Bryson DeChambeau has spent many of his 24 years answering questions.
On Sunday in the final round of the Northern Trust Open, DeChambeau answered the most pertinent question of his career to date when he locked down the first FedEx Cup tournament title and, in the process, cemented himself as a certain captain’s pick on the Ryder Cup team.
DeChambeau took a four-shot lead into Sunday’s final round at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., and saw it whittled to two shots at one point on the back nine by Aaron Wise before staving off challenges by Wise and Tony Finau to finish 18-under for a four-shot victory.
Finau, also in contention to be a Ryder Cup captain’s pick, finished runner-up at 14-under.
DeChambeau’s win, his second of the year and third of his career, adds him to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as virtual locks as captain’s picks by Jim Furyk for next month’s Ryder Cup. That will leave Furyk with one final pick to be made after the BMW Championship in two weeks.
DeChambeau left no doubt Sunday.
“I said I was a man on a mission [Saturday], and hopefully [Furyk] can see that I’ve got some grit and grind and that even when I don’t execute certain shots, I can get it done,” DeChambeau said.
Before this week, many of the questions involving DeChambeau have centered around his eccentric approach to golf — specifically by his obsession with biomechanics and his use of a set of clubs that are all the same length.
Of late, the questions surrounding him have been about all the wrong things — things not related to his results.
In the past month alone, there was:
- His meltdown on the practice range after shooting an opening-round 75 at the British Open, where he was ticked off by the way he was hitting the ball. Unfortunately for DeChambeau, his tantrum was caught on camera and resulted in many poking fun at him having a moment — as if those in the zero-accountability world of social media have never had a moment.
- His collapse at the Porsche European Open in Germany, where he had a one-shot lead with four holes to play, dropped five shots on those final four holes and handed the title to Richard McEvoy. DeChambeau gave McEvoy a very brief congratulatory handshake and was lambasted for it, causing him to apologize later.
- The compass controversy, in which the USGA ruled DeChambeau could no longer use a protractor that was assisting him in determining “true” hole locations. The controversy began when DeChambeau used a compass during the Travelers Championship in June. That led to the PGA Tour investigating DeChambeau’s use of it.
In short, DeChambeau is California quirky. To some, he’s refreshingly different. To others, he’s not their cup of tea.
One of his strongest supporters is Woods, who has become a semi-regular practice-round partner of DeChambeau.
How did that happen?
“I don’t know,” Woods said Sunday. “That’s kind of one of the weird ones, yeah. It just kind of evolved.”
Woods and DeChambeau have bonded in recent months — perhaps for the reason that they’ve both been outcasts of sorts, albeit for different reasons, throughout their lives.
“Bryson is very fiery,” Woods said. “We all know he’s extremely intelligent, but his heart … he gives it everything he has and is always trying to get better. We want fiery guys on the [Ryder Cup] team. We’re going overseas and we’re going into a pretty hostile environment, so we want guys who are fiery. He’s a tough kid. He’s been through a lot in his life, and he’s worked hard to get to where he’s at.”
Woods, who has found himself intrigued by DeChambeau’s off-beat approach to the game, said: “I feel a lot of the things that he says, but we articulate it completely differently. But I understand what he’s saying. It’s a lot of fun to needle him and give him a hard time about it, but I definitely respect what he says because of the fact that he does a lot of research. I mean, he is very into what he’s doing.”
DeChambeau said: “I’ve never really been super talented. I’ve always had to work twice as hard as everybody growing up.”
He finds himself mesmerized by Woods’ raw ability.
“I never realized the immense talent he has in regards to the feel in his hands and his ability to control the golf ball and do things that I’ve never seen before,” he said.
When asked if he and Woods “speak the same language,” DeChambeau said: “At times. And at times, he tells me to shut up and hit the ball.”
On Sunday, he did just that, and in the process, he left no questions unanswered.