Sports

Former Clovis East golf star Bryson DeChambeau captures prestigious U.S. Amateur title

AP

What a summer.

Former Clovis East star and Southern Methodist senior Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Amateur on Sunday to become the fifth player to win the tournament and NCAA individual title in the same year.

DeChambeau walloped Virginia junior Derek Bard 7 and 6 in the 36-hole final at Olympia Fields.

Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004) are the only other players to sweep the NCAA and Amateur titles in a season.

That’s some elite company.

“I can’t believe what I just did,” DeChambeau said. “I’m in golf history. I don’t understand it yet. It’s an honor to be in that field.”

It was the widest margin in a title match since Byeong-Hun An’s 7-and-5 victory over Ben Martin in 2009.

“I didn’t make anything and he made all the putts he had to,” Bard said.

Bard didn’t make a birdie after the sixth hole of the morning round, while DeChambeau had nine birdies in the 30 holes and was 20 under in six matches.

DeChambeau had a 2-up lead after the morning round. He lost the 19th hole after snap-hooking his drive and making a bogey 6.

“I thought, ‘Keep pressing the pedal to the metal now, play Bryson golf,’ ” DeChambeau said.

DeChambeau won the next three holes with birdies and seven of nine holes.

A par-saving 20-footer on the 25th hole of the match, the par-3 seventh, allowed DeChambeau to salvage a halve after Bard had already made par.

“He didn’t have the same step,” DeChambeau said about Bard after the par-saving putt. “I just made everything.”

Even a caddie switch didn’t bother DeChambeau. Regular caddie Mike Schy, a golf professional from Fresno, complained of blisters and plantar fasciitis, so was replaced for the afternoon round by Brooke Price, a former teammate at SMU.

“He was positive, encouraging the whole time,” DeChambeau said.

Bard believed the turning point was DeChambeau’s chip-in for a birdie on the eighth hole in the morning, shortly after a one-hour thunderstorm delay.

“It was cool to watch,” Bard said. “From that point, he took control. I was still 1 up, but I played No. 9 poorly, as I did all week.”

DeChambeau dominated all of his matches in rolling to the title in the week-long event. DeChambeau’s path to the final included wins over Paul Dunne – who contended for this year’s British Open title – in the quarterfinals, NCAA Player of the Year Maverick McNealy of Stanford and South Carolina All-American Matt NeSmith.

“It’s an incredible honor,” DeChambeau said. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be able to win this championship, and with all the dedication and hard work that I’ve put into making this possible, it’s finally realized and I’m so excited and so honored to be everybody’s champion, U.S. Amateur champion.”

The finalists received exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Open, three years of exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and a likely invitation to the 2016 Masters. DeChambeau, as the champion, also received an exemption into the 2016 British Open.

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