Bryson DeChambeau, who won his first PGA TOUR title at last year’s John Deere Classic, will be back to defend it the week of July 9-15.
DeChambeau holed a clutch 14-foot putt on the 18th hole to shoot a 6-under par 65 in the final round, including a 30 on the back nine, to win in come-from-behind fashion at TPC Deere Run.
In addition to the winner’s check of more than $1 million, the victory gave the now-24-year-old native of Modesto, California a two-year exemption for the PGA TOUR, enabling him to play when and where he wants.
DeChambeau has made the most of it.
As of the conclusion of his first Players Championship (May 13) where he finished T-37, DeChambeau had five top 10 finishes and missed only one cut in 14 events in the 2017-’18 wraparound season. They included a solo runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a T-3 at the RBC Heritage, and a solo 4th earlier this month at the Wells Fargo. He also finished 38th at the Masters, an invitation to which he earned by winning the John Deere.
As of May 13, DeChambeau ranked 19th in FedExCup points, 40th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and 12th in U.S. Ryder Cup rankings, where the top eight will automatically qualify for the team. He has accumulated $2.6 million in official earnings this season.
“I’m playing well this year,” DeChambeau said. “I’ve had a couple of top-10s. I’ve had a couple of chances to win…It has been a great year so far and I’m looking forward to the rest.”
No stranger to big accomplishments, DeChambeau won both the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur in 2015, the latter of which took place at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago. In winning both in the same year, he joined the elite company of Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and 2016 John Deere Classic champion Ryan Moore.
John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson, who gave DeChambeau a sponsor’s exemption in 2015 (before he won the Amateur), can’t wait to have him back.
“For a while now, Bryson DeChambeau has been on track to be one of the best players in the world,” Peterson said. “He proved it with his outstanding amateur record and again at the 2017 John Deere Classic. Since winning here, Bryson has gained confidence and his career has really taken off.”
Some regard the analytical physics major from Southern Methodist University as an iconoclast.
Like his hero, the late Payne Stewart – also an SMU golf alum – DeChambeau wears a
Ben Hogan-style cap, an homage to “The Hawk,” who popularized technical analysis of the golf swing back in the late 1950s.
So devoted to Stewart’s memory is DeChambeau that he burst into tears when he learned during the Deere trophy presentation that Stewart’s first Tour victory also came in the Quad Cities.
DeChambeau is an independent thinker and innovator who moves to the beat of his own drummer. In a departure from golf’s longstanding equipment conventions, he uses irons all of which are the same length as his 7-iron, his favorite club, at 37 ½ inches. He believes it adds consistency to his game.
He also was influenced by the controversial book The Golfing Machine in which author Homer Kelley used the principles of physics to explain the golf swing. From there DeChambeau developed his “one-plane” swing theory and ultimately decided on his own to use one-length irons. His equipment company, Cobra, is now marketing them to consumers.
Working outside the norms of golf equipment protocol is working for DeChambeau, who’s bursting with confidence these days.
“I know my game is good enough to be with the elites in the game,” he said. “I'm not there yet. I know that. But I certainly am moving in the right direction, figuring a lot of great things out that's helping me on the golf course.”
What do the statistics say?
DeChambeau ranks 10th on Tour in both Eagles and Birdies, as of May 13. He’s 22nd in Scoring Average at 70.204, a number has been trending lower. He’s 28th in Greens in Regulation at 69 percent and 30th in Driving Distance at 303.9 yards on measured tee shots.
“At every stage it’s always taken me a couple of years to get comfortable,” said DeChambeau, who spent a year on the Web.com Tour. “And I’m finally starting to get a little comfortable out here.
“My golf swing and putting is solidified. It’s about getting better here and there. That’s what I’m doing.”