DeChambeau tames Wolff and brutal
American’s gamble to pile on pounds pays off with first major McIlroy left stunned by tactics as rival wins by six shots
The great Bryson DeChambeau experiment was last night confirmed as an overwhelming and qualified success. The American piled on the pounds, gained all the yards and, as the US Open champion, accumulated $2.25million (£1.7million) and his lifelong dream.
Whatever anyone says about the 27-year-old – and much of it is not complimentary – nobody can deny that when he puts his studious mind to something, he spectacularly achieves.
The Mad Scientist… The Incredible Bulk… the 2020 US Open champion. Of all his monikers, only one matters now to DeChambeau.
He began the final round at brutal Winged Foot two off his 21-year-old countryman Matthew Wolff and on a day when the New York layout flashed its most severe fangs so DeChambeau clinically delivered, prevailing by six on six under, as the only player under par.
Wolff finished on level par following a 75, while South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen was third on two over after a 73.
This was America’s 11th success in the past 13 majors and is the first time they have won 10 majors in succession on US soil in more than 40 years. The records were joyously being worked out all night in New York.
DeChambeau always has threatened to be a one-man revolution, famously having his clubs cut to the same size, having a one-plane swing and using protractors to ascertain exact yardages. Yet his mission to put on 40lb of bulk over lockdown to establish himself as the biggest hitter in the game has been the unlikely venture to pay off most significantly.
Nobody overpowers Winged Foot. Until DeChambeau got out his beloved yardage book and flexed his muscles, that is.
Consider that his three-under 67 was the only one under-par in the final round and then discover that this was the first time a US Open champion had enjoyed this distinction in 65 years. And then release the quality of this performance to win his first major.
No, DeChambeau is not widely admired because of his speed of play – tortoise-like – and his sometime attitude – diva-like. But this can still be regarded as one of the most remarkable final rounds at one of the game’s most challenging tests. And with the game’s governing bodies currently deciding whether to rein back the ball, this could one day also be thought of as one of the most important.
DeChambeau has everything planned out so meticulously that he even made sure to check that the US Open trophy’s lid would not fall off before he lifted it.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my sponsors,” was his first line in the prize-giving, endearing himself to (almost) nobody. “It’s just an honour and I don’t know what else to say,” he added after reeling off all his sponsor’s names. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
With Wolff slipping to three bogeys in his first eight holes, DeChambeau was one ahead on the ninth tee. This was a big moment. Wolff drove it 390 yards and DeChambeau 380 yards. They both had wedges to the green and when Wolff hit his approach to 10 feet it seemed game on. But DeChambeau holed his 35-footer for an eagle, before Wolff followed him in.
From there, DeChambeau went to another gear, birdieing the 11th and
Socially distant: Bryson DeChambeau is congratulated by his parents via video link
Triumphant: Bryson DeChambeau celebrates with the US Open trophy double-bogey six The world No4’s challenge was over there and then and it all seemed depressingly familiar. So much for the “Nappy Factor”, affording McIlroy the renowned upturn in his form that a surprisingly high percentage of new fathers enjoy in professional golf.
There is seven weeks to the Masters, where McIlroy will again have the opportunity to complete the career grand slam. DeChambeau might just have made that task more difficult still.
Oosthuizen concurred. “He’s setting his own little way of playing,” he said. “He’s hitting it so far, he’s so strong out of the rough and he’s one of the best putters. That all adds up to a lot of trouble for the rest of us.”
‘Whether it’s good for the game, I don’t know, but it’s not the way I saw the course being played’