On a cool Saturday morning, 70 people gathered at Dragonfly Golf Club to learn from the latest hotshot golfer out of the central San Joaquin Valley – reigning NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau.
The 22-year-old former Clovis East High standout – who also recently called a premature end to his college career – shared techniques, fielded questions and welcomed fans to pose for pictures with his two big prizes of 2015: the NCAA individual title (ring included) and the U.S. Amateur’s Havemeyer Trophy.
In June, DeChambeau became the second golfer from Clovis to win the NCAA crown, joining Buchanan alum Kevin Chappell, who won in 2008 while at UCLA. Two months later, DeChambeau won the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields Country Club and became the fifth player to win both in the same year.
The other four: Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore.
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“To bring this trophy back and share it with the central Valley is something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” DeChambeau said. “It certainly is home and something I attribute greatly to my success.”
He displayed his swing, dissecting the movement and mechanics behind it while also passing around his custom-fitted irons that are all cut to 37 1/2 inches.
Personal coach and former caddie Mike Schy was on hand to help carry the discussion.
DeChambeau even got personal, sharing stories about golfing with two-time major winner Jordan Spieth. He told the crowd he could drive the ball farther than his 22-year-old counterpart but admitted Spieth was an “extremely great putter who is 100 times better.”
There were also a few jokes and DeChambeau showed off some tricks, taking a few left-handed swings (he is right-handed) and turning his head toward the crowd for a pair of no-look drives that sailed into the range.
Fans also heard the explanation for DeChambeau wearing his signature Ben Hogan caps during tournaments. DeChambeau said he first saw a red Hogan at a Northern California Golf Association junior tournament at Poppy Ridge Golf Course. He bought it that morning and won the tournament. He keeps wearing, he said, as an homage “to the gentlemen of the game.”
Saturday’s event also served as a way for DeChambeau to give something back to the next wave of junior golfers.
“Practice hard and love the game,” he told youngsters as they huddled around for photos.
DeChambeau will be in Fresno until the end of the week, then sets off for South America for the Argentine Open on Nov. 5-8. Three weeks later, he’ll go down under for the Australian Open on Nov. 26-29.
“I’m not 100 percent ready to go right now, but in a couple weeks, I’ll be ready,” he said. “I’ll be the best when I get there.”
DeChambeau was asked to play the Masters Course at Augusta National Golf Club on Monday, but will instead play there in December.
His plan is to retain his amateur status through next year, with the U.S. Amateur title earning him exemptions into the first three majors. If DeChambeau chose to turn pro, he would lose those free entries.
Earlier this month, DeChambeau announced his departure from Southern Methodist University and the men’s golf program there after the NCAA issued sanctions for alleged violations under former coach Josh Gregory. The penalties would have barred DeChambeau from defending his individual national title.