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The Return of OP ED Steve

By Op Ed Steve

Bryson DeChambeau. The name used to evoke images of protein shakes, scientific club optimization, floating golf balls and a driving distance that could launch a Tesla. But lately, there's a curious shift in the Brysonian breeze. Is this a mea culpa mulligan, or a meticulously calculated PR approach designed to dupe the global golf gallery?

DeChambeau's past relationship with the media has been about as smooth as a sand trap filled with legos. His singular focus on distance, the occasional rules kerfuffle, the occasional rope kerfuffle and, of course, Augusta playing as a par 67, painted a picture of a brilliant golfer with the emotional intelligence of a 3-D printer.

However, recent times have seen a DeChambeau seemingly downloaded from a focus group gone rogue. Gone are the sullen interviews, replaced by a carefully curated dose of self-deprecating humor and folksy charm. His YouTube channel features him, well, being Bryson, but with a chummy veneer thicker than his layer of pre-round sunscreen.

This calculated charm offensive is about as subtle as a neon Bryson bobblehead on the 18th green. There are interviews where he name-drops golf legends with the frequency of a broken record, a not-so-subtle attempt to wedge himself into the sport's hallowed halls. His social media is plastered with "relatable" content: Bryson at a barbeque, tongs in hand, awkwardly flipping a hot dog! Bryson on the couch, eyes glued to Rick and Morty, (hopefully) understanding the plot this time! It's enough to make you wonder if someone swapped his caddy for a public relations consultant.

Do not be fooled  For all the hours that Bryson has spent since his days as a junior golfer engineering the perfect golfer, he forgot to allocate any attribute points to personality.  He thought that winning would be enough, but he didn’t win enough to overcome that deficiency.  Should we ignore everything we thought we knew about him and not recognize that he is now engineering a very successful rehabilitation of his personality using a checklist of items that can generally be categorized as “act like a normal human”? Sign autographs, appeal to kids, be humble in victory, gracious in defeat.  This is a con.  We are being conned.

Now, is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. DeChambeau is a captivating golfer, and a more relatable persona could certainly expand his fanbase. Why do we root who we root for?  Is it because we want to see golfers do amazing things that we can never do, and we don’t care about who they are as people off the course?  Maybe, but the fact that I’ve seen more images of Bennett Scheffler than my cousin’s new daughter who lives 2 miles away from me may suggest otherwise. There's a nagging suspicion that this is less about a change of heart and more about a strategic image overhaul.

Only time will tell if this is a genuine evolution or a performance crafted with the same precision as his unorthodox swing. One thing's for sure, though: Bryson DeChambeau's public image rehab is a fascinating case study in the age of manufactured likability. The question remains: are we witnessing a golfer embracing his fans, or a magician expertly pulling the wool over our eyes?

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