Golf: America’s DeChambeau wins US Open

Bryson DeChambeau captured his first major golf title on Sunday, firing a three-under-par 67 to win the 120th US Open and humble a relentless Winged Foot layout.

The 27-year-old American, who bulked up during the coronavirus lockdown in a bid to add power to his game, eagled the par-5 ninth from just inside 40 feet and rolled to a six-stroke victory over 21-year-old countryman Matthew Wolff.

“Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it,” said DeChambeau, renowned for his scientific approach to the sport. “It has been a lot of hard work.”

DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but finished 72 holes on six-under par 274 thanks to Sunday’s only sub-par round at the formidable Mamaroneck, New York, layout.

DeChambeau became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the final round, and just the fourth ever to do it, completing a dominating performance.

Typical deep US Open rough could not stop DeChambeau, whose exercise and protein shakes delivered powerful drives while his calculations and precise readings produced solid shotmaking on a layout that crushed rivals.

“I just kept thinking throughout the back nine, ‘We have to keep focused. I have to execute every shot the best I can.’ And that’s what I did,” he said.

DeChambeau’s 325 yards off the tee was a driving distance record by a US Open champion, defying convention by attacking without fear, taking swing speed length to outweigh drawbacks of finding the rough.

“I worked my whole life for this,” DeChambeau said. “I wasn’t that afraid of going off line. I gained the confidence I needed for the week.”

The scientist found a major-winning formula. On Saturday night, he was the last player to leave Winged Foot, working into the dark with his driver.

“Sure enough it paid off,” he said. “I’m in shock right now. It’s amazing.”

South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, was a distant third on 282, one stroke ahead of American Harris English after both fired 73 Sunday.

Wolff led last-duo partner DeChambeau by two strokes when the day began but, in his US Open debut, failed to become the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and youngest major winner since Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters.

DeChambeau, who spent a three-month coronavirus pandemic layoff building his physique, uses same-length clubs and a chart book for judging putts, bringing some slow-play complaints but also six prior PGA Tour victories.

Ninth-ranked DeChambeau won in July at Detroit and shared fourth at last month’s PGA, his best major finish until Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic postponed the US Open from June and led to a spectator ban, although some fans cheered from beyond boundary fences.

Wolff led DeChambeau by two strokes at the start but made bogey at the par-3 third. DeChambeau joined him on 4-under with a birdie at the fourth, blasting from rough to 13 feet and sinking the putt.

Wolff missed a downhill 10-foot par putt at the fifth while DeChambeau hit a seven-footer for par and took the lead alone for good, even after they both made bogeys at the eighth.

DeChambeau curled in an epic 40-foot eagle putt at the 556-yard par-5 ninth, but Wolff knocked in a 10-footer to match him and stay one back.

Wolff began the back nine with a bogey, missing a 10-foot par putt, and DeChambeau rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 11th to seize a three-stroke lead. Wolff took a bogey at 14 and a double bogey at 16 while DeChambeau closed with seven pars, the last on 18 from seven feet to seal victory.

“Going through my body was just chills,” DeChambeau said.

– ‘Just a tough day’ –
Xander Schauffele shot 74 and settled for fifth on 284, one stroke ahead of two fellow Americans, top-ranked Dustin Johnson and Will Zalatoris.

“Tough golf course,” Johnson said. “I gave myself enough chances, but I just didn’t putt well enough.”

Third-ranked American Justin Thomas finished on 286 to share eighth in a pack with fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, who closed with a 75.

“It was really difficult. Wind was up again,” McIlroy said. “Looks like everyone found it pretty tough out there. Just a tough day.”

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