Bryson DeChambeau makes Ryder Cup statement with Memorial victory

Jun 3, 2018; Dublin, OH, USA; Bryson DeChambeau celebrates with his caddie after winning The Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports

Bryson DeChambeau makes Ryder Cup statement with Memorial victory

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Bryson DeChambeau makes Ryder Cup statement with Memorial victory

DUBLIN, Ohio – After sinking his winning 11-foot birdie putt on Muirfield Village’s par-4 18th hole, the second in a playoff Sunday for the Memorial Tournament title, Bryson DeChambeau let out a roar and fiercely double-pumped his fists in exultation.

“I finally got it right the third time,” said DeChambeau, who had three-putted the 18th for bogey in regulation before missing the green from the fairway on his first crack at the finishing hole in the playoff.

“That was a big celebration there.”

He may need to save some of that energy for Paris.

DeChambeau took down Ben An and Kyle Stanley in extra holes to capture his second career PGA Tour title and put his name firmly in the U.S. Ryder Cup conversation. The second-year Tour pro, who also won last year’s John Deere Classic, moved to eighth in the U.S. standings, bumping Phil Mickelson to ninth.

“To make the Ryder Cup is obviously No. 1 on my priority (list), if I don’t do anything else this year,” DeChambeau said. “This is obviously pretty solid, too, but I will say that to be able to represent your country would be a tremendous honor, one that I’m highly looking forward to, if I do get that opportunity.”

Hopefully, U.S. captain Jim Furyk was paying attention. The analytical DeChambeau was able to pull off victory in one of the best non-major fields of the season, and he did it without his best ballstriking. DeChambeau, who entered the week ranked 11th on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, missed 20 greens in 72 holes.

The key instead was a facet of DeChambeau’s unique game that had always given the 24-year-old fits until this season. A year after finishing 164th in strokes gained putting, DeChambeau, with the help of Sik Golf, has improved his play on the greens.

He gained nearly five shots with his putter at Muirfield Village, ninth best in the field.

“Seeing putts go in is huge,” DeChambeau said. “It’s very, very big for somebody’s morale.”

DeChambeau also led the field in scrambling, which got him out of a jam Sunday on the par-5 15th hole. DeChambeau, who took a one-shot lead into the final round, clung to the same advantage after a bogey on the par-4 14th. He pulled his tee shot into the trees and found the rough twice more, then converted a crucial up-and-down for par.

“All I was thinking about was getting the job done,” DeChambeau said.

An and Stanley may have been DeChambeau’s final challengers, An birdieing two of his last four holes to get into the playoff and Stanley making four consecutive birdies prior to a closing bogey. But it was Patrick Cantlay who found himself two shots ahead of DeChambeau after four birdies in his first eight holes.

Cantlay, however, played the back nine in 3 over to finish fourth at 14 under, a shot out of the playoff.

“Putting yourself in position is what it’s about,” Cantlay said. “The more you can do that, the better off you’re going to be.”

Jun 2, 2018; Dublin, OH, USA; Justin Thomas reacts to his putt on the on the ninth green during the third round of The Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Thomas held on to his No. 1 world ranking, thanks in part to his T-8 finish at Muirfield Village. (Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

Tiger Woods contended for much of another week, tying the lead after 15 holes Saturday. Woods, who had one of his best ballstriking performances in years curtailed by poor putting, ended up T-23.

“Overall my game is where it needs to be heading into the U.S. Open, and that’s something that’s very positive,” Woods said.

Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old Chilean who was trying to become the second youngest Tour winner in history, held a share of the 18- and 36-hole leads before making two double bogeys and closing with a 73 in the final round. He tied for sixth to secure special temporary status in just his fifth pro start.

Top-10 players Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy all finished in the top 10 on the leaderboard.

“To be able to have this type of caliber all chasing is kind of special,” DeChambeau said. “I knew I had to go out there and play well, I couldn’t make many mistakes.”

DeChambeau was one of 25 potential U.S. team members fitted for Ryder Cup uniforms this week at Muirfield Village. For a player who, as an amateur, competed for the U.S. in a Walker Cup, Palmer Cup and World Amateur Team Championship, making yet another national team would mean a great deal to DeChambeau.

“Going in there and seeing all the clothes on you, going, ‘Man, this could happen,’” DeChambeau said. “Let’s go get it done.”

If he plays like he did this week at the Memorial, Team USA would love to have him. Gwk

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