Bryson DeChambeau keeps tally marks on his yardage book for his PGA Tour victories. When he pulled that book out on the 16th hole Sunday, there were seven marks on the bottom left. Whoever stitches that leather-bound book has some work to do on Monday morning.
DeChambeau shot 71 on Sunday at the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational to finish at 11 under and beat Lee Westwood by a stroke for the eighth win of DeChambeau’s PGA Tour career (third in his last 15 starts worldwide). He did it with power and finesse — just like he did at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot last September — and again lit up a field that played a firm, fast course with lengthy rough.
All the attention (for good reason!) will be paid to Bryson’s theatrics at the par-5 6th. He again drove it to within 100 yards of the 565-yard hole by cutting off a large portion of the lake on the dogleg left hole. Again, he made birdie. This is instructive. While DeChambeau certainly performed well in other areas of his game throughout the week — you can’t perform poorly in them and win exclusively with your driver — he picked up nearly 60% of his 12 strokes gained on the field with the big stick (nearly two (!) of those with what he did on Saturday and Sunday on No. 6 alone).
Drive: 377 yards.
Distance to the pin: 88 yards.@B_DeChambeau does it again at No. 6.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/HYSyDvQCMm
This is remarkable. DeChambeau’s power game allows him breathing room elsewhere. Whereas a Jordan Spieth or even a Westwood has to perform well above average with putter or wedge play, Bryson can make some mistakes and get away with them and still contend to win golf tournaments.
The entire thing is an absolute show, too. DeChambeau pumping driver on any given hole right now is akin to when Manny Ramirez stepped to the dish at Fenway Park in his prime. The power and skill is outrageous, and the theatrics are nearly just as wild. There’s also a hint of “I’m not totally sure how this is going to play out here.” DeChambeau in contention is among the most entertaining people in professional sports (not golf, sports).
Don’t let his 12 pars coming home following birdie at No. 6 fool you, either. Bay Hill played to an average of 75.4 on Sunday. Pars were moving you up (not down) the leaderboard, and DeChambeau made a lot of them with a combination of pummeled drives and big putts at the right time.
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The story of Bryson’s transformation into a top five-type player in the world over the last year or so is two-fold. The first is that his unadulterated power is giving him opportunities — both off the tee and in the rough — to not have to be perfect in other parts of his game. The other is that because the other parts of his game are good (he was 9th in iron play and top 30 in short game), he wins a lot.
Eight times on the PGA Tour in this era (including a U.S. Open) is an embarrassment of riches. The continuation of this indefinitely into the future is no guarantee, but his style and his clear (sometimes maniacal!) drive to be the best in the world are reason to believe nothing about what’s happened over the last year — 14 top 10s, including three wins since the start of 2020 — is going to erode in the near future. In fact, Bryson is the future. And he’s destroying in the present. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Jordan Spieth (T4): He’s back. I said it, so let me repeat it. He’s back. I do not care about the outcome or what happened on Sunday. I very much care that Round 4 at Bay Hill was the 13th time in his last 16 measured rounds that he’s been positive in strokes gained on approach shots. There’s work to be done with driver, and the putter will come and go, but he will consistently contend when the iron play is great, and it has been world-class for a month straight. That matters a lot on the PGA Tour, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism when he can guide the rest of the thing around a watery place like Bay Hill. Grade: A
Rory McIlroy (T10): After a tremendous putting round on Thursday, it did feel like Rory was going to light up this tournament and this golf course. But some dodgy play with his irons over the next three days pushed him down the leaderboard, and he was finally completely taken out of it when he put two in the water off the tee on No. 6 on Sunday (before making the greatest 7 of all time thereafter). There’s another level to Rory’s game that he has just not reached yet, and it was evident when he lost 2.5 strokes on his approach shots on Saturday when he needed to make a move. The encouraging part for him is that he might peak at the Masters in April, but he’s clearly not firing on all cylinders (for him!) with a month to go before major season begins. Grade: B-
Viktor Hovland (T50): The Norwegian ended his run of four consecutive top-six finishes after losing eight (!!) strokes to the field over the last two days. If you’re looking ahead to The Players, this could be a good thing. Hovland played great in his first round last year but his odds will be longer than they were a few days ago because of the bad weekend at Bay Hill. Believe in the tee-to-green game with him at TPC Sawgrass! Grade: C
This is also me right now. https://t.co/I9Hirb7Lvo
This sequence was amazing. pic.twitter.com/mrDcPHBQnB
Reply to this tweet with a question for the champ and @B_DeChambeau might answer it at the end of his press conference. 👀 pic.twitter.com/ZZbCL7wV8M
It’s difficult to describe how impressive I find @WestwoodLee performance this week.
