At last month’s Porsche European Open, a European Tour event with a modest field, Bryson DeChambeau brought a four-shot lead into the final round, but after an embarrassing implosion down the final stretch, the 24-year-old finished T13, and had to answer copious questions about his mental fortitude and his maturity in the aftermath.
However, as much as that loss stung, DeChambeau did what the greats do: he learned from it, and the next time he got in that position, he did not let it happen again.
Bringing another four-shot lead into a final round, this time at The Northern Trust – the first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. With quadruple FedExCup points, and a likely Ryder Cup roster spot in the mix, DeChambeau never let anyone close, shooting a 2-under 69 and winning at The Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey by four strokes over Tony Finau.
“It’s amazing. This one was different. I had to grind out a couple shots at the end. Wasn’t expecting a couple of the shots I hit; a little nerves here and there,” said DeChambeau. “Not really knowing what to do under the gun like that with that tremendous of a lead, I’m kind of trying to protect a little bit.
“It was a big learning experience for me.”
The second victory of the season for DeChambeau vaulted him to the top of the FedExCup standings, and assuming that American Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk was paying attention during his week off from play, Bryson should be able to book his flight to Paris now. Only one spot appears to be in question now.
Final Top 10
1. Bryson DeChambeau -18
2. Tony Finau -14
3. Billy Horschel -13
3. Cameron Smith -13
5. Adam Scott -12
5. Ryan Palmer -12
5. Aaron Wise -12
8. Justin Thomas -11
8. Brooks Koepka -11
8. Patrick Cantlay -11
11. Dustin Johnson -10
15. Phil Mickelson -9
15. Hideki Matsuyama -9
20. Jason Day -8
20. Tommy Fleetwood -8
25. Jordan Spieth -7
25. Patrick Reed -7
28. Louis Oosthuizen -6
28. Webb Simpson -6
34. Bubba Watson -5
40. Tiger Woods -4
48. Ian Poulter -3
60. Paul Casey -1
73. Kevin Kisner +2
76. Si Woo Kim +4
How Bryson DeChambeau Won The Northern Trust
A difficult four-start stretch by DeChambeau, where he withdrew from his championship defense at the John Deere Classic, and then had finishes of T51 and 30 before missing the cut at the PGA Championship, dropped him into the 9th spot on the final Ryder Cup Standings, with only the top 8 qualifying for a much-desired spot automatically.
After a 68-66 opening to The Northern Trust, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs, DeChambeau really put his foot on the gas with a 7-under 63 on Saturday to get himself into pole position for the final round.
DeChambeau closed with two consecutive birdies to cap off that Saturday round, and on Sunday, he stayed hot, beginning his round birdie-birdie to send a message to the field that they would have to go very low to catch him.
A bogey on the par-5 3rd hole, followed by five straight pars, and a second bogey, gave the field a glimmer of hope to catch the SMU product, but he made that impossible with a bogey-free 2 under back nine, finishing the day with the same four-shot margin he held after 54 holes.
The closest anyone got was two shots, when Aaron Wise got hot early on his back nine but a pair of bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 ended the threat.
DeChambeau led the Ridgewood field in birdies (24) and greens in regulation for the week. Also finishing fifth in both in strokes gained: putting and strokes gained: tee-to-green, the field was basically left in the dust.
What This Victory Means To DeChambeau
DeChambeau has two victories on the PGA Tour this season, with both coming in events with exceptional fields: The Ridgewood today and The Memorial Tournament in early June. Starting the FedExCup playoffs in 8th place, DeChambeau is now in first. His world ranking will also rise to a career-high 12th.
Perhaps best of all, the win greatly improves his public perception, and now it would be considered an enormous upset if Jim Furyk does not select DeChambeau with one of his four captains picks, three of which are due at the conclusion of next week’s Dell Technologies Championship.
With eight top 10s on the season, and a dominant performance against an A+ caliber field, DeChambeau is impossible to ignore, even among those who soured on him after the lukewarm handshake he delivered to Richard McEvoy, the biggest beneficiary of his German meltdown last month.
The FedExCup playoffs began as it always does, with the top 125 players in the season-long FedExCup standings making the field for the first round. With quadruple points being proffered in playoff events, there was enormous potential for movement at Ridgewood.
