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Bryson DeChambeau cruises to U.S. Open title

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MAMARONECK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the 120th U.S. Open Championship on September 19, 2020 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

MAMARONECK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the 120th U.S. Open Championship on September 19, 2020 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Fires on all cylinders to tame legendary Winged Foot

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    Winged Foot Golf Club

    MAMARONECK, N.Y. – This was already the least conventional U.S. Open ever.

    It was the first not played in June since 1931. There were also no spectators, a necessary evil in the COVID era but one that was felt even more acutely at a New York metropolitan area major.

    So maybe it was fitting that on top of all that strangeness we got the 1:30 p.m. final twosome of iconoclasts Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau. After a year-long physical transformation that raised eyebrows, DeChambeau validated his methods by swinging away and winning his first major at Winged Foot, his final-round 67 good for a six-shot victory over Wolff (75).

    “I think I'm definitely changing the way people think about the game,” DeChambeau said. “Now, whether you can do it, that's a whole different situation. There's a lot of people that are going to be hitting it far. Matthew was hitting it plenty far today.

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    “A couple of putts just didn't go in for him today and kept the momentum on my side.”

    DeChambeau his just 41 percent of the fairways but proved that he could pick apart the course from the rough. His final round was the best of the day by three, and he was the only player to finish the tournament under par. It was his seventh PGA TOUR win and first major. His eyes welled with tears after he signed his scorecard and was presented with a video link to his family.

    Louis Oosthuizen (73) finished third, eight back. Harris English (73) was fourth.

    The winner said his confidence was at an “all-time high” and he played like it Sunday.

    “Where’s the flag?” DeChambeau asked his caddie Tim Tucker as they stood on the tee at the 444-yard, par-4 14th hole. At this point DeChambeau, who has always sought every piece of information available, was already three up on a faltering Wolff.

    “Twelve on and four off the left,” Tucker said.

    With that, DeChambeau swung from the heels and ripped a 296-yard drive – into the wind.

    Did it hit the fairway? Oddly enough, DeChambeau made that question a moot point. He hit six of 14 fairways Sunday and 23 of 56 for the week, but thrived, anyway. That flew in the face of the conventional wisdom that there was absolutely no way to play Winged Foot from the rough.

    “Everyone talked about hitting fairways out here,” said Xander Schauffele (74, 4 over, solo fifth). “It's not about hitting fairways. It's about hitting on the correct side of the hole and hitting it far so you can kind of hit a wedge instead of a 6-iron out of the rough.

    “Yeah, he's sort of trending in the new direction of golf,” Schauffele added, “and he said he wanted to do everything he's doing, and yeah, happy for him. He's playing unbelievable.”

    DeChambeau has engineered his approach every step of the way, forever using math and science to try and outsmart the competition. The single-length clubs, the one-plane swing, and now the emphasis on protein shakes and gaining weight in order to bludgeon drives and stack the deck in his favor. It’s all clearly working; this was his second victory of 2020.

    “No chance,” said Rory McIlroy (75, T8), when asked if he could have foreseen a player hitting so few fairways and winning. “I don't really know what to say because that's just the complete opposite of what you think a U.S. Open champion does.

    “Look, he's found a way to do it,” McIlroy added. “Whether that's good or bad for the game, I don't know, but it's just – it's not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It's kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”

    One of the confounding things about DeChambeau is that while he generates the most buzz with his driving, he’s not one-dimensional. His 67 was the best final round by three shots over Dustin Johnson, Erik van Rooyen and Taylor Pendrith. Was it all just brawn? Hardly.

    DeChambeau also tied for fifth in greens in regulation and tied for 11th in putting.

    “You still have to be able to control your ball,” said Shane Lowry (72, 15 over), “you still have to be able to chip and putt. If it was just about hitting the ball long, the long drivers would be out here playing in these major championships and they're not.”

    The putting, in particular, has been a long time coming for the winner.

    “The putting has gradually improved over the course of my career,” DeChambeau said. “I was dead last when I came out on TOUR, and the SIK guys, SIK golf, they helped me understand how a ball needs to roll in order to give me the best chance to hole a putt.

    “Over the course of these four years, every year I've gotten a little bit better,” he added.

    How much better can he get? He doesn’t know, he said, but he intends to find out. He intends to keep powering through, ignoring the doubters, and changing the game.

    “I'm not going to stop,” he said. “Next week I'm going to be trying a 48-inch driver.”

    DeChambeau has a major, and the Bryson DeChambeau experiment gets more interesting by the day.

    Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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