DeChambeau follows unique path to NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerJune 2, 2015, 1:40 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau didn’t see the dramatic ending here at Concession. Didn’t need to, because the roar at 18 told him all he needed to know.

After making birdie on his 71st hole, after wandering around the clubhouse for more than an hour to see if his 8-under total would stand up, after bolting for the practice area because couldn’t bear to watch another second as Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan charged up the NCAA leaderboard, DeChambeau took his cue from the crowd.

OoooooooOOOOOOOohhhhhhhhhh …

About 300 yards away, Pan’s pin-seeking bunker shot scared the hole and gave the crowd a thrill, but his rally ultimately fell one shot shy. 

“That did it,” DeChambeau, 21, said on the range, listening to the polite applause.

The waiting game was mercifully over, and DeChambeau, the eccentric 26th-ranked player in the world, had won the NCAA Championship for the biggest title of his career.

“That’s when the emotions flooded out,” he said. 

It’s probably obvious to any viewer that the SMU junior does things his own way.

He majors in physics.

He wears a Ben Hogan-style hat.

He uses a push cart.

He employs something called Vector Putting, which takes into account length of putt, percentage of slope and speed of the green.

He plays with a torque-balanced putter that keeps his stroke square to the plane.

All of his irons, 3-iron through wedge, are the same length (37 1/2 inches). Apparently, it’s easier for him to retain the same posture, which allows him to swing the same way, to keep everything constant. 

That’s useful under pressure, and there were plenty of tense moments Monday as a half dozen players took their best shot at him during the final 90 minutes of stroke play at NCAAs.

Vanderbilt’s Hunter Stewart shot 68 but ran out of holes. Illinois’ Thomas Detry had a three-putt bogey on the par-5 13th that derailed his momentum. But it was Pan, the most prolific winner in Washington history, who gave DeChambeau the biggest scare. The diminutive senior birdied six of his last 12 holes.

“I was aggressive,” he said.

DeChambeau played fearlessly too, making eagle on his third hole of the day, the drivable 12th, after pounding a 317-yard tee shot to 3 feet. He also shook off a double on 18 with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 3 and 4.

His decisive blow came at the par-4 eighth. After a smoked 3-wood left him only 105 yards to the hole, he hit a 55-degree wedge to the back of the green, then spun his ball back to within 3 feet.

“He’s the best ball-striker in college for sure,” SMU coach Jason Enloe said. “Possibly top 20 in the world, like, you could put him against any ball-striker playing for a living. He’d be right there with those guys.”

How’d he learn his unique action?

When Bryson was 15, his coach, Mike Schy, gave him a book called “The Golfing Machine.” It’s a teaching manual, with 24 components and 144 variations. A player basically builds his own swing, and it was perfect for DeChambeau’s analytical mind.

“It’s very efficient, steady, not a lot goes wrong with it,” he said of his swing, “and I’m able to repeat my motion quite frequently because of it.”

Enloe wasn’t surprised by this breakthrough. The coach has walked each round with DeChambeau since the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in early March, when he closed with 66. After that, he has only once finished outside the top 5. This was his second victory of the season.

“Sometimes he wonders why he doesn’t win more, and it just hasn’t been his time,” Enloe said. “I was like, ‘Dude, your B-plus game is going to win a lot of times out here.’ His bad is most people’s good.”

And his good, clearly, is more than enough to win arguably the best amateur tournament in the world. 

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.