Just north of Manhattan, in Mamaroneck, N.Y. the 120th annual United States Open Championship took place at the Winged Foot west course for the sixth time in the tournament’s history. Nestled in the county of Westchester, this course was eerily barren, without masses of spectators gathered around. Cheers from caddies were the only morale-boosts coming from the sidelines.
From Sept. 17-20, the world’s most talented golfers took to the green to compete for the silver trophy, and a hefty payout. With a purse of $12,500,000, tensions were high to come out on top. It was 27-year-old Bryson DeChambeau who finished at the top of the 60-player leaderboard, with a six-stroke victory over third-round leader, Matthew Wolff. Not only did he get his name printed on a check for $2,250,000, per ESPN, but DeChambeau also earned berths into the other four major tournaments happening in 2021: the Masters, the Professional Golfer’s Association Championship, The Players Championship and the Sentry Tournament.
Winged Foot has a long past, full of rich history since its incorporation in 1921. Its west course was a true challenge during the open. Athletes were forced to battle fierce weather conditions, such as 15 mile per hour winds, in conjunction with the course’s defined fairway angles. The greens were crisp, posing additional challenges to the seasoned professionals. The last time Winged Foot hosted the open was in 2006, where the winner, Geoff Ogilvy, was five over par. History certainly did not repeat itself this time around when DeChambreau blew everyone away with his showstopping six-under performance.
DeChambreau worked methodically, driving bombs off the tee and overcoming each challenge which with Winged Foot burdened him. His average drive launched 325 yards out, which is a feat that blows previous champions out of the water. That is the longest driving-distance average by any U.S. Open winner since hole-by-hole data became available in 1983. Of 56 fairways on Winged Foot, DeChambeau hit 23 over the four day tournament, which is four less than any other Open winner. It was his precision and strength in other areas which can be credited for his success.
The tournament began with a total of 144 competitors, but after 36 holes there was a cut at 6-over, 146 or better, leaving 61 players to continue the fight for the championship title. With over half of the participants weeded out, players could take their time on the green, ensuring that each move was as deliberate and accurate as possible.
Only 60 men completed the championship on the brisk Sunday afternoon of Sept. 20. The third place rank went to Louis Oosthuizen, from Mossel Bay, South Africa, who finished eight shots behind DeChambeau. The scores of the top three golfers were etched in at 274, 280 and 282, in that order.
The final round is where DeChambeau sealed his fate as “Bryson the Great.” There, he finished three strokes under par (67), cementing himself as only the fourth player at this tournament in the last century to be the sole player to better par in the final round and take home the crown. The grand finale edged out rookie Wolff, who had led the charge for a whopping 54 holes. The young star didn’t go home empty handed; he left with a $1,350,000 prize to show for his success over the weekend.
DeChambeau is no stranger to victory, as he has been a star since his college years at Southern Methodist University. According to the official website of the United States Golf Association, the California native was only the twelfth player to have won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open. Furthermore, he was the fifth athlete to win both the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship in the same year, notching both of those honors in 2015.
The victor now takes the top spot in the season-long race for the FedEx Cup, which goes to the PGA athlete with the top score, as his win added 600 points to his total, sending DeChambeau past Stewart Clink who only has 500 points. The points system will work in culmination with the FedEx Cup Playoff series to determine who will win it all.
Now, with a U.S. Open title under his belt, DeChambeau joins an elite group of just three men who have garnered this trinity of designations. Among the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, DeChambeau has a lot to prove, but the young golfer has made it clear that he is one to watch.