For the golfer who holds a deep appreciation of the game’s history, few accomplishments feel more significant than finishing second at Bay Hill, better known as “Arnie’s Place.” One of those, however, would be winning at Jack’s.
A few months after taking solo-second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bryson DeChambeau emerged victorious from a three-man playoff at The Memorial Tournament, an event most famous for being the brainchild of PGA Tour and professional sports legend Jack Nicklaus.
With a 1-under 71 on Sunday, the ostentatious 24-year-old Southern Methodist University product DeChambeau captured his second career victory.
Coming at the much-beloved event at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, the win was extra impressive as it was against one of the best fields seen at non-major tournaments.
Despite borderline abysmal play from the tees, DeChambeau was strong enough everywhere else to transmute a small 54-hole lead into a colossal statement.
Joining DeChambeau in the Memorial’s first three-man playoff were two-time Tour winner Kyle Stanley, who birdied 14, 15, 16, and 17 in regulation, and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An.
Seeking his first career PGA Tour win, An, whose marquee achievement was a six-stroke romp at the European Tour’s flagship event three years ago. After an incredible flop shot by An from a difficult lie on the second playoff hole to miraculously save par, DeChambeau calmly sunk a 12-foot birdie putt to preclude a third extra hole.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Bryson DeChambeau -15
2 Byeong Hun An -15
2 Kyle Stanley -15
4 Patrick Cantlay -14
5 Peter Uihlein -13
6 Joaquin Niemann -12
6 Justin Rose -12
8 Dustin Johnson -11
8 Justin Thomas -11
8 Patrick Rodgers -11
8 Rickie Fowler -11
8 Rory McIlroy -11
13 Matt Kuchar -10
13 Phil Mickelson -10
13 Hideki Matsuyama -10
13 Henrik Stenson -10
23 Emiliano Grillo -9
23 Tiger Woods -9
29 Patrick Reed -8
29 Si Woo Kim -8
35 Adam Scott -7
40 Zach Johnson -5
44 Jason Day -4
44 Bubba Watson -4
52 Branden Grace -3
52 Lucas Glover -3
57 Bill Haas -2
62 Marc Leishman -1
1 Dustin Johnson 315.5 (T8)
2 Gary Woodland 308.9 (T23)
3 Tony Finau 306.7 (T13)
4 Bryson DeChambeau 306.3
1 Ryan Moore 89.3% (T13)
2 Henrik Stenson 87.5% (T13)
2 Ryan Armour 87.5% (T23)
58 Bryson DeChambeau 62.5%
1 Byeong Hun An 83.3% (T2)
2 Russell Knox 79.2% (T44)
3 Joaquin Niemann 77.8% (T6)
3 Henrik Stenson 77.8% (T13)
3 Keegan Bradley 77.8% (T23)
12 Bryson DeChambeau 72.2%
HOW BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU WON THE MEMORIAL
Well, DeChambeau did not win with his driver; that’s for sure. A man who usually displays above average driving accuracy (85th on Tour) hit only five fairways on a rushed final day. Still, he did not card his first bogey of the day until the 14th hole.
Tee times were pushed well ahead due to the threat of storms in Central Ohio, with the field going out in threesomes and opposite tees, but DeChambeau looked more than comfortable holding a one-stroke 54-hole lead.
He looked solid on the outward nine, with eight pars to one birdie to reach 15 under, but by the turn, he had been passed by playing partner Patrick Cantlay, who played the same nine in 4-under 32.
Just as it looked like Cantlay might pull away, reaching 17 under with seven holes to go, a slow-play warning appeared to shake him, and he added bogeys on 12, 14, and 17 to fade from the top of the leaderboard.
DeChambeau, meanwhile, birdied 11 and 12, but also fell victim to the difficult closing stretch, adding bogeys on 14 and 18 to fall into the playoff with Stanley and An.
Stanley eliminated himself with a bogey on the first extra hole, setting the stage for a DeChambeau-An showdown, which lasted just one more extra period.
Playing 18 for the third straight hole, DeChambeau’s brilliant approach set up his winning putt, while An’s wayward second forced a par.
For the week, DeChambeau was at his best on and around the greens, finishing first in the field in scrambling, and sixth in strokes gained: putting. Not in the field for next week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, he will tee up again in two weeks at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR DeCHAMBEAU
The Memorial victory puts DeChambeau in the driver’s seat for a roster spot in Paris for this year’s Ryder Cup, as the future first timer soared into the top 8 of the U.S. Team’s standings. He has played excellent all season, with six top 10s in 16 events, including five top-5s.
After posting three top-5 finishes (2nd, T3, T4) in a four-start stretch in the early spring, DeChambeau entered The Memorial off two disappointing finishes – a T37 at THE PLAYERS Championship and a T42 at the Fort Worth Invitational.
He obviously was able to put it back together, and with the hot recent form, he is unlikely to be overlooked for the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. His best finish in three previous U.S. Open starts was a T15 at Oakmont in 2016.
