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Bryson DeChambeau the “mad scientist” is now a major champion after winning the US Open Championship with a stunning closing round of 67.
DeChambeau the most changed golfer this season and probably since Tiger Woods and his swing changes due to injury put on 20 kgs over the offseason. The result meant that he was able to bulk on some muscle and his driving distance increased 15 – 20 metres. The flip side to driving the ball further also meant that he would be hitting shorter irons into greens and this was on full display this week at Winged Foot.
He started the day behind overnight leader Matthew Wolff by 2 shots, who was the eventual runner-up, but by the 4th was tied. By the next hole, DeChambeau was in the lead by himself and he never looked back.
Wolff tried to stay close to DeChambeau and traded eagles on the 9th hole but bogeyed the 10th hole to drop two strokes back. DeChambeau birdied the 11th hole after making the putt short of the green. As Wolff stumbled on the way in DeChambeau was solid making all pars and winning by 6 shots. DeChambeau was the only player on the final day to finish under par, an achievement on such a hard golf course.
DeChambeau was the only winner in history to only hit 41% of fairways for the week and still win the tournament. It was his seventh PGA TOUR win and first major.
“I think I'm definitely changing the way people think about the game,” DeChambeau said. “Now, whether you can do it, that's a whole different situation. There's a lot of people that are going to be hitting it far. Matthew was hitting it plenty far today.
“A couple of putts just didn't go in for him today and kept the momentum on my side.”
After DeChambeau win a few players were asked about how he managed to do it.
“Everyone talked about hitting fairways out here,” said Xander Schauffele (74, 4 over, solo fifth). “It's not about hitting fairways. It's about hitting on the correct side of the hole and hitting it far so you can kind of hit a wedge instead of a 6-iron out of the rough.
“Yeah, he's sort of trending in the new direction of golf,” Schauffele added, “and he said he wanted to do everything he's doing, and yeah, happy for him. He's playing unbelievable.”
“No chance,” said Rory McIlroy (75, T8), when asked if he could have foreseen a player hitting so few fairways and winning. “I don't really know what to say because that's just the complete opposite of what you think a U.S. Open champion does.
“Look, he's found a way to do it,” McIlroy added. “Whether that's good or bad for the game, I don't know, but it's just – it's not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It's kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”
DeChambeau also tied for fifth in greens in regulation and tied for 11th in putting.
The putting, in particular, has been a long time coming for the winner.
“The putting has gradually improved over the course of my career,” DeChambeau said. “I was dead last when I came out on TOUR, and the SIK guys, SIK golf, they helped me understand how a ball needs to roll in order to give me the best chance to hole a putt.
“Over the course of these four years, every year I've gotten a little bit better,” he added.