DeChambeau to delay sr. year, focus on Masters

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Reigning NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau told GolfChannel.com on Tuesday night that he is leaving the SMU men's golf team and will focus on preparing for the Masters.

"To best prepare myself for the next six months of competition and future events, I felt it was appropriate to make this decision now to be fair to my coaches and team," he said. 

DeChambeau's senior season was turned upside down two weeks ago when the NCAA sanctioned the SMU men’s golf program for recruiting and ethical violations under former head coach Josh Gregory. Among the penalties: A postseason ban for both team and individual play for this season, meaning DeChambeau would be unable to defend his title next June in Eugene, Ore.

The school announced last week that it was appealing the sanctions. A final decision by the NCAA is expected before the end of the regular season.

“Bryson has meant so much to the SMU program the last three years,” SMU coach Jason Enloe said. “I am so excited for him and all the opportunities that he has ahead of him. Bryson will do great things in the professional ranks and I am looking forward to watching him.”

DeChambeau, who became only the fifth player to win the NCAAs and U.S. Amateur in the same year, is exempt into the first three majors of 2016 by virtue of his U.S. Am title. If he were to turn pro before the Masters, he would forfeit those exemptions.   

The expectation is that DeChambeau, 22, will turn pro after the Masters, then try and secure the maximum seven sponsor exemptions allowed to non-PGA Tour members. He said that he intends to complete his physics degree at a future date. 

“SMU, my coaches and the athletic department have been incredibly supportive of my decision and I owe them a great debt of gratitude for all of their support,” he said.

DeChambeau plans to play the Nov. 5-8 Argentina Open and Nov. 26-29 Australian Open.

With DeChambeau out of the lineup, SMU won its first tournament of the year last week at the Erin Hills Intercollegiate. It was the Mustangs' first event following the NCAA sanctions.