The toughest test in golf – the U.S. Open – dished out its regular carnage this year, eviscerating 143 of the world’s best golfers. Winged Foot Golf Club, the host venue, undoubtedly proved itself a worthy U.S. Open course once again.
Unfortunately for Winged Foot, there were 144 golfers in the field.
Bryson DeChambeau was absolutely brilliant over the four days of the U.S. Open, winning his first major by six strokes over U.S. Open rookie Matthew Wolff. DeChambeau shot a final-round 3-under 67, the only under-par round in the Sunday field. He was also the only player to finish under par: he was 6-under, 11 strokes better than the winning score the last time the event was held at Winged Foot.
A major has looked imminent for a while now for the man who turned 27 this week. DeChambeau came into the week with six career victories and a world No. 9 ranking. He was hot just before and just after the three month COVID layoff, posting seven consecutive top-8 finishes at one point this past season, a stretch that culminated with a victory at July’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
His form had taken a dive since that Michigan victory, though. In his final six starts of the 2020 season, he missed two cuts, had a T30, a solo 50th, and was 22nd at the 30-man Tour Championship. The exception, however, was a T4 at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, the first time DeChambeau has been in serious contention at a major. His performance at Harding Park gave him optimism that he could put it together at a major. And he did, about as immaculately as anyone in recent memory.
The SMU product from California got into contention at Winged Foot immediately with an opening round of 1-under 69. He was a stroke better on Friday, finishing with an eagle. An even-par third round had him as one of just three players going into Sunday under par. He was at 3-under, two strokes back of the 21-year-old Wolff, who nabbed most of the Saturday headlines. His Sunday 67 meant four rounds of even-par or better. Nobody else had more than two.
While Winged Foot was taking victims from the start on Sunday, DeChambeau began his round calmly and composed; very much not like a player who had never been in the final pairing of a major before. He first took the co-lead when he birdied the par-4 fourth. He took the solo-lead one hole later when Wolff carded his second bogey over the first five holes. DeChambeau would never relinquish that lead.
The par-5 ninth hole is what really established the U.S. Open as a two-man race. Coming off what would be his only bogey of the day, a brilliant eagle on 9 put DeChambeau up by three. Just moments later, that lead would be back to one, as Wolff matched with an eagle of his own. At 5-under for the tournament, only he and Wolff were under par, with the next closest players at the turn being the duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Xander Schauffele at even-par. But given that Oosthuizen and Schauffele have been heavyweights in the majors, DeChambeau knew he couldn’t get too comfortable.
Wolff would then bogey 10, shortly before DeChambeau birdied 11. Suddenly, DeChambeau was up by three again. Wolff would not get the lead back so quickly this time, as he showed considerable frustration with his game down the stretch. After Wolff double-bogeyed the par-4 16th, DeChambeau was up by six with two holes to go, and the tournament was all but over. He parred 17 and 18 to put the finishing touches on his first career major championship victory.
Wolff, who had been attempting to become the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win the U.S. Open in his first start, finishing second at even-par. The Oklahoma State product tied DeChambeau with a T4 last month at the PGA Championship.
DeChambeau has become an exceptionally polarizing figure in the game of golf. His reputation of being a “scientist” of the game dominates the talk in his events, but it cannot be disputed how much work he puts into being great. He has added 50lbs of muscle in the past two years to be longest driver of the ball the game has ever seen, and it has paid more than its fair share of dividends. It was the perfect move for him to make given the current state of golf. And he has the game on the greens to match.
After DeChambeau and Wolff, the top 10 was fairly predictable given recent history. Oosthuizen, who has finished runner-up in each of the four majors, finished third. He is still looking for his first victory in the US.
Schauffele’s fifth place was his fourth finish of T6 or better in just four US Open starts. Dustin Johnson has been on absolute fire as the world No. 1 and his T6 was his SIXTH top 10 in a major in the last three years without a win, and Tony Finau finishing T8 was his SEVENTH top 10 in a major in the last three years without a win. Finau is also looking for his first win in the U.S.
Final Top 10 Leaders
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Bryson DeChambeau -6 (-3)
2. Matthew Wolff E (+5)
3. Louis Oosthuizen +2 (+3)
4. Harris English +3 (+3)
5. Xander Schauffele +4 (+4)
6. Dustin Johnson +5 (E)
6. Will Zalatoris +5 (+1)
8. Tony Finau +6 (+1)
8. Justin Thomas +6 (+2)
8. Webb Simpson +6 (+3)
8. Zach Johnson +6 (+4)
8. Rory McIlroy +6 (+5)
13. Patrick Reed +7 (+4)
17. Paul Casey +8 (+3)
17. Hideki Matsuyama +8 (+8)
23. Jon Rahm +10 (+3)
31. Bubba Watson +12 (+7)
34. Daniel Berger +13 (+6)
38. Jason Day +14 (+2)
38. Adam Scott +14 (+5)
43. Shane Lowry +15 (+2)
43. Patrick Cantlay +15 (+3)
49. Rickie Fowler +17 (+9)
How Bryson DeChambeau Won The U.S. Open
Posting twice as many rounds of 70 or better than anyone else in the field helped Bryson DeChambeau greatly. He’d been up and down in recent months, but his best has been phenomenal.
