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Shriners win puts DeChambeau among best - period

Bryson DeChambeau at the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Getty Images

When the Bryson DeChambeau fist pump made its PGA Tour debut at last year's John Deere Classic, it was seen as a welcome bit of confirmation for a scientific novelty.

When it re-appeared this summer at the Memorial, it was about ushering in a quick study to a new echelon among the Tour's best.

And when it reared its head Sunday at TPC Summerlin, just after DeChambeau buried a 57-foot eagle putt to put the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open away, it served as further proof that the mad scientist is here to stay.

In the span of five short months, DeChambeau has elevated himself from a possible flash in the pan with some quirky analytics to a player who now occupies some rarefied air in the world rankings. With his one-shot win over Patrick Cantlay at TPC Summerlin, he moved past Rory McIlroy to a career-best fifth in the world.

It's a far cry from the rocky road that DeChambeau took after turning pro, struggling to turn amateur accolades into professional success. It's even a different plateau than the one he occupied before a pair of playoff wins led to a Ryder Cup appearance.

DeChambeau has now won four times in the past 12 starts on Tour, a conversion rate that would be the envy of any of his peers. And with five career Tour titles, he's equaled the PGA Tour haul of Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Webb Simpson while surging past his Cobra cohort, Rickie Fowler.

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"I thought I had it in me, but I didn't know I could do it," DeChambeau told reporters. "Last year I saw some signs of something great, and I didn't know what it meant. Didn't know where it would lead me. It certainly led me I think in the right direction so far."

When it comes to DeChambeau, the quirks never end. From the single-length irons to his recently banned compass on the greens, he works every angle to find an advantage over the field. Even earlier this week, he explained that he plans to putt with the flagstick in beginning in 2019 under revised USGA rules, citing the coefficient of restitution of the pin in the most DeChambeau way possible.

But the jokes and sneers about his uniquely scientific approach quieted months ago. Now he's just a player, and a good one at that, who is currently torching the Tour.

While Koepka was a deserved Player of the Year last season, DeChambeau is the only player with four worldwide wins in 2018. The latest came after he staved off a late rally from the defending champ, Patrick Cantlay, and added to his highlight reel with a delicate putt from off the fringe that seemed to have a magnet for the hole over the final 20 feet.

"Just held straight that last little bit and was able to trickle in," DeChambeau said. "I haven't given a reaction like that in a while. That was pretty cool."

Perhaps DeChambeau's memory is a little foggy, since an animated reaction en route to victory is becoming something of a norm these days. And at this point there's no reason to expect his trophy collection won't keep growing.

Once a player whose unusual tactics raised eyebrows, DeChambeau is proving himself to be one of the best in the world - no qualifiers required.

"I think I'm playing great golf right now. Certainly playing the best I've ever played in my life," DeChambeau said. "Hopefully it continues upward."