Whether you think Bryson DeChambeau is a mad scientist or simply mad, there is no mistaking his motivation. Last week at the RBC Heritage, before he set out for his first round as a professional, your scribe asked DeChambeau what he would be doing if he wasn’t tying for fourth at Harbour Town and threatening to change the face of the game. The answer was telling. “I would definitely be doing some research in the golf industry with a club manufacturer or doing research for biomechanics, on efficiencies of motion, that sort of stuff,” he said. “I like understanding how the body works and how it can work most efficiently.” If that is a bit too detailed for you, stop reading. DeChambeau is the antithesis of many modern PGA Tour professionals: He’s outgoing, engaging, insightful, thoughtful and, yes, extremely confident with his own abilities and his unique method of playing the game. Some would, and have, used the term cocky to describe DeChambeau, but that’s a wild oversimplification of an exceedingly complex young man. DeChambeau doesn’t just want to win on Tour and contend in majors and represent the United States in whatever team match is on that season’s calendar – the normal check list for newcomers – he wants to change the game. If that seems a bit lofty for your average 22-year-old, he’s actually been on a mission to challenge golf’s dogma since 2011 when he roped a 5-iron from 205 yards right at the pin while playing Dragonfly Golf Club’s second hole. “I turned to Mike [Schy, his swing coach] and said, ‘This could change the game,’” said DeChambeau of that first field test of his 37 1/2-inch 5-iron. “Wouldn’t it make so much sense to a player to keep the same posture every single time no matter the shot?” All of DeChambeau’s irons are the same length, 37 1/2 inches, which is the average length of a 7-iron shaft and, not coincidentally, DeChambeau’s favorite club. “The reason people get hurt is because you’re changing your posture and moving your body at different angles. That’s why they have a favorite club because they are more comfortable at a certain angle,” he patiently explained last week. “If you change the angle you’re not as efficient and eventually your body gives out.” Single-length, single-swing simplicity is the cornerstone of DeChambeau’s philosophy, which was born from “The Golfing Machine,” the 1969 Homer Kelley swing manifesto that is billed as “simple geometry and everyday physics.” “The Golfing Machine” is not an easy read, nor are DeChambeau’s theories easy to digest, but that hasn’t stopped players from Rory McIlroy to Phil Mickelson from taking a peek at his unique clubs. Simply put, curious minds want to know, and to DeChambeau’s credit he’s more than willing to walk anyone with even a passing interest through his swing philosophies. That curiosity has spilled over to the general public in large part thanks to DeChambeau’s tie for 21st at the Masters and his top-5 debut in Hilton Head. According to Cobra Puma Golf CEO Bob Philion, who recently signed DeChambeau to a “long-term” endorsement deal, the “intrigue factor” in the single-length concept was over 90 percent in a recent consumer survey. Although Philion concedes the potential to market and sell single-length iron sets depends largely on DeChambeau’s continued success at the professional level, the public’s initial reaction has been encouraging. “The intrigue factor is off the charts. We’re getting smarter every day,” Philion said. “People are interested and they want to try it. My question is, do they want to buy it? That’s some of the research that we’re doing.” As daunting as cutting a new path into the golf club market may sound, Philion explains that it might be the perfect product to stand out in an extremely crowded market space. “In terms of single-length irons, we look at it as an opportunity. We’re doing a lot of research and homework right now in that space and we’re intrigued with some of the findings,” Philion said. “As difficult as it may be to market single-length, it may be even more challenging to be in a space with variable length where all of our competitors are basically telling the same message. “You see consumers standing in front of that iron wall and they can be bamboozled really quickly with the number of options.” Philion uses his first trip to Dragonfly Golf Club just outside of Fresno, Calif., as an example of DeChambeau’s potential impact on the game. “When I went to visit Mike Schy and see what they were doing up in Fresno, there were 100 kids out there that were thinking he’s the way and they are all trying to do single-length and follow in his footsteps,” Philion said. For Philion and Cobra Puma, DeChambeau was the perfect fit for a company that embraces individuality – different and determined. But the eureka moment came weeks after that first trip to Dragonfly when the two sides met to sign the endorsement contract. “I can honestly say he’s the first player to ever sign a deal left-handed [DeChambeau is right-handed] and backwards,” Philion laughed. What else would one expect from a 22-year-old engineering major who wants to change the game one single-length swing at a time?
