13th at 6-under to be the best-placed Aussie.