DeChambeau cruises to victory at THE NORTHERN TRUSTThird win on PGA TOUR propels him to FedExCup No. 1
August 26, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Bryson DeChambeau’s solid chip shot on No. 12 at THE NORTHERN TRUST
PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods isn’t sure how he came to be pals with Bryson DeChambeau, who cruised to a four-shot victory over Tony Finau (68) with a final-round 69 at THE NORTHERN TRUST at Ridgewood Country Club on Sunday.
Perhaps the relationship was fated: one guy (Woods) who is unrivaled in his understanding of the game, and the other (DeChambeau) who is bound and determined to explain its every nuance in terms that evoke Bill Nye the Science Guy.
“I don't know,” said Woods (70, T40). “That's kind of one of the weird ones, yeah. It kind of just happened. It just kind of evolved.”
No one came closer than two shots of the winner as DeChambeau controlled his game and his emotions all day, starting with two straight birdies.
Billy Horschel (68) and Cameron Smith (69) tied for third, five back.
The golf world is still scratching its collective head as it gets to know the quirky DeChambeau, who won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide earlier this season, and whose second victory of the summer, worth 2000 points, lands him at No. 1 in the FedExCup Playoffs.
The winner brought a four-shot lead into the final round, saw it cut to two by surging rookie Aaron Wise (67), then steadied himself with birdies at 12 and 13 and sailed home from there.
DeChambeau, who likely assured himself a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, is still just 24, so we don’t have all the answers. We know he’s different. (Single-length shafts in his irons, single-plane swing.) He’s good. (Three TOUR wins by 24 make him one of the most promising young players in America, and the world.) And that his success has not kind of just happened. (He spends more time on the range than most caged tractors.)
Most of all, we know he cares. A lot.
“Well, Bryson, you know … he's very fiery,” Woods said. “We all know he's extremely intelligent, but his heart, he gives it everything he has and is always trying to get better.”
DeChambeau has made his reputation as a numbers-cruncher and science-lover who revels in the physics of the game. He is constantly talking about biomechanics, among other multi-syllabic science words, but he’s not above poking a little fun at himself.
“I like the guy,” said Kevin Na. “If I’m playing with him, I always make sure I have a question for him to stir up his brain and see if he has the answers. Like, we were doing an MGM outing at Shadow Creek and I asked him a question about green slope. I always poke him a little, see if he’s got the answers and is as smart as he says he is. He’s a great guy, and I’m happy for him.”
Ditto for Woods. As for their friendship, DeChambeau said he was drawn to the 14-time major winner’s excellence.
“How good he is,” DeChambeau said of what he’s learned from the 79-time PGA TOUR winner. “I mean, I never realized the immense talent he has in regards to the feel in his hands and his ability to control the golf ball and do things that I've never seen before. … It's definitely helped this year.”
But do they speak the same language?
“At times,” DeChambeau said. “And at times he tells me to shut up and hit the ball. It is what it is. (Laughing). It's fun. I like to joke with him a little bit. It's been great.”
DeChambeau was Tiger-like in his dissection of Ridgewood, finishing T27 in driving accuracy, 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, and fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting (+6.962).
“I feel a lot of the things that he says,” Woods said, “but we articulate it completely differently. But I understand what he's saying. … It's a lot of fun to needle him and give him a hard time about it, but I definitely respect what he says because of the fact that he does a lot of research. I mean, he is very into what he's doing.”
WOODS’ PUTTING WOES CONTINUE: Just two weeks after he thrived on the greens in a runner-up effort at the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods struggled at THE NORTHERN TRUST. After doing well just to make the 36-hole cut, he never really found anything with the putter and shot a final-round 70 to finish 4 under at Ridgewood, miles back at T40.
“You know, just the way it goes,” said Woods, who took 35 putts in the second round and was 79th in Strokes Gained: Putting (-4.925). “You have good weeks and you have bad weeks. The greens, sometimes they look good to you. Sometimes they don't. All of my good putts, basically, went in at Bellerive, and the bad putts lipped-out. This week, the good putts lipped-out and the bad ones didn't have a chance. That's the way it goes.”
The good news for Woods is he hit 11 of 14 fairways Sunday, his best of the week. More good news: He’s won at TPC Boston, which will host the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, the Dell Technologies Championship, starting Friday.
“Well, the fact that I played a lot better than my score indicates,” Woods said, when asked what he would take away from his week here. “I didn't make any birdies this week. I didn't putt well and at the end of the day, I found a piece of my game that has been missing, which is driving it well, but you have to make putts. That's the only way we're going to shoot low rounds. I didn't do it this week.”
NA GETS HEAD IN THE GAME: Kevin Na (67, T15) hasn’t had a hat deal since before THE PLAYERS Championship, so he’s been having fun with it. For a while he wore a hat with the silhouette of a goat that he purchased at THE PLAYERS Championship, and then he switched to a “SO HI” hat, signifying Southern Highlands, his home club in Las Vegas. That was the one he wore for his victory at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in July, his first PGA TOUR win in seven years and second overall.
THE NORTHERN TRUST at Ridgewood brought a new idea for Na’s headwear, and one that was a hit with the locals: a New York Yankees cap. The idea was partly a nod to the New York area fans, but also a tip of the cap to Kenny Harms, Na’s caddie.
“Kenny grew up around here, went to Paramus High, and I’m a free agent right now,” Na said. “He’s like, ‘Hey, why not wear a Yankees hat?’ I was like, okay. I had a gray one and a black one; it was buy one, get one half off at the store. The gray one is out because I shot four over on Friday, but this black one worked really well.
“I had fun with it,” Na said. “A lot of fans were commenting that they liked my hat. It’s kind of nice to get the local support.”
Na, 34, came into the week at 19th in the FedExCup, and will stay there entering the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. But as well as the black Yankees cap worked for him at Ridgewood, don’t expect him to push his luck in week two of the Playoffs.
“There may be a Boston hat next week,” Na said with a laugh.
PHIL MICKELSON – Struggled with accuracy off the tee, hitting just five of 14 fairways, but still fought hard for an even-par 71 and a T15 finish going into the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. “It was a good positive start (to the week),” he said. “Today was a struggle. I had to fight hard just to get to even. Nothing came easy.”
BROOKS KOEPKA – Finished uneven week with a final-round 69 to wind up 11 under and T8.
AARON WISE – In a tight Rookie of the Year race with Austin Cook, Wise went 6 under through 14 holes to get within two, but fell back with back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17 and carded a 67 to finish 12 under and T5.
JUSTIN THOMAS – Defending FedExCup champion finished strong with a final-round 68 to get to 11 under and finish T8. Shot all four rounds in the 60s but slips from second to third in the FedExCup, behind winner DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson.
KEEGAN BRADLEY – Played in the final group with DeChambeau but hit just 7 of 14 fairways and was 80th in Strokes Gained: Putting (-3.139) as he struggled to a 78 for T34.
QUOTABLESJust really proud of how I played in the first Playoffs event.Driver kind of let me down a little bit today but nothing that can't be fixed over the next week.I knew if I could play well … I could lock up my spot in THE TOUR Championship. I've done that.
Low round: 64 by Tyrell Hatton (T20)
Longest drive: 379 yards, by Dustin Johnson (T11) at the fifth hole.
Longest putt: 41 feet, 9 inches, by Jordan Spieth (73, T25) at the 11th hole.
Fewest putts: 25, by Austin Cook, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter
Easiest hole: The 581-yard, par-5 17th played to a 4.613 average.
Hardest hole: The 473-yard, par-4 eighth played to a 4.350 average.
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Ryan Palmer hole-out eagle for Shot of the day
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