The upcoming PGA Championship in San Francisco offers no shortage of compelling plotlines and several of them revolve around Bryson DeChambeau. The eccentric 26-year-old has been the talk of the tour and for good reason, amazing the masses with goliath drives and his newly muscular frame. DeChambeau attributes his recent change in physique to a diet consisting largely of protein shakes and other high-calorie offerings. Predictably, many have been skeptical of the golfer’s rapid weight gain (he’s put on 50 pounds since last year), quietly alluding to his possible use of performance-enhancing substances.
DeChambeau’s trainer Greg Roskopf assured ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski that is not the case, though he understands why some might jump to that conclusion. “Under normal circumstances, you'd say the only way somebody could make those changes is by taking steroids,”said Roskopf who, in addition to his work with DeChambeau, is also on the Denver Broncos’ payroll. “I can guarantee you, that's not been part of his process and not even a thought in his head.” Roskopf went onto explain that DeChambeau’s plan to cultivate mass (as Mac from It’s Always Sunny might put it) has been in the works for three years.
“It's just been part of the evolution of him being involved in this program and being able to tolerate the forces that his body's been able to tolerate,” said Roskopf, explaining how DeChambeau has increased his average driving distance from 302.5 yards last season (tied for 34th) to 324.4 in 2020 (1st). “And those changes in strength have been amazing, but it's all natural from this end of it."
While DeChambeau has claimed to consume 3,500 calories a day, Roskopf believes that figure is actually much higher. “I think that's very low. It might be close to double that, 5- to 6,000,” said Roskopf. “He's got a lot of calories going into his body, and in a low level, 3,000 to 3,500 wouldn't allow him to gain the type of mass that he's gained over this short period of time."
ESPN’s Bob Harig notes all players on the PGA Tour are subject random drug tests, which would, at least in theory, be able to detect the presence of steroids or other performance-enhancers. Roskopf has worked with plenty of athletes in his day, but he’s never seen anyone transform their body the way DeChambeau has in the past six months. “A lineman or a linebacker can come into the NFL and in their career gain maybe 10 to 20 pounds. But to see somebody gain 50 pounds and in that time that he's done it is, I mean, kind of unbelievable."
Roskopf’s adamant defense of DeChambeau likely won’t stop critics from questioning his methods, though that’s nothing new for the world’s seventh-ranked golfer, who has been a frequent source of controversy since arriving on the tour in 2016. DeChambeau has never finished better than 15th in a major tournament, but hopes to change that this week at Harding Park, where he’ll tee off Thursday alongside Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott at 4:47 PM ET.