Bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau generally has operated under a “Big Hitter, the Lama” mindset since the PGA Tour restarted earlier this summer, hauling off and smashing historically long drives without regret or apology.
“Caddyshack” references aside, DeChambeau’s decision to eschew his mighty driver for a hybrid on the final hole Sunday may have cost him an important stroke in his quest for his first major title. His finishing drive landed in the rough and he bogeyed the par-4 18th to drop to two strokes behind leader Matthew Wolff in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
“If the situation is right and driver makes sense [Sunday], blast it up there, hit it in the rough and then hit a wedge on the green where it feeds off the back part of the slope, it makes sense,” DeChambeau said. “I haven’t done it this week, though, so I’ve just got to hit a better hybrid. I did not. Just started out to the right and didn’t draw it back.”
DeChambeau had birdied the previous two holes to give himself a chance to tie for the 54-hole lead entering Sunday’s final round, but he settled for an even-par 70 and a 3-under score for the tournament.
Afterward, the self-proclaimed “mad scientist” lamented hitting just 3 of 14 fairways and failing to reach seven of 18 greens in regulation.
“The round today was a huge battle. I was proud of the way I persevered out there,” the 27-year-old DeChambeau said. “It was difficult. Especially when you’re not hitting it straight in the fairway. For me it felt like I kept myself in it, scrambled really well.
“Got to do that [Sunday, but I also have to hit some more fairways. I know that. … Today was pathetic, and it needs to be better than that to win a U.S. Open.”
Either way, the California native is solidly in the hunt entering the final day of a second straight major. He posted his first top-10 finish in 16 career tries (tied for fourth) at the PGA Championship last month.
“Absolutely. I think the past two majors I’ve played in I’ve been right in contention. It’s definitely validating, albeit there’s a lot more to go,” DeChambeau said. “I’ve got to figure out a lot more. I am excited to be in this position, for sure. There’s no better place to be.”
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