The 2021 Players Championship doesn't begin until Thursday, but the games started on Sunday after the final putt dropped at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That's when Palmer champ Bryson DeChambeau hinted that his next move after nearly driving the green on a par 5 last week at Bay Hill might be to drive it up the wrong hole at TPC Sawgrass in this week's Players Championship.
DeChambeau said he might hit it across the lake on No. 18 at Sawgrass off to the left where the 9th hole is. It would give him a better angle into the 18th green and cut some distance off the hole in the way it is historically played. He expounded on that on Tuesday.
"I'll probably give it a try, but it's most likely not going to happen," DeChambeau said. "If there's stands ... there's really no reason to go for it when I could just drive it 100 yards from the green if I get a good wind normally. It's not really that big of an advantage, but taking the water out of play and having an easier second shot, it may be easier, I don't know."
Golf Channel analyst (and former player) Aaron Oberholser walked the course and broke down the shot from DeChambeau's perspective. It did not look like a high-percentage play, but the visuals are interesting, and depending on where the pin is positioned, it could provide an amazing angle into the green.
In the photo below, the orange line is the way the hole is intended to be played, and the pink line is the way Bryson was insinuating he might play it if the opportunity was right.
In short, it was a very DeChambeau thing to suggest. To do something nobody has ever attempted to potentially increase his chances of making birdie by 2% or 4% or whatever the arbitrary number is. Unfortunately for him, the PGA Tour put the clamps on him even attempting the drive by instituting a new internal out of bounds.
In the interest of safety for spectators, volunteers and other personnel, The Players Championship rules committee has installed an internal out of bounds left of the lake for play of hole 18. Similar instances of internal out of bounds for safety purposes have occurred at The Open Championship (hole 9) in 2017, the 2021 Sony Open in Hawaii (hole 13 and hole 18), and most recently, the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (hole 6).
Mission accomplished for the eight-time PGA Tour winner. To him, this is probably more of a thrill than attempting the drive itself. He's both winning and changing the game he seeks to conquer, and he's doing both at the same time with the biggest event of the calendar year to date on deck.