21 Sep 2020 | Professional golf |

DeChambeau's new world order

by Martin Blake

DeChambeau US Open image
Bryson DeChambeau celebrates at Winged Foot. Photo: Getty

Bryson DeChambeau produced the greatest round of his life at the most important time, and he is now a major champion.

DeChambeau shot a three-under par 67 at a brutal Winged Foot, by three shots the best score of the final round of the US Open, to win by a stunning six shots today, the biggest winning margin in this tournament since Martin Kaymer’s eight-shot domination in 2014.

He was the only player in the field to finish in red numbers at six-under par. Lucas Herbert tied-31st to be the top Australian.

DeChambeau, the 27-year-old Californian with the quirky ways and the modern mindset, joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won all three of the US Amateur, the national collegiate championship, and a US Open.

His victory vindicates his decision at the end of last year to dedicate himself to a weight program, increase his bulk, and change his swing so that he could hit farther. At Winged Foot, a course not meant to be dominated, his bomb and gouge style triumphed where it was thought it could not.

As such, his win – alongside the second-place performance of long-hitting Matthew Wolff, the overnight leader – has already led to questioning about how far the ball flies and the impact on the game’s great, old courses. “The second-guessers will have to rethink,” mused Paul Azinger, the former US Ryder Cup captain, on the television broadcast.

It all has to go in the context that he took the challenge on and played brilliantly. Said Wolff: "I was just told that there's a lot of people in here (media centre) saying what he's doing is pretty exceptional. To watch it first-hand, I have to agree."

DeChambeau’s domination was unequivocal. He started out two shots back from Wolff, but had the lead by the fifth, when Wolff bogeyed. At the par-five ninth, he hit an iron on to the green and bombed the long putt for eagle (although Wolff also made a three) and had his first thoughts of lifting the trophy.

They were only momentarily in his mind. “I made that lock eagle putt, I shocked myself by making that two and I thought to myself ‘I could do it’,’’ he said. “And immediately afterward I thought ‘No, you’ve got to focus on each and every hole’. I kept through the course of the back nine telling myself, ‘no. We’ve got three more holes to go, four more holes, five more holes, whatever it was. I had to keep focus, make sure I was executing every single shot as best I can.”

Another birdie at No. 11 and seven straight pars were well and truly enough. Four shots ahead at the 16th, he watched Wolff make double bogey from deep rough behind the green and it became a six-shot buffer and a triumphal march to the finish line in front of the old clubhouse at Winged Foot.

Even at 18, where he could not reach the green from deep rough, he chipped it up to just beyond two metres behind the flag and holed the curling right-to-left putt to save par, lifting his arms in the air and finally celebrating.

The 21-year-old Wolff could not handle the pressure in his first US Open but he still finished outright second after his final-round 75 at even-par. Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa was next at two-over par.

It was a tearful DeChambeau who spoke to his parents afterward by video link. With his slow play and his idiosyncrasies -- his irons are all the same length, for instance -- he has attracted more than his fair share of critics, but he can surely play the game.

He paid tribute to his coach Chris Como who has bedded down the changes that he made. “He’s done so many great things for me this past year, going through this body transformation, changing my golf swing, inspiring me to hit it farther … as far as I can,” he said. “He ultimately has allowed me to have the confidence to go forward with that thought process, go forward and attack it and not be fearful of it, and try and gain speed. Try and press the status quo.”

The status quo? Maybe we just witnessed it up close.

"You know, I hope I can inspire some people," he said. "My goal in playing golf and playing this game is to try and figure it out. I'm just trying to figure out this very complex, multivariable game, and multidimensional game as well. It's very, very difficult. It's a fun journey for me.

"I hope that inspires people to say, hey, look, maybe there is a different way to do it. Not everybody has to do it my way. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying in general that there are different ways to do things. If you can find your own way, find your passion -- like Arnie (Palmer) said, swing your swing. That's what I do.

"That's what Matthew Wolff does. That's what Tiger does. That's what Phil does. That's what everybody does, and we're all trying to play the best golf we can."

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