DeChambeau tops Bard, 7 and 6, in U.S. Am final

By Ryan LavnerAugust 24, 2015, 1:58 am

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Bryson DeChambeau was thrashing around deep in the trees, dancing around poison ivy leaves, wondering how The Machine had malfunctioned.

For the first time all week, his face was flush with frustration. His normally reliable swing had abandoned him at a few critical junctures. His lead had dwindled, from a possible 4-up advantage before lunch to a 1-up lead as he walked off the 19th green. And his caddie/longtime coach had retired to the clubhouse training room, sidelined with plantar fasciitis and a half-dollar-sized blister on his foot.

“Every single shot out there, I kept telling myself that I was good enough,” DeChambeau said. “Just keep playing your style of golf.”

Sticking with what he calls “Bryson Golf” – rhythm, momentum, feel – DeChambeau ripped off seven wins in a nine-hole span to storm past Derek Bard and win this U.S. Amateur in a rout, 7 and 6, the most lopsided result in 16 years.

DeChambeau, a 21-year-old senior at SMU, became only the fifth player to win the NCAA individual title and U.S. Amateur in the same season.

“I can’t even imagine what I just did,” he said. “It won’t sink in for the next couple of days, but I’m honored.”

This appeared like a mismatch from the outset, and DeChambeau only highlighted the disparity between the two players by kicking his game into high gear over the final 90 minutes at Olympia Fields.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


With his lead cut to only 1 up after a sloppy double bogey before lunch and a lost hole from the trees on the 19th, DeChambeau demoralized Bard with three consecutive birdies and four other won holes. Before long, it was over.

“The thing about Bryson that you really have to understand is that there is absolutely no quit in him,” said his coach and caddie Mike Schy, who forfeited the bag to one of DeChambeau’s former teammates, Brooks Price, at the turn. “There will be no quit until you have to drag him off the course. He was always going to right the ship.”

Five days of national-television exposure have made clear what the rankings do not: DeChambeau is the best amateur in the world, a part-mad scientist, part-artist who can mow down opponents with machine-like efficiency.

That’s been the goal, after all, ever since the curious 15-year-old began studying Homer Kelly’s “The Golfing Machine,” a teaching manual that allows a player to build his own swing with 24 components and 144 variations.

“At times it was a bit scary, because he wanted to try things,” Schy said, “but it wasn’t drugs or anything. It was just a golf swing.” 

The swing DeChambeau built is unorthodox looking, with high hands at address and little wrist cock at the top, but it’s steady and, most importantly, easily repeatable. Including the usual match-play concessions, DeChambeau played his 103 holes here on a U.S. Open setup in 19 under par; Bard was 9 over.

“I’ve never seen somebody hit the ball so solid and so straight and have such control of his swing like he does,” said his coach at SMU, Jason Enloe, a former Tour player. “His swing hasn’t changed in three years, and it only gets better because it keeps getting refined. He’s basically a Tour player playing in college.”

From DeChambeau’s unique swing to his Hogan-style hat to his custom equipment to his physics background, it’s obvious that we’re witnessing the emergence of a different kind of star.

His clubs are unlike any you’ll find on a Tour range: TaylorMade driver and fairway woods; Edel irons and wedges that are cut to the same 6-iron length (37 1/2 inches) with the same lie angle and Jumbo Maxx XL grips; and an Edel torque-balanced custom putter.

Instead of attending a player barbecue this week, DeChambeau stayed back and soaked his golf balls in Epsom salt to determine which were out of balance (about four out of every dozen).

And when asked what he likes to do in his free time, the college senior didn’t immediately answer that he hangs out with friends or attends sporting events or tears up downtown Dallas. No, he offered this: “I like to write cursive backward and left-handed.”

Huh?

“I do these sorts of things to keep my mind off of golf and to help my fine motor skills with my hands, create more sensitivity and increase my brainpower,” he said.

Odd, yes, but it’s hard to argue with the results.

Yet how DeChambeau arrived here, posing next to the Havemeyer Trophy, is more a story of curiosity and self-discovery.

Josh Gregory had just accepted the head-coaching job at SMU when he received a tip from another coach: There was a quirky kid in Northern California that he absolutely had to see.

“I’ve never done this in my life,” Gregory recalled Sunday, “but I cold-called him. I said, ‘Bryson, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow to come watch you at Torrey Pines (for the Junior Worlds) and I’m going to offer you a full scholarship.’”

DeChambeau was confused.

“But I don’t even know who you are,” he said.

“I know,” Gregory replied, “but I’m coming to watch you and only you, because I hear you’re special.”

Gregory watched DeChambeau at Torrey Pines and was blown away by a player he called “the biggest sleeper in the country, ever.”

“I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, this guy is one of the best ball-strikers I’ve ever seen,’” Gregory said. “I thought his swing was extremely weird, but I tried not to watch how it looked. I just looked at his ball flight and knew I’d never seen anything look that good. The ball made the most incredible sound.”

Gregory saw DeChambeau again at the California State Junior before earning his commitment. When Gregory asked why he had chosen to come to Dallas, DeChambeau replied: “Because your call was the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. Because you were the only coach who let me be me. Everyone else wanted to change me.”

Said Gregory: “I like a kid that’s a little different and outside the box, a kid that has a little attitude on him, because you have to have that to be great. He didn’t care that he was different. He thinks it’s right for him, and he owns his game.”

Gregory’s faith was rewarded, of course, but only after DeChambeau endured a few painful years of near misses and self-doubt.

Though he racked up top-five finishes at a startling rate, he struggled to control his emotions when things went awry. Never was he worse than at the 2013 NCAA regionals, where DeChambeau broke 80 only once in three tries.

“Emotionally, he was a wreck,” Gregory said. “It was a come-to-Jesus moment that his emotions weren’t under control. That was rock bottom.”

DeChambeau showed improvement during his sophomore season, but he was still too hard on himself, lamenting runner-up finishes and staying on the range late at night and calling Schy or Gregory at midnight just because he needed to talk through what he was feeling.

The turning point came at the Western Amateur last summer, when DeChambeau lost a match because of an improbable 30-footer that slammed off the back of the cup. He wasn't upset. He was relieved. 

“Coach, I’ve got it,” he told Gregory through tears. “I’ve finally figured it out. My attitude is what’s been holding me back.”

It didn’t sink in for Gregory – who left the SMU program last summer – until he watched DeChambeau’s match against British Open star Paul Dunne in the quarterfinals.

Scrambling to get back into the match, Dunne holed a big-breaking 30-footer on the 15th hole that could have trimmed his 3-down deficit.

The camera then panned to DeChambeau – and he never flinched. A few moments later, he poured in an 8-footer right on top of Dunne and went on to win, 3 and 2.

“One of the coolest moments that I’ve ever seen,” Gregory said.

The disappointment at the Western Am gave DeChambeau perspective. The victory at the NCAAs in June gave him belief. And now the U.S. Amateur has given him the sense that his potential is limitless.

In the past few months, he has received plenty of TV time, whether it was at the NCAAs, two PGA Tour events or here at the Amateur. Many have commented on his pace of play – he figures to live on the clock at the pro level – but Enloe predicts that DeChambeau will be a “fan favorite” once he hits the Tour next summer.  

The kid has big aspirations too, saying that he hopes to “revolutionize the game of golf in a unique way.”

“There’s a bunch of different ways to play the game of golf,” he said. “You don’t need to play it one way. It doesn’t need to be one swing that’s perfect out there.”

DeChambeau has proved that. Intelligence, quirkiness and strong belief are a scary combination.

Getty Images

Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

Getty Images

Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.