DUBLIN, Ohio — Unorthodox, unconventional, and unusual are adjectives used to describe Bryson DeChambeau’s methods on the golf course.
Critics might be wise to add the word successful to their vocabulary.
Bryson DeChambeau kisses the trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
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The 24-year-old defeated Byeong Hun An and Kyle Stanley in a playoff Sunday to win the Memorial Tournament. The victory is DeChambeau’s second on the PGA Tour and further corroborates his swing and golf club beliefs.
“It's just nice to have some validity to it,” he said. “Everybody’s got their own way, and I’m certainly a little unique in the way I play the game. And I’m still fighting through a couple little things here and there on if it’s really right or not in regards to swing theory.”
DeChambeau employs a single-plane swing and single-length irons, with each club being the length of a 6-iron. The idiosyncrasies have garnered rolled eyes and curiosity. DeChambeau had a stellar amateur career, becoming the fifth golfer in history to win the NCAA individual national championship and U.S. Amateur in the same year, joining Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Moore.
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He tied for 21st at the Masters and 15th at the U.S. Open as an amateur, and DeChambeau won the John Deere Classic in his first full season on Tour. Any lingering doubts about his technique should be cleansed.
“Look, people think that all the stuff that I do is insane, it's crazy,” said DeChambeau, who’s more comfortable discussing physics than golf clubs. “There's a lot of variables that go along, but all we're trying to do is take the complex, which is this golf environment, and make it simple. Quantify it down to where I can say, ‘All right, it's just a 155-yard shot.’ That's it.”
Said Nicklaus: “You wait and see. He wins a few more tournaments, you’ll find out how many people have sets with clubs the same length. I just guarantee it.”
Twelve golfers have led by one stroke entering the final round this season. DeChambeau, who slept on the 54-hole lead for the first time in his career, became just the third to win. He did it by hitting only five fairways all day on a golf course that was the toughest on Tour in 2017 in up-and-down percentage.
“Grinded it out,” said DeChambeau, who defeated An with a birdie on the second playoff hole.
Stanley was eliminated on the first hole, when he bogeyed and DeChambeau and An parred.
It took three times, but DeChambeau finally mastered the tricky par-4 No. 18, sinking an 11-foot birdie putt for the win. All he needed on the 72nd hole was a par to clinch the tournament. A three-putt, capped by a missed 7-footer, meant extra holes.
DeChambeau missed the green from the 18th fairway on the first playoff hole and scrambled for a par, as did An. Stanley missed a par chip by a fraction. An’s approach shot on the second playoff hole sailed long and left over the green on No. 18, putting DeChambeau in the driver’s seat. He responded by hitting his approach shot within 12 feet, then made the birdie to win.
“This definitely gives me confidence,” said An, the 2009 U.S. Amateur champion, who closed with a 69 and was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s. “If I keep giving myself a chance, then I think I will have a win soon.”
Stanley made four consecutive birdies to share the lead with DeChambeau on the 72nd hole, a remarkable turnaround after being five back on the 14th tee. But his tee shot there ricocheted off a tree into thick rough leading to a bogey.
“It was up-and-down,” said Stanley, who shot a 2-under-par 70. “After [hitting in the water on No.] 12, my chances were looking pretty slim. I’m happy with the way I hung in there. Pretty sour way to end the tournament, but all in all I feel like I did a lot of good things this week.”
During his trying rookie season, DeChambeau missed 15 cuts. Negative thoughts permeated through his head, which usually is reserved for probability, statistics, and all sorts of physics that are unfamiliar to the general public.
What they saw Sunday looked familiar: A golfer in control of his game winning the tournament.
“I can’t believe I did it,” DeChambeau said.
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