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Other than tallying scorecards and counting oversized checks, professional golfers don't need to be Good Will Hunting-smart at math.
Bryson DeChambeau, the winner of this year's U.S. Open and front-runner to win the Masters, is changing that.
27-year-old DeChambeau does not subscribe to golf's centuries-old norms. A physics major at SMU - DeChambeau takes an analytics-heavy and somewhat irreverent approach to the game.
Many golfers will throttle back their power in the interest of hitting the fairway off the tee.
After running the numbers with an advisor from Columbia Business School, DeChambeau determined that a Happy Gilmore approach to tee shots would give him a statistical advantage:
- DeChambeau tacked on a beefy 40 pounds this off-season and now looks more like an NFL linebacker than a golfer.
- The extra tonnage helped him boost his average driving distance to 344 yards-beating the tour average by nearly 50 yards.
Cutting Corners: DeChambeau's power allows him to take an unconventional approach on the course. Earlier this year, DeChambeau said his plan at the Masters was to play the 13th hole by hitting his ball onto the 14th fairway.
According to peers, he spends an "absurd" amount of time studying his putts. And unlike other golfers, DeChambeau uses irons that are all the same length to improve consistency.
The Results: In September DeChambeau dominated the field at the U.S. Open to claim his first major. Now he's the favorite to take home the green jacket at the Masters.
Stats Don't Lie
Numbers have always mattered in business. But ever since Billy Beane's "Moneyball" performance with the Oakland A's, big data has become important for the business of sports:
- The NFL captures "Next Gen Stats" at every stadium with RFID tags in shoulder pads, pylons and the ball. Stats like max speed and total time on the field allow franchises a deep evaluation of player talent.
- You may have noticed commentators sound smarter these days-they have finger-tip access to a growing library of stats and tidbits to add color and predictions to play-by-play action.
The Takeaway: Some worry that sports are losing their charm. Others say "whatever it takes to win."