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DeChambeau blasts way to US Open title

Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, reacts after sinking a putt for par on the 18th hole to win the US Open Golf Championship on Sunday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) — What was supposed to be a typical U.S. Open produced a most unconventional champion.

Bryson DeChambeau was not the least bit concerned by the narrow fairways or the ankle-deep rough that shape Winged Foot into historically the toughest of all U.S. Opens. With his extra 40 pounds of muscle and mass, he wanted to pound it into submission with his driver, even if his errant shots were buried in deep grass.

That’s how he plays the game. And for skeptics who said that wouldn’t work in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, just look at that shiny silver trophy he kissed, and the record score he posted Sunday in a six-shot victory.

This victory was as much about validating his out-of-the-box approach to the royal and ancient game.

“One hundred percent, no doubt,” DeChambeau said. “For me, it’s about the journey of can I execute every shot more repeatable than everybody else. I was able to do that this week. That’s why I won by six.”

Part of this course’s fame is the “Massacre of Winged Foot” in 1974 when the winning score was 7-over par.

This was a massacre, all right.

DeChambeau rolled in a 7-foot par putt and thrust those powerful arms in the air when he capped off a 3-under 67 on a course that didn’t allow another round under par. Two shots behind Matthew Wolff at the start of a chilly September afternoon, he caught him in four holes, passed him in five and pulled away along the back nine.

From the fairway. From the rough. It didn’t matter.

“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a U.S. Open champion does,” Rory McIlroy said. “Look, he’s found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know, but it’s just not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played.”

Call him a mad scientist in a tam o’shanter cap. Call him a game-changer in golf.

Any description now starts with U.S. Open champion.

Wolff, trying to become the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win the U.S. Open in his debut, closed with a 75. He made a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 ninth to stay within one shot. That was his only hole under par. Wolff finished at even-par 280, a score that would have won four of the previous five U.S. Opens at Winged Foot.

It didn’t stand a chance in this one.

“You can’t take Bryson out because obviously he won, but shooting even par for four rounds at Winged Foot is pretty exceptional,” Wolff said.

That describes DeChambeau this week. It was a breathtaking performance, four rounds at par or better, the first player to manage that at Winged Foot.

His victory really began last October, when he closed out his 2019 season in Las Vegas and said with a mischievous grin, “I’m going to come back next year and look like a different person.” îHe added 40 pounds through intense workout and a diet of 6,000 calories a day.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the U.S. Open being postponed from June to September. It also gave DeChambeau more time to execute his plan of swinging faster and harder, stretching the limits.

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