NORTON, Mass. – It did not take Bryson DeChambeau long to return to winning ways on Labor Day at the Dell Technologies Championship, which was not only his third win of the year, but his second consecutive win in the 2018 FedExCup Playoffs, which rewards the winner with a hefty check of $10 million.
On a humid sultry day at TPC Boston with temperatures reaching the 90s, 24-year old Bryson DeChambeau was the coolest guy in town, shooting a 4-under par 67, for a 16-under par total, to edge Justin Rose by two, who fired a sizzling closing round of 68. Third-place finisher Cameron Smith of Australia closed with a nifty 69 for a 13-under par total.
Playing a game that rewards precision and patience, DeChambeau never wavered under the pressure despite a leaderboard dotted with world top-20 players with last names like Koepka, Johnson, Speith, McIlroy, Matsuyama, Watson, Mickelson and even Woods for s short spell on the front nine.
For the past few years DeChambeau, the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion, has been showing American golf fans how successful his cerebral nature and steady swing has been, but no one expected the Southern Methodist University grad to win three times this year; be a Captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup team; bolt into the world’s top-10 ranked players; and probable winner of the FedExCup Playoffs. Two former winners here – Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson – have gone on to win the FedExCup.
“I wouldn’t have written it any better, to be honest with you,” said a happy and humble DeChambeau in his interview with the media after the awards presentation on the 18th green. “I’ve been playing some great golf this whole year. I knew it was a matter of time before something cool showed up.”
At one point during the final round, 26 golfers sat within four shots of the lead. Then DeChambeau kicked things into high gear, dusting the field for his fourth PGA Tour win in 70 starts. He is the first player since Vijay Singh in 2008 to win the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events, and the first to do so donning a Ben Hogan-esqe cap.
Justin Rose, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, blistered the back nine with a 4-under 31. But it was too little, too late. In the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in 2003, Rose played as a sponsor exemption and shot a 63 to grab the first-round lead. He finished third to earn his PGA Tour card without having to go to Q-school. Adam Scott, another sponsor exemption, won that year.
“This venue,” Rose said, “I’ve always been very thankful and grateful to it, everyone here in Boston for extending that opportunity. So sad to have this be the last year of it.”
TRIMUPHANT WEEK FOR “THE MAD SCIENTIST”
Professional golf has never seen a player and personality like Bryson DeChambeau. The physics major has been nicknamed “The Mad Scientist” and he credits Homer Kelly’s book, “The Golfing Machine” for many of his swing principals and philosophies. He uses an unconventional approach for all his irons being the same length, 37 1/2 inches, which is the average length of a 7-iron shaft, his favorite club. He has names for all of his clubs, and his 6-degree wedge is named “The King” after 1960 Masters champion Arnold Palmer, and his 6-iron is named “Juniper” after the sixth hole at Augusta National.
It was the physics major with the even-keeled temperament that shone brightest on a day when summer refused to cede its grasp. DeChambeau did what he had all week, trusting his yardages and reaping the rewards.
“Again, I have to go back down to all the little stuff I do in my book,” said the native of Modesto, Calif. who was rewarded with $1.62 million first-place check. “If I keep doing the numbers right and I keep executing the right shots, I can’t do much more than that. And if I keep going that route, I’ll be hard to beat.”
Things got going for DeChambeau on the par-5 second with a 9-foot putt for birdie, which he converted. He gave it back on No. 3 but proved headstrong a hole later, taking advantage of the short par-4 fourth with a tap-in for birdie.
Three straight birdies on holes 7 through 9 won DeChambeau the championship. He birdied all three holes, draining a 12-foot putt at No. 8 and sinking midrangers on the other two. He played the back nine in even-par.
Unlike many of his counterparts on tour, DeChambeau doesn’t resist scoreboard watching and was cognizant of where Smith and others stood as he walked the course.
“It affects me tremendously, but in a positive way,” said DeChambeau. “I love knowing where I’m at, solely because I can make good decisions that allow me the best chance to win coming down the stretch.”
Eight players have won multiple events in the same FedExCup Playoffs, and five went on to claim the $10 million bounty at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan had scorched the front nine with a 6-under 30 but fizzled with some missed putts on Nos. 11 and 12. He shot even par on the back and finished in a tie for fourth place at 12-under, joined by C.T. Pan (5-under 66) and Tony Finau (3-under 68).
Dustin Johnson fired a 7-under 64 to maintain his No. 1 position in the World Golf Ranking. He wrapped up Labor Day weekend in a tie for seventh place at 11-under alongside Bubba Watson, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Emiliano Grillo, and Abraham Ancer.
Ancer, the 54-hole leader, faulted early in the final round with a bogey on TPC Boston’s easy par-5 second hole. He shot 2-over 73, good enough to advance along with 70 other players to the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“Very frustrated,” said Ancer on his rough final round. “Couldn’t really get anything going. I was always battling back, making bogeys on par-5s when I should have been making birdies. It put me behind the eight ball.”
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth lingered for a while, but neither received the burst they were looking for on the challenging middle-stretch of the golf course. McIlroy bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15, Spieth carded three bogeys in his first five holes on the back nine, and both finished in a tie for 12th at 10-under.
The bulk of the gallery all week at TPC Boston was there to see Tiger Woods, and he had a disappointing even-par 71 to finish tied for 24th at 7-under.
He had been 3-under for the day but bogeyed the 14th and made a double bogey at the par-3 16th having his tee shot hit the hill in front of the green and bounce back into the water.
This was the 16th and final year of the Boston area being an annual stop on the PGA Tour. The tournament is being removed as the FedEx Cup playoffs are shortened from four events to three.
Beginning next year, the Northern Trust, the first leg of the playoffs, will alternate between Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey, and TPC Boston.
The dates for the August 2020 event in Norton have not been released but will run the traditional Thursday through Sunday.
Bryson DeChambeau wins Dell Technologies Championship
So, after 16 consecutive years of the PGA Tour visiting the Bay State, the final chapter is complete, Bryson DeChabeau is Boston’s last Labor Day champion!