By the time the sun was up in the US on Thursday, the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship was over and the name at the top of the leaderboard was about as unlikely as anyone in the golfing world could imagine.
In a field of former No. 1s and Major winners, American amateur Bryson DeChambeau stood alone at the top of the charts after recording an 8-under 64.
So who is this young American who finds himself four strokes ahead of Jordan Spieth and two ahead of Rory McIlroy?
For starters, he’s a a 22-year-old from Modesto, California, who won the 2010 California State Junior Championship. He earned a golf scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and won the NCAA title in 2015. Two months later he won the US Amateur title, joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to do both things in the same year.
He’s also brilliant, majoring in physics at SMU, a small, private university, and a heck of a dresser, with headwear that Payne Stewart would be proud of.
He also has every iron in his bag fitted to the same length with the same bounce configuration and lie angle.
And he appears to be absolutely self-aware of how striking a figure he makes, as he made known during his post-round interview on Thursday.
“You look at trends in humanity and most like following the norm,” DeChambeau told reporters. “But you’ve also got people like Einstein and George Washington; they stood out and capitalized on their differences and showed the world a little different side.”