A whirlwind back nine at the John Deere Classic transformed Bryson DeChambeau from a much-discussed prospect into a PGA Tour winner.
DeChambeau started the day four shots behind Patrick Rodgers, but he closed with a back-nine 30 to put a charge into the crowds at TPC Deere Run. His 14-foot birdie on the final hole gave him a share of the lead, but when Rodgers bogeyed No. 17 and failed to chip in for birdie at the last it meant DeChambeau would be lifting the trophy after a final-round 65.
“I don’t even know what it means right now,” DeChambeau told CBS. “I’ve just been working so hard my whole life to try to do this. And to finally have it happen at the John Deere, where I started pretty much a couple years ago, is pretty incredible.”
DeChambeau made history during the summer of 2015 when he became just the fifth player to win both the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA individual title in the same year. He turned pro last spring and won the first Web.com Tour Finals event to secure his PGA Tour privileges for this season.
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While he gained notoriety for his unconventional approach and single-length irons, DeChambeau’s season got off to a rocky start and he missed his eighth cut in a row at the U.S. Open. While he turned things around beginning with a T-26 finish at the Travelers Championship the very next week, he entered the Deere ranked just 114th in the season-long points race with his status for next season in question.
That’s no longer an issue for the 23-year-old, who is now exempt on Tour through the 2018-19 season. He’s also in the PGA Championship and Masters by virtue of his win, and as the top finisher not otherwise exempt at TPC Deere Run he also earned the final spot in the field for The Open at Royal Birkdale.
It may be an unconventional approach, one that includes physics equations and featured side-saddled putting earlier in the year, but it has now made him a winner on Tour.
“I think that’s the true meaning of what I try and do is show everybody that look, there’s plenty of ways to do it and I like doing it my way,” DeChambeau said. “I feel comfortable doing it my way. Whatever way you want to do it out there, you can do it.”