US Open 2020
Bryson DeChambeau’s aggressive strategy on one of the toughest courses in the world reaped huge rewards as he powered to his maiden major title at the US Open.
DeChambeau got the better of debutant Matthew Wolff in what developed as a head-to-head battle between the final pairing of the tournament at Winged Foot, firing a three-under 67 that propelled him to a handsome six-shot victory with a winning score of six under par.
The champion was the only player among the 61-strong field to break par in the most treacherous conditions of the championship in New York, holding firm after the turn as his 21-year-old opponent wilted down the stretch, while Rory McIlroy’s hopes of a late charge were effectively ended by a four-putt double-bogey at the opening hole.
There were no such problems for the top two as they set off with Wolff looking to protect his overnight, two-stroke lead, and he opened with a solid par before DeChambeau spurned a great chance to apply early pressure when missing from inside five feet.
But by the time they walked off the fifth green, it was DeChambeau who was suddenly at the top of the leaderboard after he holed a 12-foot putt for birdie at the fourth in between a pair of bogeys from Wolff, who remained the chaser when both dropped shots at the eighth.
Both found the par-five ninth in two and DeChambeau turned the screw with a perfect 30-footer for eagle, only for Wolff to keep the deficit at a single shot heading into the back nine as he followed suit from half that distance.
However, Wolff then pulled his tee shot to the 10th left of the target and could not match the par of DeChambeau, who extended his advantage to three shots with a birdie at 11, and he was content to grind out the pars with Wolff unable to create clear-cut birdie chances over the next three holes.
Wolff erred again at the 14th after coming up short with his approach and seeing it roll back off the slick putting surface, and DeChambeau saved par from 10 feet and scrambled another at the next to keep one hand firmly on the trophy.
And the trophy engraver had the freedom to make an early start after Wolff’s fading hopes were extinguished with a double-bogey six at the 16th, and his day was perhaps summed up when his seemingly-perfect drive down the 17th rolled into a divot on the fairway.
Wolff did well to get away with a par, and he missed a six-footer for birdie at the last to hand in a 75 which dropped him to level par for the week – just his second major appearance of many more in the future.
Having turned the closing stretch into a procession, DeChambeau’s run of stress-free pars was capped by a slippery eight-foot putt for a four at the last, sealing a dominant performance which validated his decision a year ago to pile on the muscle in the quest for extraordinary distance.
Louis Oosthuizen won the race for the final position on the podium, a 73 posting two over par, while Harris English undid some excellent recovery work when he dropped three shots over the last five holes to slip to fourth.
English endured a horror start when he lost a ball left on the opening hole and the volunteers were unable to locate it in the three-minute limit, and it transpired that the search party were in the wrong area as English’s ball was found on a nearby walkway.
The resulting double-bogey was a huge blow, but he responded with an immediate birdie and another at 11 hauled him back to level par for the round, only for his erratic final third of the round to cost him a top-three finish.
Xander Schauffele retained an outside shot at the title until he bogeyed five in a row on the back nine and crashed to four over, one ahead of pre-tournament favourite Dustin Johnson as the world No 1 signed off with a commendable 70.
McIlroy needed to avoid the early mistakes which hampered his title hopes on day two, but he did not capitalise on a perfect drive and followed a poor approach with four putts, the first from 90 feet which lacked the pace to reach the desired level of the green and rolled 60 feet back to the front.
He took himself out of the running with dropped shots at the fourth and seventh and, after a pair of birdies either side of the turn, McIlroy bogeyed 15 and doubled the next en route to a 75 which saw him slip to six over par, which was at least good enough for his 21st top-10 finish in a major.
McIlroy was one ahead of veteran Lee Westwood, who closed with back-to-back 72s, while halfway leader Patrick Reed also finished on seven over par.