The Shriners Hospitals For Children Open has a history of surrendering victories to first time PGA Tour winners, especially in recent years, as the 2014, 2015, and 2017 winners of the Las Vegas event had gone 0-for coming into the week.
Many gamblers were aware of this piece of knowledge, but it didn’t do well for anyone who put a lot of stock into it. The 2018 champion was 25-year-old superstar Bryson DeChambeau, a man who has done nothing but win in recent months. The one-stroke victory over defending champion Patrick Cantlay was DeChambeau’s third victory in his last five starts, and his fifth in the past 14 months.
Something of a golf scientist, many people do not really “get” DeChambeau, who plays the game differently than anyone ever has, but what is not difficult to see is that he is really, really good.
That was well on display with his Sunday 5-under 66, his fourth consecutive round of 66 or better, to reach 21-under for the week.
His fifth career victory elevated him to No. 5 in the world; higher than anyone who was in this week’s Shriners field. Rory McIlroy? Jordan Spieth? Rickie Fowler? Tiger Woods? Jason Day? DeChambeau outranks them all too.
We probably will not see him in competitive action until January’s Sentry Tournament of Champions – meaning that DeChambeau will end the 2018 calendar year, while also beginning the 2018-19 PGA Tour season, emphatically as one of the world’s best.
FINAL TOP-10 SCORERS
1. Bryson DeChambeau -21
2. Patrick Cantlay -20
3. Sam Ryder -19
4. Rickie Fowler -17
4. Robert Streb -17
4. Abraham Ancer -17
7. Lucas Glover -15
7. Chesson Hadley -15
7. Ryan Palmer -15
10. Gary Woodland -14
10. Joaquin Niemann -14
10. Bud Cauley -14
10. Brandon Harkins -14
10. Scott Piercy -14
15. Webb Simpson -13
15. Aaron Wise -13
23. Peter Uihlein -12
23. Kevin Tway -12
28. Cameron Champ -11
36. Ryan Moore -10
36. Tony Finau -10
55. Jordan Spieth -7
57. Davis Love III -6
57. Matt Kuchar -6
HOW BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU WON THE SHRINERS
DeChambeau asserted himself as one of the world’s best golfers when he won back-to-back titles to begin the FedExCup Playoffs two months ago.
He recorded three wins for the 2018 season, and was a prodigious talent that was widely recognized as somebody who had truly “broken out”.
Still, despite being the highest-ranked player in this week’s Shriners Hospitals For Children Open field (No. 6 in the OWGR), DeChambeau came into the week somewhat under-the-radar, as his last two outings had been staggering disappointments: a T19 (out of 30) at the season ending Tour Championship, and a nightmare 0-3-0 showing for the losing American squad at the recent Ryder Cup.
Resting the past month, however, appears to have gotten the Southern Methodist product back to his winning ways.
A third-round 65 on Saturday got DeChambeau into the 54-hole co-lead with little-known Peter Uihlein. Playing in the final Sunday threesome with Uihlein and former U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover, it did not take long for the fervent crowds to see the cream rise to the top.
DeChambeau birdied the first hole to take the solo-lead, and with two additional birdies, he played the front nine in 2-under, to stay out front.
The back-nine was a tight battle, and at one point, DeChambeau had actually lost the lead to a fast-charging Patrick Cantlay, but things switched back for good when DeChambeau drained a 57-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole, and Cantlay flubbed an otherwise simple bunker shot on 17.
Cantlay birdied 18 to get back within one, but DeChambeau showed little pressure in reaching the center of the green in two, and two-putting for a par, and the victory.
DeChambeau had just three bogeys for the entire week, with none of them coming on the back nine, while topping the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He was also fourth in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation.
WHAT WINNING MEANS FOR BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU
If DeChambeau wanted everyone to forget about his disastrous performance in Paris a month ago, he did that spectacularly in Vegas.
He made national headlines by announcing that he would be leaving the flagstick in on future putts, something that would have been especially strange coming from anyone else. With rounds of 66-66-65-66, everyone was quickly reminded that he was not some novelty, but a legitimately great player.
DeChambeau is not currently slated to compete in any further fall series events, so 2018 will have ended on a ridiculous high. He will be regarded as highly as almost anyone going into the 2019 calendar year. With four wins since early June, DeChambeau has clearly arrived, if that was not already obvious.
Bucking recent trend in this event, most of the players in the leadership mix on Sunday were veterans who had tasted PGA Tour victory before.
One would-be first time champion had the low-round of Sunday, however. Sam Ryder had the round of the day with a 9-under 62 that allowed him to finish in solo-third, the second-best result in his 30-start career.
With birdies on five of his first eight holes, Ryder exploded out of the gate to put early pressure on the leaders, and he failed to slow down any on the back nine.
Finishing 4th at last month’s Safeway Open, Ryder has top-5 finishes in two of his three starts in the new season.
Aside from DeChambeau, the only other player in the field ranked inside the world’s top 10 was Rickie Fowler, who was making his 2018-19 season debut. Fowler needed just one more stroke than DeChambeau on Sunday, shooting an 8-under 63 to finish in a tie for fourth.
While Fowler should be optimistic about the way he finished, it is not a great look that he has fewer victories (4) in 214 career starts than DeChambeau has in 71.
Fowler will continue to be under great pressure to post results commensurate to his lofty reputation.
Joining Fowler at 8-under on Sunday was Gary Woodland, who vaulted 42 spots up the final leaderboard with his sizzling round 4. With a T10 finish, Woodland now has three top-10 finishes in just three 2018-19 season starts.
Peter Uihlein had never led or co-led after three rounds of a PGA event before, which was pretty apparent with a 4-over 75 on Sunday that was much, much worse than the field average. With two birdies to four bogeys and one double-bogey, Uihlein dropped 22 spots down the final leaderboard, into a tie for 23rd.
Also disappointing on Sunday was long-hitting Cameron Champ, who was the talk of the tour after his victory at last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship.
Champ was just three shots short of the lead coming into Sunday, but despite six round 4 birdies, he shot a 2-over 73 that dropped him from T6 to T28. Champ parred just five holes in his roller-coaster Sunday round.
The worst round of Sunday came from former Tour winner Scott Stallings, who fell well off the pace with his 6-over 77 that dropped him a whopping 55 spots down the leaderboard, into a tie for 69th.
A triple-double-bogey stretch on the back nine doomed Stallings, who failed to birdie any of his last 12 holes.
“I was just coming out here to try to kick the rust off, and I was able to play some great golf. I didn’t putt my best, but I was able to get it done, so I’m pretty proud of that, and it has been a lot of hard work with my team, and I’m just happy to get it done.”
– Bryson DeChambeau