No one could have predicted the outcome of the U.S Open, not even if they tried. And even while it happened, it was impossible to believe.
As his rivals crumbled around him, one of America’s most polarising golf figures solidly surged to the top of the US Open leaderboard.
Ninth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau grinded out everything he had to capture his first major golf title last Sunday, firing a three-under-par 67 to win the 120th US Open and humble a relentless Winged Foot layout. The scientist found a major-winning formula.
DeChambeau, who spent a three-month coronavirus pandemic layoff building his physique, uses same-length clubs and a chart book for judging putts, bringing some slow-play complaints but also six prior PGA Tour victories. On Saturday night, he was the last player to leave Winged Foot, working into the dark with his driver.
"Sure enough it paid off," he said.
"I'm in shock right now. It's amazing." The 27-year-old American, who bulked up during the coronavirus lockdown in a bid to add power to his game, eagled the par-5 ninth from just inside 40 feet and rolled to a six-stroke victory over 21-year-old countryman Matthew Wolff.
“I drove it pretty well considering the wind conditions,” DeChambeau said. “It wasn’t easy to do out there. I did it when I needed it most. I felt really comfortable”. “That was a fun way to finish off at a US Open.
It feels great,” he said. “Confidence is at an all-time high right now”. Typical deep US Open rough could not stop DeChambeau, whose exercise and protein shakes delivered powerful drives while his calculations and precise readings produced solid shotmaking on a layout that crushed rivals.
"I just kept thinking throughout the back nine, 'We have to keep focused. I have to execute every shot the best I can.' And that's what I did," he said. DeChambeau's 325 yards off the tee was a driving distance record by a US Open champion, defying convention by attacking without fear, taking swing speed length to outweigh drawbacks of finding the rough.
"Oh my gosh. I can't believe it," said DeChambeau, renowned for his scientific approach to the sport. "It has been a lot of hard work." DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but finished 72 holes on six-under par 274 thanks to Sunday's only sub-par round at the formidable Mamaroneck, New York, layout.
DeChambeau became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the final round, and just the fourth ever to do it, completing a dominating performance. "I worked my whole life for this," DeChambeau said.
"I wasn't that afraid of going off line. I gained the confidence I needed for the week." Justin Thomas did not have much fun at Winged Foot. "Tough golf course," Johnson said. "I gave myself enough chances, but I just didn't putt well enough."
Third-ranked American Justin Thomas finished on 286 to share eighth in a pack with fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, who closed with a 75. “I was far from having good stuff out there,” he said. “That was a gruelling day.
I cannot drive it like that this weekend”. Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner, and five-time major champion Phil Mickelson both missed the cut for only the second time in the same event after last year’s British Open.
Woods fired a 77 to finish on 150 while Mickelson shot a 74 to finish on 153. “It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend,” Woods said. Mickelson added: “I enjoy the challenge this course provides. I’m disappointed I didn’t play better”.