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Clovis East Alum DeChambeau Puts on a Show at PGA Championship, Falls 1 Stroke Short
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
May 20, 2024

Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after a birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)

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LOUISVILLE — The putt that barely toppled in on the 18th hole. The tee shot that hit a tree on No. 16 but careened back into the fairway. The chip-ins from off the green, the fist pumps in the air and the fist bumps with the fans.

Clovis East High School graduate Bryson DeChambeau put on the kind of show, and got the sort of breaks, that make players larger than life and sometimes win them major titles, too. Yet somehow, when he looked up at the scoreboard for the last time Sunday at the PGA Championship, his name was stuck in second.

One of golf’s most entertaining characters trickled in his last putt for a birdie to close a thrill-a-minute round of 7-under 64 — tied for best of the day — and put him in a tie for the lead at 20-under par.

A half-hour later, Xander Schauffele made birdie from virtually the same angle — his putt lipped halfway around the cup before falling in — to break the tie, break the all-time major scoring record, and capture his first major.

DeChambeau left not with a shiny new trophy, but looking at all the bright spots that came out of his thrilling performance at Valhalla.

“I gave it my all,” he said. “I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my ‘B’ game would be enough. It’s just clearly somebody (else) played incredibly well.”

DeChambeau’s Performance

Warming up for a possible playoff, DeChambeau stood with his hands on his hips, stared at the big board near the driving range, and watched Schauffele’s winning putt go in. Once it landed, DeChambeau turned quickly and exited stage left, making his way to 18 to congratulate the winner.

“I seriously thought 18 was going to do it,” DeChambeau said. “Then when I saw what Xander was doing, it’s like, ‘Man, he’s playing some unbelievable golf.’”

The 2020 U.S. Open remains DeChambeau’s only major title, but golf fans won’t soon forget the charge he put on, the fun he had with the fans, and the exhilarating near-miss in yet another heart-stopper at Valhalla.

Schauffele said he knew he’d be an underdog had the tournament gone into extra holes.

“I really did not want to go into a playoff with Bryson,” he said. “Going up 18 with his length, it’s not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.”

Memorable Moments

DeChambeau’s most memorable moments came on 16 and 18. On 16, DeChambeau was shouting “Fore!” when he hooked his tee shot deep into the woods to the left of the fairway. It pinballed among the trees, then landed 221 yards from the pin in the fairway.

He pulled 8-iron and stuck the shot to 3 feet, taking a monster step forward, waving his arms, then leaning forward and putting his hands on his knees, urging the ball to do exactly what it did — land and stop for his easiest birdie putt of the day.

“I looked at (caddie Greg Bodine) and I go, ‘OK, this is what it takes to win major championships. You got to have breaks like that happen,’” DeChambeau said.

He also needed a birdie on 18 to tie Schauffele. DeChambeau teed off into an awkward lie in a bunker to the left of the fairway, but punched a 6-iron out to the first cut of rough to the left of the green.

The chip stopped 10 feet away and the ensuing putt didn’t look like it had enough steam. On the very last revolution, it tumbled in. DeChambeau pulled the ball from the hole, jabbed his fist in the air, then fist-bumped fans on his way off the course and back to the driving range.

“I (thought I) left it short again like a you-know-what, like an idiot,” he said. “Luckily it got there and it was some nice elation to finish off a round like that in a major championship. Pretty proud of myself, yeah.”

Setting the Stage

Only a day before, DeChambeau set the stage on 18 when he used a 6-iron from 10 yards off the green to chip in for eagle. It vaulted him to two shots out of the lead and was a hint of things to come.

Once one of the most divisive characters in pro golf, DeChambeau has cut down on the weight lifting and toned down on the “Mad Scientist” act that first propelled him into the spotlight. (Though he’s still big on cutting-edge equipment’s major role in his game.)

He has moved to LIV Golf. This win, combined with two other top-10 finishes in majors over the last 12 months, is helping quiet any talk that the LIV players can’t compete at the highest level.

He is honing his persona on YouTube — gobbling up followers online and fans at the course.

On one of golf’s biggest stages, he delivered some much-needed drama and good times for a sport at a crossroads. The best news for DeChambeau and his fans: He’s confident there’s more to come.

“Definitely surprised myself, impressed myself and I know I can do it again,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time.”

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