Three weeks after a bulked-up DeChambeau pounded Winged Foot into submission, Fitzpatrick was contesting the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and noted with dismay DeChambeau’s opening 62 in that week’s PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.
“I’m going to be biased because I’m not quite the longest, but at Winged Foot – fair play to him, he won and shot six under – the fairways were tight as hell and I drove it brilliantly, I actually played pretty well, and I’m miles behind,” Fitzpatrick said.
“He’s in the rough and miles up and he’s just hitting wedges everywhere. It just makes a bit of a mockery of it I think.”
Twenty months on, Fitzpatrick found himself following in DeChambeau’s footsteps as a US Open champion and explaining his own distance gains after a nerve-wracking win at Brookline.
“I’ve done my drug test, and it was negative, so we’re all good,” Fitzpatrick joked in response to being told that joint runner-up Scottie Scheffler had suggested he had been “on the Bryson program”.
“Since 2020 I spent a lot of time working with Mike Walker, my coach, and bio-mechanist Sasho Mackenzie.
“He gave me this speed stick called The Stack. I’ve been doing that religiously week in and week out. It’s like going to the gym basically. I’ll be honest, it’s worked wonders.
“I feel like maybe three, four years ago if I was in this position, playing with Will (Zalatoris) in the final group, I’d be concerned that I’m going to be 15, 20 behind him.
“And I felt comfortable all day that I was going to be past him, which to me gives me confidence obviously going into the next shot knowing that you’ve got less club.”
Fitzpatrick revelled in his new-found status as one of the game’s big hitters during the first two rounds at Brookline, the 27-year-old averaging 317.7 yards in driving distance, two yards ahead of playing partner Dustin Johnson.
And that extra length paid off in Sunday’s final round, when he was the only leading contender to drive the green on the short par-four fifth and also hit the green in two on the par-five eighth to set up easy birdies.
Scheffler and Will Zalatoris both failed to birdie either of those holes and finished one shot behind.
“Since I’ve been hard on it from the start this year, I’ve noticed an even bigger jump (in distance) without really feeling like I’m going after it,” Fitzpatrick added.
“I saw where Rory (McIlroy) and Jon Rahm was on five. I don’t know what they hit, but for me, hitting driver and pitching it on the green, I didn’t actually expect that.
“I thought I was going to be short because a few guys I watched were shorter, and that was kind of a real good indication of where I’ve got to.”