Already one of the top young players in the game, in 2020 Bryson DeChambeau added to his arsenal length the likes of which nobody in professional golf had ever seen before.
What transpired at Winged Foot Golf Club during the 2020 U.S. Open, played in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be talked about for years to come.
The Unforgettable 2020 U.S. Open: DeChambeau’s Triumph at Winged Foot
The 2020 United States Open Championship will forever be etched in golf history as a tournament of unprecedented challenges, held during a year marred by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Scheduled to take place from June 18 to 21, this prestigious golf event was eventually held on September 17 to 20, marking the first U.S. Open in 107 years to be played in September.
The stunning West Course at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, was the battleground for this thrilling competition, situated in the picturesque suburb northeast of New York City.
In a unique twist, the championship unfolded without the presence of spectators, a testament to the resilience of the sport and its dedication to safety in trying times.
Bryson DeChambeau’s Breakthrough Victory
The 120th U.S. Open witnessed a significant turning point in the career of Bryson DeChambeau. The talented golfer secured his first major title with a remarkable six-under-par 274.
However, it was his final round of 67, three strokes under par, that truly set him apart from the competition.
DeChambeau’s exceptional performance not only secured his victory but also turned a two-stroke deficit into a commanding six-stroke lead over runner-up Matthew Wolff.
Wolff, the 54-hole leader, struggled in the final round, shooting a 75.
DeChambeau’s triumph marked a remarkable transformation, especially considering his previous best U.S. Open performance had been a tie for fifteenth.
Wolff, at just 21 years old, was attempting to make history by becoming the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923, and the first to win in his U.S. Open debut since amateur Francis Ouimet in 1913.
Winged Foot: A Legendary Battlefield
The 2020 U.S. Open was hosted at the iconic West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club for the sixth time.
This course is renowned for its unrelenting challenges, making it one of the toughest in major championship golf. In previous editions, it had produced champions like Geoff Ogilvy in 2006 and Hale Irwin in 1974, in a tournament later dubbed the “Massacre at Winged Foot.”
The West Course underwent significant renovations starting in 2017 under the guidance of architect Gil Hanse.
These changes included increasing the overall length and switching the designated par of the 5th and 9th holes from the last time it hosted the U.S. Open, with the 5th hole becoming a par 4 and the 9th hole a par 5.
The Unique Field of Competitors
Traditionally, about half of the U.S. Open field qualifies through local and sectional qualifiers.
However, the 2020 edition was different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The entire field consisted of players who were exempt from qualifying, with revised exemption criteria announced on June 25, 2020.
The field was reduced from 156 to 144 players, and additional places were awarded based on performances in tournaments on the PGA and European tours, as well as various ranking and money lists.
Notably, ten past U.S. Open champions participated, including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods.
Unfortunately, 2017 and 2018 champion Brooks Koepka did not compete due to injury.
Rule Changes and Notable Performances
One significant rule change in 2020 was related to the U.S. Amateur champion. They would no longer forfeit their U.S. Open exemption if they turned professional, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the field.
Round Summaries: A Test of Skill and Tenacity
The tournament kicked off with a bang as 2017 PGA Champion and world number three, Justin Thomas, delivered a sensational five-under-par round of 65. It was the lowest round ever recorded in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Thomas took the first-round lead, with players like Thomas Pieters, Matthew Wolff, and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed closely behind.
Louis Oosthuizen showcased his skill by shooting a spectacular round, joining Lee Westwood and 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy in a tie for fifth place at three under par.
The scoring average for the first round was 72.56, the second-lowest for a first round in U.S. Open history.
Patrick Reed emerged as the 36-hole leader with an even-par round of 70. Bryson DeChambeau’s two-under-par round of 68 was the lowest of the day, moving him into second place, just one stroke behind Reed.
Justin Thomas, the overnight leader, struggled in the second round, finishing with a three-over-par round of 73 to tie for third place.
The cut came at 146 (six-over par), with notable players like Tiger Woods missing the weekend action.
Matthew Wolff, making his U.S. Open debut, displayed incredible skill in the third round. He quickly made up a four-stroke deficit with five birdies on the front nine.
Despite hitting just two of 14 fairways, Wolff managed to maintain his lead, closing the round with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. At 21,
Wolff became the youngest 54-hole leader at the U.S. Open since 1971.
Bryson DeChambeau was hot on Wolff’s heels, and Louis Oosthuizen was the only other player under par after the third round.
The final round witnessed a thrilling showdown between Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff.
DeChambeau took the lead on the fifth hole, and the two engaged in a neck-and-neck battle until the 10th hole when Wolff hit his tee shot into thick rough, leading to a critical bogey.
DeChambeau’s steady play allowed him to increase his lead, ultimately securing a six-stroke victory. His final round of 67 was the best of the day and made him the only player to never shoot over par throughout the tournament.
In third place was Louis Oosthuizen, while Harris English, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, and others displayed remarkable performances.
Despite challenges and unpredictability, DeChambeau’s triumph at Winged Foot will always be remembered as a testament to skill, determination, and adaptability in the world of golf.