U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau proves that bomb-and-gouge works coast to coast

Bryson DeChambeau carded his first bogey-free round in a major on Saturday using a strategy that has already won him one U.S. Open.

U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau proves that bomb-and-gouge works coast to coast

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau isn’t giving up possession of his title as reigning U.S. Open champion without a fight.

The winner of the national championship at New York’s Winged Foot Golf Club in September is proving that his bomb-and-gouge brand of golf works from coast to coast. In his 67th major-championship round, DeChambeau posted his first bogey-free round in a major on Saturday at Torrey Pines’ South Course.

DeChambeau carded a 3-under 68 to climb within two strokes of the lead at the 121st U.S. Open, and vault into a tie for fourth place with Rory McIlroy (67). Only Louis Oosthuizen (70), Russell Henley (71) and Mackenzie Hughes (67), who share the lead at 5-under 208, are ahead of him.

DeChambeau continued to bash driver on nearly every hole – leading the field in driving distance – and it didn’t seem to matter that he hit only five of 14 fairways in the third round as he led the field in greens in regulation.

“Normally, you would say that he has to do better than that tomorrow,” said NBC’s Paul Azinger. “But I’m not sure he does. He’s had a zillion chances for birdie today.”

Fellow NBC commentator John Wood agreed: “I think half of the ones that he missed were tactical. I don’t think he was trying to hit the fairway on those.”

DeChambeau got away with missing the first fairway, hoisting an iron from the right fairway bunker that peppered the flag and he opened with birdie. He got his next birdie after crushing a drive at the 534-yard sixth hole and wedging to 6 feet. One hole later, his erratic driver cost him a stroke as he drove right into a penalty area, but he dropped on a hardpan lie and managed to save par with a brilliant recovery to 6 feet. He had to scramble for par at Nos. 14 and 18, too, and used his length to his advantage in making his last birdie of the day at the par-5 13th.

“That’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to be really patient out here at these majors. It’s something that is not easy to do,” he said. “My first few goes at majors, I was not successful or anywhere near successful, and I feel like I’m starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level. If I can continue to do that tomorrow, I think I’ll have a good chance.”

That’s what DeChambeau was hoping for after struggling to 73 on Thursday, but he claimed he found something in his swing while he was sleeping and has improved his score each day – shooting 69 and 68, just the third bogey-free round of the championship, since his swing tweak. DeChambeau rallied from two shots back in September to win by six strokes and he said he’ll be ready for whatever challenge the course presents as he seeks to become the eighth player to successfully defend his U.S. Open title and first since Brooks Koepka in 2018.

“If they make it hard and tuck pins, it’s going to be a very difficult championship. It’s going to be hold on to your horses. If they make some of the pins accessible and move the tees up like they did (today), you’re going to have to go at it,” he explained. “You just have to recognize the golf course in the moment, in the conditions at hand because if there’s no wind tomorrow or if there’s a lot of wind, that’s going to change a lot of factors, too. It’s about adapting on the spot.”

On Moving Day at the 121st U.S. Open, DeChambeau was on the mark.

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U.S. Open: Propelled by Tiger-like eagle, Mackenzie Hughes vaults into final group at Torrey Pines

Propelled by a 63-foot eagle putt, Mackenzie Hughes shot 68 to earn a spot in the final group at the 121st U.S. Open.

U.S. Open: Propelled by Tiger-like eagle, Mackenzie Hughes vaults into final group at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO – It lacked the fist-pumping reaction of Tiger Woods, but everything else about Mackenzie Hughes’ 63-foot eagle bomb at the par-5 13th was shades of Tiger on Saturday at the 2008 U.S. Open.

“I know Tiger was further right (in 2008), this putt was going right to left…the charge through your body when the ball goes into the hole and the crowd goes wild is kind of why we play,” Hughes told NBC’s Steve Sands after the round. “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.”

That wasn’t the only goosebump-inducing moment for Hughes. The 30-year-old Canadian rode a back-nine 32 at Torrey Pines’ South Course to a share of the 54-hole U.S. Open lead with Russell Henley and Louis Oosthuizen. Hughes has missed the cut in six of his eight previous appearances in majors and has never finished better than T-40. Doesn’t matter – he’s got a tee time in the final group on Sunday at the 121st U.S. Open.

“You get goosebumps thinking about it, so I know I’m going to be nervous tomorrow,” he said. “I essentially played today around the lead all day. I think I was only ever a few back the entire day, so it felt – I think it’ll feel different tomorrow being in that last group, but you do the same things. You mentally tell yourself the same things, and I’ll be referencing my yardage book and my notes a lot. But yeah, I’m going to try and enjoy it lots, and yeah, embrace the moment.”

Hughes has one victory to his credit on the PGA Tour, and enjoyed his best season in 2019 when he finished in the top-30 in the FedEx Cup standings. His recent form has paled in comparison. He entered the week having missed his last five cuts.

“You kind of wonder when you’re going to get it back on track, going the right way, and so I got to Saturday, today, and just felt like, OK, the hard work is kind of done for me. I’m going to go have some fun and play golf.”

What else does he attribute his turnaround to this week? He moved his ball position forward and started hitting predominantly a cut. That and a couple of mental keys that he didn’t care to divulge have righted the ship and lifted his spirits.

“It’s really easy to get down and to be negative and to pout and feel bad for yourself, but I’ve been trying to do the hard thing, which is to be positive, glass half full, optimistic, looking for the progress, and that’s kind of a little bit what I’ve been working on,” he said.

It has finally paid dividends this week. Hughes signed for a 3-under 68 after getting up-and-down for birdie from a greenside bunker on the par-5 18th.

Is there any better slump-buster than winning a major? On Sunday, Hughes will have the chance of a lifetime.

Source : Golf Week More   

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