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DeChambeau muscles to victory

Agence France-Presse

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Bryson DeChambeau celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the 120th US Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club . JAMIE SQUIRE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK (AFP) — Bryson DeChambeau captured his first major golf title, firing a three-under par 67 to win the 120th US Open and humble a relentless Winged Foot layout.

The 27-year-old American, known for his scientific approach to golf and a bulked-up driving dominance, eagled the par-5 ninth from just inside 40 feet and rolled to a six-stroke victory over 21-year-old countryman Matthew Wolff.

DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but finished 72 holes on six-under par 274 thanks to Sunday’s only sub-par round at the formidable Mamaroneck, New York, layout.

DeChambeau became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the final round, and just the fourth ever to do it, completing a dominating performance.

Typical deep US Open rough could not stop DeChambeau, whose exercise and protein shakes delivered powerful drives while his calculations and precise readings produced solid shotmaking on a layout that crushed rivals.

South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, was a distant third on 282, one stroke ahead of American Harris English after both fired 73 Sunday.

American Xander Schauffele, still seeking his first major title, shot 74 and settled for fifth on 284, his fourth top 6 finish in four US Open starts.

Wolff led last-duo partner DeChambeau by two strokes when the day began but failed to become the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and youngest major winner since Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters.

Wolff, coming off a share of fourth last month in his major debut at the PGA Championship, could not duplicate the feat of 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet in 2013 by winning in his US Open debut.

DeChambeau, who spent a three-month coronavirus pandemic layoff building his physique, uses same-length clubs and a chart book for judging putts, bringing some slow-play complaints but also six prior PGA Tour victories.

Ninth-ranked DeChambeau won in July at Detroit and shared fourth at last month’s PGA, his best major finish until Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic postponed the US Open from June and led to a spectator ban, although some fans cheered from beyond boundary fences.

Spending more than an hour on the practice tee Saturday night after all other players had departed, DeChambeau put in work on his drives that paid off Sunday.

DeChambeau and Wolff exchanged impressive eagle putts at the 556-yard par-5 ninth, the easiest hole on a course that averaged 75 Sunday.

DeChambeau drove into the fairway, pitched just inside 40 feet and curled in his eagle putt to reach 5-under. Moments later, Wolff knocked in a 10-footer to stay one shot back.

Wolff stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 10th, missing a par putt from just inside 10 feet, two adrift and the only challenger within five shots.

When DeChambeau rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th to stand 6-under and three ahead — also 3-under on the day’s only sub-par round — the scientist appeared to have finally found a major-winning formula.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot 70 to share sixth with US compatriot Will Zalatoris on 285, never managing a sub-par round.

“Tough golf course,” Johnson said. “I gave myself enough chances, but I just didn’t putt well enough.”

Third-ranked American Justin Thomas finished on 286 to share eighth in a pack with fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner who closed with a 75.

“It was really difficult. Wind was up again,” McIlroy said.

“Looks like everyone found it pretty tough out there. Just a tough day.”

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