MAMARONECK, N.Y. — The greatest golfers in the world lined up to take their shots at brutish Winged Foot Golf Club for four days of the U.S. Open, but only one came away from the encounter unscathed.
Muscular Bryson DeChambeau, the longest driver on the PGA Tour, stood toe to toe with a course with a reputation for mauling every opponent it ever has faced and shot a final-round 67 on Sunday to finish at 6-under-par 274, the lowest winning score in six U.S. Opens at Winged Foot and only the second one under par.
DeChambeau, the only player to break par in the final round and the tournament, came from two strokes behind third-round leader Matthew Wolff, who finished second at even-par 280 following a 75. Next in line were Louis Oosthuizen at 73-282, Harris English at 73-283, Xander Schauffele at 74-284 and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson tied for fifth at 70-285 with Will Zalatoris, who finished with a 71.
WhenDeChambeau went 1 under from the third through the fifth holes while Wolff played them in 2 over, he took over the lead. Both bogeyed the eighth hole, which was DeChambeau’s only bogey, and both eagled the par-5 ninth. From there, DeChambeau pulled away impressively.
"On No. 9 is when I first thought, ‘This could be reality,’" DeChambeau said. "I made that long eagle putt, and I shocked myself by making it, too. I thought to myself, I could do it. I just had to keep focused, making sure I was executing every shot the best I possibly could."
The 21-year-old Wolff was playing in just his second major after finishing tied for fourth with DeChambeau in his first at the PGA Championship last month in San Francisco. But Wolff said Winged Foot played "miles harder" than Harding Park.
"Things just didn’t go my way," said Wolff, who is a prolific long driver like DeChambeau with an even more quirky swing. "But my first U.S. Open is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for. It’s definitely not the last time that I’m going to be in this spot.
"If I’m closer to Bryson coming down the stretch, I’m sure he feels a little bit more pressure. He played really well. There’s a lot of people saying what he’s doing is pretty exceptional. To watch it first hand, I have to agree."
DeChambeau’s overpowering play inspired a chorus of admiration from his competitors.
"Everyone talked about hitting fairways out here," Schauffele said. "It’s not about hitting fairways. It’s about hitting it so far so you can hit a wedge instead of a 6-iron out of the rough. He’s trending a new direction in golf. He’s playing unbelievable."
English reflected on how John Daly and then Tiger Woods changed the game with their extraordinary length and added: "I think Bryson is now changing it again. It’s impressive to see."
DeChambeau always has been an iconoclast seeking new paths forward and focusing on swing science. The shafts on all his clubs are the same length. He used to believe in a single-plane swing, but he abandoned that theory in the past year, consulted with some of the premier long-drive contestants and worked to put on muscle mass and build clubhead speed to nearly 200 miles per hour.
Despite this win, he plans to experiment next week with a 48-inch driver in the hope it will push his booming drives consistently out to 360-70 yards. He also applies science on the putting green, using a device to calibrate how fast his putts are rolling.
"So many times, I relied on science, and it’s worked every single time," DeChambeau said of his work on putting speed. "It’s a lot of validation through science, just making sure the numbers are what they are and the result is accurate … I know I’ve done everything I can in my brain to make perception reality."
DeChambeau’s numbers were off the charts at Winged Foot, where he was first in total shots gained, third in shots gained off the tee, third in approach and second around the green. Asked whether he is changing the game, DeChambeau said: "I think I’m definitely changing the way people think about the game. Now, whether you can do it, that’s a whole different situation."
Only one could execute well enough to overpower Winged Foot.