At his age, playing against “the talk of the town”, he played golf at the highest standard.
He would have wanted more because that’s the way he is…
I raise a glass to you my friend
Arnold Palmer Invitational – Tournament Reaction, Final Round Recap | The First Cut Golf Podcast https://t.co/yhmlDAYsDg
When the Orgain-only diet finally catches up to you. pic.twitter.com/ScmA0mQYpW
Big gains for Bryson at Bay Hill. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/SKR5mU5DJM
Wearing Arnold Palmer’s iconic red cardigan proudly. pic.twitter.com/uk0n5vLeLz
Field scoring average Sunday ends up at 75.5, the highest final round at Bay Hill since 1980 (79.1).
“It means the world to me. I got a text from Tiger this morning… we talked about just keeping fighting no matter what happens.”@b_dechambeau on his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
(🎥 @PGATOUR) pic.twitter.com/KyQ4Gm8BKz
On approach shots outside 200 yards, Bryson finishes the week 7-under-par, 2nd-best of anyone in the field (Kristoffer Ventura, -8). DeChambeau’s average proximity on those approach shots was 8’7″ better than the field average.
“I don’t even know what to say to win at Mr. Palmer’s event … It’s gonna make me cry.” pic.twitter.com/VMNJmFUPIe
“I’ll put $50 on @b_dechambeau this week to win…”@JustinRayGolf nails his top Perfect Portfolio play on “The Gimme” 💰 pic.twitter.com/1sGoJqebdT
An emphatic reaction.@B_DeChambeau is a winner at Bay Hill. 🏆#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/sdohKTXTCB
Bryson’s sponsor mentions feel like a bit. It’s a bit, right?
Bryson DeChambeau has three wins in his last 15 starts worldwide. pic.twitter.com/OCup2nDhHK
I can’t believe we get to do this every week.
I can’t believe we get to do this every week.
Most @PGATOUR wins last 5 seasons
Justin Thomas, 12
Dustin Johnson, 12
Bryson DeChambeau, 8
Most @PGATOUR wins when trailing entering final round, last 5 seasons
Bryson DeChambeau, 5
Justin Thomas, 5
Xander Schauffele, 4
Bryson played boldly to win. 🏆@B_DeChambeau claims win No. 8 at Arnie’s Place. pic.twitter.com/81nW8xOhMN
Westwood leaves himself about 5 feet for par on No. 18. Bryson needs to two-putt for the win.
“Finish this.” pic.twitter.com/ayJjW8jmWu
Bryson pumps one down the middle on No. 18 and hits the middle of the green with his second shot. That’s a wrap unless Westwood hits about a 60-footer.
The longest drive of the day on 18. 💪#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/pqHWMlWjYg
Clutch drive: Bryson hits it 303 down the middle at 18, the longest of any player in the field today
Mister DeChambeau. pic.twitter.com/tRrbJXD7o9
Jordan Spieth since beginning of 2018 worldwide
Last 4 starts – 3 top-5 finishes
Previous 70 starts – 3 top-5 finishes
Bryson hits the middle of the green on 17, which has been quite an accomplishment most of the day. He’s about to win. Westy needs a good two-putt to stay within one going to the 72nd.
Field score to par on back nine today at Bay Hill
Holes 10-16 – 2 over
Holes 17-18 – 102 over
Pars on 16 for Bryson and Westy to stay at -11 and -10 respectively. Conners bogeys 17 ahead of them to drop two back of Bryson.
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