Bryson DeChambeau admits he doesn't do well in match-play golf tournaments. But this week, he came close to a big victory.
With his father, Jon, as his caddy, DeChambeau made two big rallies, only to eventually lose to Santa Cruz's Cory McElyea, 3 and 2 in Saturday's final of the 102nd California State Amateur at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
"I was a little disappointed," said DeChambeau, a former Clovis East High star who recently completed his freshman season at Southern Methodist. "I wasn't too worried early on because I felt if I played a couple good holes I would be able to secure the win.
"It didn't work out that way."
After 13 holes, McElyea — who plays for the University of San Francisco — led 7-up. By hole 21 of the scheduled 36-hole final, DeChambeau was within two. McElyea pushed the lead back to 5-up with five holes to play, only to see DeChambeau win two straight before finally being eliminated.
DeChambeau only had to look over at Dad to keep it all in perspective. The elder DeChambeau — who lost in the first round of the same tournament in 2007 — had a rough 2012. He went through seven surgeries — open heart, back (twice) and eye (four).
And yet Jon was there lugging the bag all week, beginning with 18 holes of qualifying stroke play Monday and Tuesday.
"Pretty grateful for the support system," Bryson said. "Even though he was going through a tough time, I knew the doctors would take care of him. God will take care of him. In my eyes that's how I looked it and I knew he would be OK."
Jon DeChambeau's experience from 2007, when he lost as the No. 10 seed, helped greatly, the 29th-seeded Bryson said.
"It was awesome," DeChambeau said. "I had a lot of fun with him because he helped me stay focused and be mentally prepared. Having my dad by my side and playing great golf, it was a special moment."
McElyea, this year's 10th seed, qualified for and last week competed at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. In Saturday's final, he started fast by winning Nos. 3, 4 and 6 with pars while DeChambeau had bogeys. A birdie on No. 7 pushed the lead to 4-up.
DeChambeau really got rolling once the second 18 began. He won the 20th hole with a birdie and 21st with a par to get within two. McElyea helped reverse the momentum with an eagle on hole 27 — the 484-yard, par-5 ninth on the Dunes Course.
Later, down three, DeChambeau let a big chance slip away on the 29th hole when he missed a 2-foot birdie putt.
"It was really a tough putt," said The Bee's 2012 high school Boys Golfer of the Year. "It broke 8 inches. I just tapped it and it went by 6 feet. I was like, 'Gosh dang it.'
"The 36 holes is an endurance test. Got to be ready for it and make sure you have snacks and water so you can make sure you're mentally prepared for a 36-hole day."
DeChambeau finished his freshman season at SMU by earning Division I PING All-Central Region honors from the Golf Coaches Association of America. He had five top-five and six top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at the Conference USA Championship tournament on April 21-23.
He and his Mustangs teammates competed at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, where they finished sixth — one spot from advancing to the NCAA Championships. DeChambeau finished in 60th with a three-day total 239. He was the C-USA Freshman of the Year, finishing No. 63 in GolfWeek's national rankings and No. 64 by GolfStat.
DeChambeau will play July 1-3 at the Sahalee Players Championship in Sammamish, Wash.
"It was a great learning experience," he said of Saturday's near-miss. "I know I can compete against the best amateurs and know how to play my game, and that's what I really took from it. I'm excited about playing in the next couple of tournaments."
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