DeChambeau will rise to No. 22 in the Official World Golf Rankings and 4th in the FedExCup standings.
THE BEST TIE FOR 8TH EVER?
We do not have the resources to confirm this absolutely, but the five-way tie for 8th place at The Memorial might be the greatest in golf history, with four of the five ranking inside the world’s top 7.
Among the finishers were World No. 1 Justin Thomas, who was playing in his first career event at the No. 1.
An adventurous back-nine for Thomas, which included an eagle, four birdies, and two bogeys, led to a 4-under 68, matching his score from Saturday. The man Thomas took that spot atop the OWGR from, World No. 2 Dustin Johnson, was one stroke better on Sunday, with a 5-under 67, the best among the T8 club.
World No. 6 Rory McIlroy finished off a sizzling weekend by shooting a 3-under 69 to join the T8 group. The four-time major winner played the weekend in a field-best 11-under par, but had dug himself too big a hole over the first two days to snag his second victory of the season. Rory was the man who finished ahead of DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
World No. 7 Rickie Fowler also got in on the T8 action, matching Thomas’ final round 68. Not scheduled to play next week, Fowler will be going into the U.S. Open in better form than he was when he finished solo-second at The Masters in April.
In the ultimate game of “One of these things, is not the like other”, the fifth golfer in the T8 tie was World No. 148 Patrick Rodgers. Like Thomas and Fowler, Rodgers posted a 68-68 weekend, but unlike those two, he played his Sunday bogey-free. His iron play was not stellar, but he did lead the field for the week in strokes gained: putting.
The entire T8 clan was special on Sunday, but were far from the only round 4 studs in the field.
Among the final top 10 on the leaderboard, the best Sunday round came from relatively anonymous Peter Uihlein, who posted a bogey-free 6-under 66 to end the week in solo-fifth place, the third time this season he has finished in at least a share of fifth.
Uihlein has been among the worst on Tour in driving accuracy this season, but kept himself enough under control at Muirfield Village to place 9th for the week in strokes gained: off-the-tee.
The only golfer in the field to better Uihelin’s 66 was Louis Oosthuizen, who carded eight birdies in a 7-under 65. Reaching 10-under for the week, Oosthuizen finished T13, a whopping 39 spots higher than he was on the leaderboard to begin the final day.
Also going low on Sunday was 2013 Memorial Champion and 2011 runner-up Matt Kuchar. Not coming into the week in his best form, Kuchar proved himself again to be a true horse for the course, shooting a 5-under 67 on Sunday to also finish in a tie for 13th.
Despite a so-so year, Kuchar was still a betting favorite coming into the week, as he had placed T4 in each of the last two Memorial editions.
Muirfield Village no doubt provided an excellent learning experience for young Chilean star Joaquin Niemann, who despite being the youngest player in the field (19 years of age) was the co-leader after the opening two rounds.
However, the man making just his fifth career professional start did not have his best Sunday, as a 1-over 73 was the worst final round among the top 28 on the final leaderboard.
He still managed five birdies on the final day, but was doomed by two bogeys and two doubles. A T6 was Niemann’s third top 10 in those five professional events.
Matching Niemann’s 73 was Adam Scott, who desperately needed a good result to get his world ranking high enough to make the U.S. Open field, a tournament he has not missed in 17 years. After tumbling 24 spots down the final leaderboard for a T35, Scott will have to find another route to Shinnecock Hills.
The biggest drop on the Sunday leaderboard came from Wesley Bryan, who played his final 10 holes in 7-over to shoot a 5-over 77 and drop 41 spots from T11 to T52.
Bryan had hopes that he finally had emerged from a recent funk, where a T42 and a T71 were his only made cuts in his last nine events. For the season, Bryan, who played well enough to make last season’s BMW Championship, the penultimate round of the FedExCup Playoffs, has just one top 30 finish: a T27 at the 32-man Sentry Tournament of Champions back in early January.
Tiger Woods has traditionally dominated Muirfield Village, winning The Memorial five times, making him the all-time event leader in victories.
If it had been known coming into the week that Tiger would lead the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green, most would have bet on him capturing win No. 6. Tiger did lead the field tee to green, yet only finished a disappointing T23 after an underwhelming final round even-par 72.
Tiger’s big nemesis this week, surprisingly, was his own putter. He could not figure anything out on the greens, finishing 72nd in the field in strokes gained: putting, a stat he was 32nd on Tour in before this week.
He was especially awful on short putts this week, missing a shocking seven from inside five feet. The flat stick will likely be a prime focus in practice for Tiger, as he preps for his next start: the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, where he hopes to end a 10-year majorless drought.
“It’s an honor. I can’t believe I did it today. I knew I was struggling with my ball-striking all week; I was putting great, wedging it great around the greens, and was fortunate enough to somehow get it back into play and get up-and-down on pretty much every hole, so that was really nice.”