In an average year, 5.8 players move from outside the top 100 to within at The Northern Trust. This year, fitting the trend, that number was six:
Moving INTO the top 100:
Nick Watney: 102nd to 67th
Bronson Burgoon: 111th to 73rd
Jhonattan Vegas: 123rd to 87th
Scott Stallings: 107th to 94th
Danny Lee: 103rd to 98th
Brian Stuard: 118th to 99th
To make room for those six, the following players fell out of the top 100: Trey Mullinax, Brandon Harkins, Patrick Rodgers, Charl Schwartzel, Alex Cejka, and Rory Sabbatini.
Other notable players whose seasons have come to an end include Sean O’Hair (106th), Harold Varner III (107th), Martin Laird (115th), Vaughn Taylor (118th), and Sam Saunders (120th).
Ryder Cup Movement
With two events left until Furyk’s Captain’s Picks are due, it would seem that three of the four are essentially decided.
In addition to DeChambeau, the belief was that Ryder Cup veterans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were locks barring catastrophic playoff performances. Both solidified those positions.
Playing in his first playoffs since 2013, Tiger posted a final-round 1-under 70 to finish T40. Mickelson, who was not seen as QUITE as much of a lock as Tiger, was even better, at least for the week. Phil bounced back from three front-nine bogeys to shoot an even-par 70, and combined with 68s in each of the first three rounds, he finished T15, his first top-20 in his last six starts.
And as for the other selection? Tony Finau’s runner-up position likely gave him a big advantage over the three players he was believed to be competing against: Matt Kuchar, who finished T60 at Ridgewood, Kevin Kisner, who finished T73, and Xander Schauffele, who missed the cut entirely.
Finau is still searching for his first victory in a non-opposite field event, but despite a number of missed putts on Sunday that could have gotten him even closer to DeChambeau, he shot a 3-under 68. It was Finau’s third runner-up finish of the season, with this one jumping him to 4th in the FedExCup Standings, giving him a good shot at controlling his destiny at East Lake (the top 5 going into the Tour Championship automatically win the Cup with a victory).
DeChambeau was undoubtedly the star of The Northern Trust, but he was not the only player who impressed at Ridgewood on Sunday. The round of the day came early, as England’s Tyrrell Hatton bought a $149 putter from Golf Galaxy before teeing off, which proved to be the difference in a 7-under 64.
Hatton moved 38 spots up the leaderboard, finishing T20. With his history of running hot-and-cold, he will be feeling very good going into next week.
Ryan Palmer came into The Northern Trust in the 100th spot in the FedExCup standings, but he is no longer anywhere close to the bubble, as a bogey-free 6-under 65 led to a T5 finish, and vaulted him into the 50th spot in the standings. It was just his third top-10 of the season.
With six birdies in his first 14 holes, Aaron Wise at least gave himself a prayer down the stretch. Bogeys on 16 and 17 dropped him into a tie for fifth, but the 4-under 67 gave him his best finish since winning the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
A sizzling 9-under 62 on Saturday got former PGA Champion Keegan Bradley into the final pairing on Sunday, but as amazing as he looked in the third round, he was that bad in the final round.
With four bogeys and two doubles on the front nine, Bradley stumbled to a field-worst 7-over 78, causing him to plummet from second place all the way to a tie for 34th. He ended up moving just two spots up the FedExCup standings to 47th, as his Sunday cost him a tremendous opportunity to lock up a spot in the Tour Championship.
Another player who bombed on Sunday, after great success earlier in the week, was 36-hole leader Jamie Lovemark. After opening the tournament with back-to-back 66s, Lovemark had his second consecutive over-par round on Sunday, shooting a 3-over 74 to finish T34.
Jordan Spieth shot a third-round 64 to get on the periphery of contention, but after he lost his ball (seriously) on his third-hole tee shot, he carded a double-bogey to dig a big hole early. He played well on the back nine, but a 2-over 73 was a big disappointment by his standards.
Spieth dropped 18 spots down the Sunday leaderboard, finishing T25.
“It’s amazing. This one was different. I had to grind out a couple shots at the end. Wasn’t expecting a couple of the shots I hit; a little nerves here and there. Not really knowing what to do under the gun like that with that tremendous of a lead, I’m kind of trying to protect a little bit. It was a big learning experience for me.”
– Bryson DeChambeau