Bryson DeChambeau released the Kraken — and it snapped

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PGA Championship Notebook

By EDDIE PELLS The Associated Press,Updated August 7, 2020, 12:08 a.m.

Bryson DeChambeau affixes his new shaft to his driver head as he walks off the eighth tee with caddie Tim Tucker.
Bryson DeChambeau affixes his new shaft to his driver head as he walks off the eighth tee with caddie Tim Tucker.Tom Pennington/Getty

The Kraken cracked.

About Bryson
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Bryson DeChambeau released the Kraken — and it snapped

About DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau’s mission to change the game ran into a minor detour when his driver broke after he teed off on No. 7 in the first round of the PGA Championship Thursday at San Francisco.

Newly bulked up, and front and center in most conversations about pro golf this year, DeChambeau unleashed the club he calls “The Kraken.’’ He thought he’d hit a draw. The ball spun weirdly to the right. And as he was using the club to balance himself and snatch the tee out of the ground, the head snapped off.

Bryson DeChambeau released the Kraken — and it snapped

“It’s material,” he said. “Eventually, it’s going to go.”

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Not to worry. A local rule in place this week allowed him to replace the club — a fortunate twist of fate for both the big-hitting DeChambeau and those who have enjoyed watching him overpower pro golf courses so far in 2020.

DeChambeau shot 2-under 68 to finish three shots out of the lead.

Tiger Woods opened with a 2-under 68, which is worth noting because of his history in the majors. He has won 15 of them, more than anyone but Jack Nicklaus.

But rarely does Woods get off to great starts. He has three wire-to-wire wins — at the 2000 US Open and 2002 US Open, and the 2005 British Open — and only once has he rallied in the final round to win (2019 Masters).

Tiger Woods talks with caddie Joe LaCava on the 11th tee Thursday.
Tiger Woods talks with caddie Joe LaCava on the 11th tee Thursday.Ezra Shaw/Getty

Of his 15 majors, he started with a round in the 60s seven times. In his five Masters victories, he has never started with a round lower than 70.

Some context is required, but his 68 was his lowest start in a major since the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham St. Annes, and his lowest in the PGA Championship since a 67 at Hazeltine in 2009.

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Of course, Woods was coping with injuries in 2011, and his series of back surgeries began in 2014. He missed 10 majors from 2014 through 2017. Still, it was a solid start for someone playing for only the second time in six months.

“I made some good putts,” he said. “For the most part of the day, I missed the ball on the correct sides. This golf course, you have to hit the ball in the fairway. I felt like I did a decent job of doing that, and the golf course is only going to get more difficult as the week goes on.”

Zach Johnson is one of three players who have played at every big event at Harding Park since it was refurbished.

He was in his second year on the PGA Tour when he tied for 43rd in the American Express Championship, which Tiger Woods won in a playoff. He went 2-3, losing to Tim Clark in singles, at the 2009 Presidents Cup that the United States won. He went 2-1 in his matches at the Cadillac Match Play in 2015, but failed to advance to single elimination when Branden Grace won the group in a playoff.

And now he’s at the PGA Championship, with no complaints about the start. Johnson opened with a 66.

Zach Johnson watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during Thursday's action.
Zach Johnson watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during Thursday’s action.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Johnson played nine holes Monday in warm weather and thought he could handle the course. And then on Tuesday, when the chill and the fog and the wind took over, he thought it was one of the hardest golf courses he had ever played.

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“But it was gettable today,” he said. “With minimal winds and obviously decent temperatures, this is what I remember this course playing the three other times I competed here. It’s a little longer, but this is how I remember it.”