Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, NY — September 20, 2020
The pressure of the final round of the U.S. Open is said to be immense. Double bogey 6 was a common score among the contenders on the first hole. Reaching the green in 2 was not an assurance of making par as the hole location required golfers to settle their ball into a small area around the hole and then make a six-foot par putt.
Rory McIlroy drove into the middle of the 1st fairway, hit the green with his second shot but caught the steep front slope and rolled down off the green an inch into the fringe. His third shot, a lag putt, never made it to the flat area around the pin and rolled back to the front of the green. Shot four finally made it to a safe spot 7 feet to the right of the pin. However, he missed the short putt for bogey and carded a 4-putt double bogey to start his round.
Harris English stood on the first tee even par for the tournament. His drive found the heavy left rough and it is still there, somewhere. With no fans lining the fairway and just course volunteers to search for the ball, the three-minute time limit passed without success. Returning to the tee, English teed off again hitting his third shot. His double bogey left him frustrated at losing a ball and 2 strokes. English recovered well, rolling a bunker shot into the hole for a birdie on #2.
The Leaders Tee Off
With no one on the course making an early move the leaders stepped up to the first tee. Would nerves send the final twosome, Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau, down the same path? Apparently, young men have a calmer approach to pressure. DeChambeau is 27 and at peak physical condition. Wolff, at age 21, is the defending NCAA champion, he led Oklahoma State to the team championship in 2019 and the tournament was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Only two professional golfers have won the NCAA, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, Wolff looks to join the elite group today.
Both golfers drove into the fairway, hit the ideal landing spot on the flat portion of the green, and two-putted for par. The first 5 holes on the course have played at 600 over par during the week. Would these young guns cave or power through?
Wolff missed the green to the left on the 247-yard, par 3, third hole. He hit a great shot out of the rough and settled within 12 feet of the hole. Unfortunately, a 2-putt for bogey cost Wolff a stroke. DeChambeau birdied the 4th hole and the tournament was tied at 4 under.
Both players missed the fairway on the 514-yard, par 4, fifth hole. Wolff’s 2nd shot found the greenside bunker short and to the right of the hole. DeChambeau barely rolled on to the front of the green and faced a 90-foot putt for par. Wolff blasted out of the bunker 12 feet from the cup, DeChambeau lagged up to within 6 feet and drained the putt. Wolff two-putted for bogey, dropping out of the tie for the lead.
A Chance to Gain Ground
After the brutal five-hole stretch to begin the front side, holes 6 through 9 have yielded scores of 70 under par to the field. The rest of the course has scored 1,650 over par for the week. Would anyone be able to make a move prior to the back nine closing holes?
Only the leaders could respond. Both players made par on 6 and 7, both bogeyed the 8th. Then on the par 5, ninth hole, both reached the green in two. DeChambeau putting first, sank it for an eagle, an opening nine of 2 under par, and a tournament-leading score of 5 under par. In true match play style, Wolff responded with an eagle of his own, His front nine score of 1 over par 36 left him a stroke behind at 4 under.
The Back Nine
With no other players able to mount a charge, the leaders looked to separate themselves further from the field and settle things between the two of them. A bogey on 10 by Wolff and a birdie on 11 by DeChambeau opened the lead to 3 strokes. Wolff began to see things slipping away with another bogey on the 14th hole as the lead grew to 4 strokes. Matching pars on the 15th meant time was running out for Wolff.
DeChambeau -6, Wolff -2
With 3 holes to play, DeChambeau refused to take his foot off the accelerator. He hit the longest drive on the day on 16, while Wolff failed to find the fairway 80 yards back. Wolff’s second, out of the deep rough, came up short of the green. He sailed his 3rd shot to the rough at the back of the green, chipped down towards the hole, and two-putted for a double bogey. DeChambeau on the green in regulation rolled his put to within inches of the hole and tapped in for par and likely his first major championship.
DeChambeau -6, Wolff Even
The only player in the tournament under par has a 6 stroke lead with 2 holes to play. As tough as Winged Foot is, DeChambeau would have to break a limb to give up the lead at this point.
When you have things on a roll, even luck favors you. DeChambeau’s approach to the 17 landed in the deep greenside rough, on a sprinkle head. He was allowed relief, one club length and no closer to the hole, DeChambeau dropped onto the fringe, putted to within 2 feet, and made par to match Wolff’s score on the hole.
Walking down the 18th fairway with the camera constantly in his face, DeChambeau took the opportunity to tell his mom and dad he loved them and mention other members of the family.
Wolff’s shot to the 18th green left him with a very makeable birdie putt, DeChambeau muscled a shot out of the deep rough unto the green, but could not climb the hill and watched it roll off the front. His pitch to the back of the green rolled down just short of Wolff’s ball.
DeChambeau’s perfect putt rolled into the center of the cup. Wolff two-putted, to deny himself the opportunity to finish the tournament in red numbers. Bryson DeChambeau is the 2020 U.S. Open Golf Champion.
After signing his scorecard, DeChambeau walked out of the clubhouse and was surprised by a portable big screen monitor with his parents chatting their congratulations to their son. It was then the emotion of the moment caught up to him as the celebration began.
Final Results of the 120th U.S. Open from Winged Foot Golf Club
|T23||Erik van Rooyen||10||70||74||76||70||290|
|T23||Rafael Cabrera Bello||10||68||70||74||78||290|
|30||Charles Howell III||11||73||72||72||74||291|