For Bryson DeChambeau, a Northern Trust Win That’s Not Like Him

For Bryson DeChambeau, a Northern Trust Win That’s Not Like Him

PARAMUS, N.J. — Bryson DeChambeau does not play golf casually. He fumes and frets and flips through geometric notes in a little book that bears his initials, B.A.D. He carries heavy bags under his eyes, the look of a frenzied scientist buried in a laboratory.

So with a sizable lead down the stretch at the Northern Trust tournament at Ridgewood Country Club, it was an unusual position for DeChambeau. He was not scratching and clawing for respect — as he says he has done throughout his career — but polishing up a week of pure domination.

DeChambeau may be golf’s truest iconoclast, with an unorthodox swing and a bag filled with irons and wedges all made the same size — 37.5 inches, or about that of a 7-iron.

But he is also a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, having seized the Memorial Tournament in a playoff in June and winning here on Sunday by four strokes with a four-round total of 266 in the first of four tournaments in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

DeChambeau shot 69 on Sunday for a cumulative score of 18 under par, which set a tournament record for par 71. Tony Finau (-14) finished second, and Billy Horschel and Cameron Smith tied for third at 13 under.

“I’ve been grinding and working really, really hard on my golf swing, and this golf course set up perfect for me,” DeChambeau said. “I was able to go out there and execute shots to the level that I know I can.”

Most of the sport’s biggest names barely contended on Sunday. Brooks Koepka shot 69 to finish at 11 under, and Dustin Johnson shot 68 to close at 10 under. Jordan Spieth, who shot 64 on Saturday to jolt the leaderboard, fell back with a 73 on Sunday and finished at seven under.

And it was another quiet round for Tiger Woods, who finished the week at four under par and in a tie for 40th after shooting 70 on Sunday.

But the 24-year-old DeChambeau might soon be adding his name to the list of golf’s elite. He leads the FedEx Cup standings and has eight top-10 finishes this season. With his win Sunday, he made a strong case to be one of Jim Furyk’s captain’s selections for the United States Ryder Cup team.

Just two years ago, DeChambeau attended the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in Minnesota — as a fan.

“I wanted to experience what it would be like,” he said on Saturday.

The desire to experience the real thing this time around became his inspiration this week. “I’m a man on a mission,” he said.

Woods might join him on the team, but his performance did little to help his case. He said he never felt able to establish momentum, and his putting was not sharp enough.

“The greens, sometimes they look good to you, sometimes they don’t,” Woods said. “All of my good putts went in at Bellerive” — the site of the P.G.A. Championship — “and the bad putts lipped out. This week, the good putts lipped out and the bad ones didn’t have a chance.”

Woods has committed to playing at the next stop in the FedEx Cup, next week’s Dell Technologies Championship in Boston, as well as the BMW Championship in Philadelphia the following week. His goal is to make the Ryder Cup team, and he is also expected to be a captain’s pick.

But while he has made strides in certain areas of his game since returning from spinal fusion surgery last year, he has yet to put it all together over a week. He said Sunday that he believed it was not too far away.

“Welcome to golf,” he said. “I’m sure you guys are used to seeing me win five times a year, or more. But it’s not that easy to win out here.”

Woods has struck up an unlikely friendship with DeChambeau, even if he might not follow all of DeChambeau’s jargon about the biomechanics of a golf swing.

Few can. DeChambeau, ranked No. 21 in the world, uses terms like standard deviation, tolerance and range to analyze his game. He puts in hours on the range, even after finishing a round. He said Sunday he had been working for days on a particular wedge shot that he needed only once the entire week.

“It mattered the most,” DeChambeau said, referring to a pitch on the 12th hole that set up a four-foot birdie putt.

It is those moments on the course — seeing all his hard work pay off in one precisely struck shot — that he relishes above all.

“All this other stuff is fantastic and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” DeChambeau said of his profession. “But the No. 1 thing that makes me happy is seeing a golf ball go exactly the way I felt it should go.”

DeChambeau began the day with a four-stroke lead over Keegan Bradley, with Finau and Smith trailing by five. But after he posted birdies on the first two holes, any potential drama quickly evaporated.

“Bryson was extremely tough to catch,” Finau said. “He didn’t really open a window for us.”

DeChambeau did not make it easy on himself on 18. His tee shot went well right, landing in the adjacent fairway. His caddie, Tim Tucker, went scrambling for distance information to the pin, trying to use whatever nearby landmarks might give him the best estimation.

In the end, it didn’t matter: DeChambeau knocked it on the green from there and two-putted to seal the easy victory.

When it was over, he raised his arms above his head. And breathed a sigh of relief.

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