The California native absolutely destroys the ball off the tees – so much that he is essentially guaranteeing an old age filled with difficulty doing daily tasks, but he is driving the ball in a way that the Tour has never seen. He also has continuously been stellar scrambling, and he does not seem to miss a clutch putt. It really feels like a star was born this week.
DeChambeau’s Winning Stats
Driving: 311.10 yards (7th)
Fairways: 41.07% (23/56) (26th)
Greens: 63.89% (46/72) (5th)
Putting: 1.61 (11th)
Birdies: 13 (4th)
Scores: 2 Eagles, 13 Birdies, 46 Pars, 11 Bogeys
Off the Tee: 5.38 (3rd)
Approach: 6.98 (3rd)
Around the Green: 5.42 (2nd)
Putting: 4.59 (18th)
Total: 22.37 (1st)
What It Means For DeChambeau
With the victory, Bryson DeChambeau moved from 9th in the world rankings to 5th, and is right on the heels of Rory McIlroy to get even higher.
The Tour should be worried that the floodgates just opened. After DeChambeau got his first Tour victory at the 2017 John Deere Classic, he followed with three wins the following season. Now that he has a major? He is guaranteed to be among the top 3-5 in betting odds for every upcoming major.
He also joined a list with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win the U.S. Amateur, the NCAA Individual Championship, and the U.S. Open. Some super-casual golf fans might not have been familiar with DeChambeau before this week, but nobody does not know who Nicklaus and Tiger are. That is one impressive group to be lumped in with.
DeChambeau’s 2021 Season
Wins: 1 (U.S. Open)
Money: $2,250,000 (1st)
FedExCup: 600 (1st)
OWGR Points: 100 (5th)
DeChambeau was the only player in the field to finish under par, but three players finished AT even par. The most significant was Dustin Johnson, who had finished T2-WIN-2-WIN in his previous four starts, arguably the most dominant stretch in his 23-win PGA Tour career.
However, a backdoor T6 is considered a disappointment for him if anything. He continues to be way too productive and talented to only have one career major championship victory. At 36 years of age, he risks being at the top of “what could have been” lists. He was T21 to being the final round.
Will Zalatoris may have reached “a star is born” territory at Winged Foot. The Korn Ferry Tour star aced the par-3 seventh hole in the first round, and very nearly aced the par-3 13th hole as well.
Zalatoris showed the significance of the PGA Tour’s best minor league this week, and at T6 for the tournament established himself as one of the biggest upcoming threats. This was a tremendous week for him with a 1-over 71 on Sunday.
Canada might not have a large amount of up-and-comers, but Taylor Pendrith made a name for himself this week. He shot one of the three even-par 70s on Sunday (Johnson and South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen were the others), and at 10-over, he finished in the T23 mix.
The 29-year-old Pendrith is a Kent State grad has been a walking injury, but has put up impressive numbers on the Mackenzie Tour.
Hideki Matsuyama is an iron game wizard who played well enough to make the penultimate Sunday pairing this week, but he completely collapsed in the final round.
Opening with a double-bogey, the the 28-year-old played the first four holes in 5-over and couldn’t recover. Looking for his first victory since the 2017 season, where he won thrice, Matsuyama shot an 8-over 78 and dropped all the way to T17.
Rafa Cabrera Bello has struggled badly in 2020, but surprisingly got himself into the leadership mix with a strong first two rounds. However, he followed a third-round 74 with a Sunday 78 to finish T23 and put himself firmly in “what happened to him?” territory.
The suave Spaniard also played the first four holes in +5 and fell behind world No. 2 Jon Rahm among the native from Spain.
Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup winner was an absolute disaster on Sunday. By carding bogeys on 7 holes among his back nine, he shot a 10-over 80 an dropped from T17 to T38. The only player to fall further on Sunday was Belgium’s Thomas Detry who dropped 22 spots with a Sunday 11-over 81.
“Needed To Keep Focus…”
“It’s kind of interesting. On nine, first thought this could be a reality. I made that long eagle putt, and shocked myself by making it too, and I thought to myself I could do it and immediately, I said ‘Nope, you’ve got to focus on each hole’, and I just kept throughout the back nine telling myself Nope, we have three holes, four holes, whatever it was, I needed to keep focus and execute each shot the best I could.”
– Bryson DeChambeau, US Open Champion