Summer Links: Bryson DeChambeau fulfills promise as first-time major champion

  • Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, speaks after winning US Open, Sunday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. AP

  • Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, reacts after sinking a putt for par on the 18th hole to win the US Open, Sunday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. AP

Published: 9/21/2020 5:08:27 PM

It was only a matter of time before Bryson DeChambeau became a major champion.

The hulking 27-year-old Californian took all the drama out of Sunday’s final round of the 120th U.S. Open. His 3-under 67 had him finish six strokes ahead of the field, as the only player under par with a winning score of 6-under. It was a dominant performance, one particularly impressive on historically treacherous Winged Foot Golf Club, where over par scores are certainly the normal.

If not for DeChambeau, the tournament scoring would’ve looked around what many expected. Runner-up Matthew Wolff, the leader entering Sunday’s final round, finished at even-par for the tournament. Behind him, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen was third at 2-over, and Americans Harris English (3-over) and Xander Schauffele (4-over) rounded out the top five.

The popular sentiment after Sunday’s final round came to its conclusion was that big hitters can overpower difficult courses. Winged Foot – set up by Superintendent and Athol native Steve Rabideau – prides itself on difficult and thick rough, making it tough to spin the ball upon approach into hazardous greens. But when DeChambeau, who led the tournament in driving distance with an average of 325 yards (the longest of any U.S. Open champion), missed the fairway – and he did often – he still really only had to hit wedges and 9-irons into the green.

It was a coronation for a player who came out of the PGA Tour break due to COVID-19 with added muscle, as DeChambeau put an emphasis on getting bigger in order to drive the ball longer. It has worked since the restart, and it certainly worked over the weekend with his first major victory.

Chips and putts

Poor Danny Lee.

The 30-year-old New Zealander withdrew from the U.S. Open on Saturday, doing so in dramatic yet relatable fashion. Standing on the 18th green at Winged Foot, Lee had four feet left for his par to close out a solid round.

That’s when things went south in a hurry.

Lee missed his first putt to the left, and the ball slid four feet past the hole. He missed that putt, again to the left, and his frustration was starting to mount. Out of contention, he swiped at his ball with a third putt, and sent it flying past the hole some eight feet away.

Like we’ve all done at one point, Lee’s wheels were off, and he just started swinging his putter at the ball without taking any time to aim. When all was said and done, he six-putted from four feet, slammed his putter into his bag, walked off the green and withdrew from the tournament without playing the final round.

You can find the clip on social media. Not only will it make you feel better, it’ll give you something to think about next time you find yourself in a similar situation at your local track.

Notables

South Hadley’s Richy Werenski missed the cut, finishing with a two-round total of 12-over. He joined an impressive list of players who didn’t make it to the weekend, including Tiger Woods (10-over), Phil Mickelson (13-over), Justin Rose (10-over), defending champion Gary Woodland (8-over) and Collin Morikawa (7-over).

As for my picks in last week’s column? Rose missed the cut, and Tony Finau tied for eighth place in yet another impressive showing in a major tournament. No winners, but I’m just fine-tuning my picks for the Masters later this fall.

Jeff Lajoie is the sports editor for the Recorder. He can be reached at jlajoie@recorder.com




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