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Nicole DeWitt’s single in the bottom of the ninth scored Justine McLean and gave Florida a 3-2 extra-inning win over Auburn on Sunday, sending the defending national champion Gators back into the softball championship series.McLean advanced to second on a wild pitch before DeWitt’s hit off Auburn reliever Marcy Harper.Florida center fielder Kirsti Merritt threw out runners at the plate in the second and fourth innings. Lauren Haeger pitched a complete game for the win.The Gators (58-6) nearly won it in the eighth, but center fielder Morgan Estell threw out Francesca Martinez at home with two outs and the score tied 2-2.Auburn (56-11) earned its first two World Series wins Saturday, but the Tigers left 14 runners on base Sunday.The Gators face Michigan on Monday night as the best-of-three series begins.Florida’s Taylor Fuller (12) is met by her team as she scores in the fourth inning during an NCAA Women’s College World Series softball game against Auburn in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
BALTIMORE — The Orioles appear to be moving closer to restoring their regular left side of the infield with shortstop J.J. Hardy beginning baseball activities in Sarasota.After playing catch from 90 feet over the weekend, the 33-year-old took 25 ground balls on Monday and is taking swings and hitting off a tee as he continues to work his way back from a fractured left foot suffered on May 1. According to manager Buck Showalter, Hardy will not rejoin the club to continue his rehab until he is participating in full baseball activity in Sarasota.The hope is that Hardy could still be ready to be activated from the disabled list later this month, but he would need to complete a minor-league rehab assignment after such a lengthy absence.“It’s more about the player. J.J. knows what it takes to be up here,” said Showalter when asked how long Hardy’s rehab assignment might take. “We’ll trust him with that. I don’t think you’re going to see him go down there and play one game and four at-bats and say, ‘I’m ready.’ He’s going to do some of that in the extended-spring program probably before he goes out [on an assignment].“But I wouldn’t say it’d be quick. I’d like for it to be quick. We miss him.”Two-time Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado has filled in admirably playing his natural shortstop position in Hardy’s absence, but the Orioles have struggled to receive production at third base with defensive-minded players Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish providing below-replacement-level offense and slugger Pedro Alvarez serving as a defensive liability in his six starts at the hot corner.Though coming off the worst season of his major league career in 2015, Hardy was hitting .244 with two home runs, eight RBIs, and a .701 on-base plus slugging percentage in 86 plate appearances this season.Last rehab start for Gallardo?Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will make what the Orioles hope is his final rehab start on Tuesday afternoon at Triple-A Norfolk, putting him in line to potentially return to start the series finale in Toronto on Sunday.Have the woes of the current starting rotation altered how the Orioles evaluate Gallardo’s readiness to return from right shoulder tendinitis?“You mean all he’s got to do is show up and be breathing and he’s in it?” said Showalter, cracking a smile. “I’m just being frank. No, it shouldn’t and I’d like to think it doesn’t. Are you going to base it on performance or how he feels? You hope you get both.“Yovani wants to get back. He’s champing at the bit. If I had a choice between [him] being productive and being healthy tomorrow, I’ll take the healthy part.”Waiting game for JosephA week after Caleb Joseph suffered a testicular injury that required surgery from a foul ball to the groin area, Showalter confirmed the backup catcher would not be ready to return after the minimum 15 days for a DL stint.Joseph will not to resume catching until the four-week mark from when the injury took place on May 30. Showalter said the 29-year-old should be able to take part in all other baseball activities before then, but there understandably will be an adjustment period for Joseph to once again take work behind the plate after sustaining such a gruesome injury.Fortunately for the Orioles, recently-promoted backup Francisco Pena has collected multi-hit games in each of his first two starts since Joseph was placed on the DL.