'Mad Scientist' DeChambeau shares Masters halfway lead

Darren WaltonAAP
Bryson DeChambeau blasts out of a bunker as he shares the halfway lead at the Masters. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconBryson DeChambeau blasts out of a bunker as he shares the halfway lead at the Masters. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Self-styled eccentric and golf innovator Bryson DeChambeau has ridden his "bulge and roll" technology wave all the way to the Masters halfway lead.

With custom-made, 3D-printed "face-bulging" irons never before used in professional golf, DeChambeau eked out a second-round even-par 72 in brutal conditions to remain on track for a second major championship to go with his 2020 US Open crown.

The sport's so-called "Mad Scientist" shares the lead at six under with world No.1 Scottie Scheffler (72) and fellow American Max Homa (71) as ferocious winds claimed a raft of big-name victims at Augusta National on Friday.

World No.6 Viktor Hovland, reigning US Open champion Wyndham Clark, 2023 British Open winner Brian Harman and former Masters champions Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were among the heavyweights to miss the halfway cut.

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Australian pair Cam Davis and Cameron Smith, each with rounds of 72 on a day when the scoring average was more than 75, not only avoided the carnage but surged firmly into contention.

Davis is tied for fifth at three under with dual major winner Collin Morikawa (70), one shot behind rising Dane Nicolai Hojgaard (73) and just three strokes off the lead.

Smith is only five back after carding one of the few sub-par rounds in the extremely challenging afternoon conditions.

Australian former world No.1s Jason Day and 2013 champion Adam Scott, plus Min Woo Lee also secured weekend action on a day of high drama when an extraordinary six over par emerged as the cut line and Swedish sensation Ludvig Averg (69) was the only player to break 70.

When the dust settled, DeChambeau, the overnight leader, remained atop the leaderboard, albeit after being joined by Scheffler and Homa.

"I've never experienced Augusta National in these conditions before," DeChambeau said.

"Being able to stay patient and place the ball in the correct locations and just allow myself to be OK with not so great shots out there was a key aspect of me playing well."

Above all, the LIV Golf defector may have his revolutionary new clubs - which the USGA gave him approval to use only last week - to thank for making his miss-hits fly straighter.

"I designed them with someone from back home, and they have just got a different curvature on the face than other equipment," DeChambeau said.

"Most equipment is flat. These have a different curvature on the face that allows me to have my miss-hits go a little straighter sometimes."

DeChambeau said he had learnt to deal with criticism of his unconventional ways after first using same-length irons and then bulking up to take golf's power game to insane new levels.

"I was always different growing up and I learned pretty quickly that not everybody is going to agree with you or like what you're doing," said the physics graduate.

"My mum always told me to respect others and treat others the way you want to be treated.

"I try to do that as much as possible and, when somebody doesn't agree with me, I respectfully say, 'OK, appreciate that, but I think it's this way, and we're just going to agree to disagree'.

"And that's kind of the way I've taken it over the past - well, my whole life, essentially."

DeChambeau's chief threat, obviously, is Scheffler, who continues to lurk ominously and was delighted to post even par in such extreme conditions.

"The winds were up very high and it blows from everywhere out here," he said.

"I couldn't really describe how windy it is and how difficult the gusts are, just because you just have to be out there and experience it.

"Like hitting shots into 11 and 12 today, it's so difficult."

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