DeChambeau motors down stretch for Detroit win

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A beefed up Bryson DeChambeau held off leader Matthew Wolff down the stretch to take a three-shot victory in the Rocket Mortgage Classic held in Detroit. AFP

Bryson DeChambeau held off overnight leader Matthew Wolff down the stretch on Sunday, firing a final-round 65 to capture the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three strokes.

DeChambeau continued his storybook start to the pandemic-stunted season, finishing the week at 23-under 265 to claim his sixth career win on the USPGA Tour.

He quickly erased Wolff’s three-shot lead to start the day but needed three straight closing birdies to seal the victory in a thrilling back-nine duel.

“I played really well on front nine and struck it beautifully,” said DeChambeau. “On the back nine I got a little tight. I didn’t hit driver the way I wanted to.

“I got a little unlucky on 14 going into water but I was able to persevere and do my best to make three birdies coming in to win.”

The 21-year-old Wolff, who was trying to become the youngest two-time winner on the Tour since Tiger Woods in 1996, birdied four of his final seven holes to shoot a 71.

DeChambeau has been the story of the USPGA Tour’s restart and was the favourite coming into this event. He now has a streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes thanks in large part to his bulked-up body which allowed him to overpower the Detroit Golf Club course.

Sunday’s win was his first since 2018 as he dominated the Michigan fairways with an average driving distance of 350 yards.

Wolff finished alone in second at 20-under 268 and Kevin Kisner was two shots back in third after a 66.

Canada’s Adam Hadwin, the US’ Ryan Armour, and Danny Willett and Tyrrell Hatton, both of England, were tied for fourth at 16-under, seven strokes behind DeChambeau.

World No10 DeChambeau and Wolff chose to come to the Motor City while many of the PGA Tour’s top players skipped the event.

In the PGA Tour’s first three events after the Covid-19 pandemic slammed the season, the top five players in the world ranking participated in each tournament.

None of the top five competed at the Detroit Golf Club and the field included just 18 of the top 50.

But that doesn’t take anything away from the power display that DeChambeau put on Sunday. He rolled in four birdies on the front nine then drained a 35-foot putt on the tenth to get to 21-under and a big lead.

He made another lengthy putt on 16 for the first of three consecutive birdies.

DeChambeau closed in style, blasting 367 yard drive on par-four No18. That set the stage for a dynamic finish, which included a stunning approach shot which landed just two feet from the flag.

Fist bump

He easily made the short putt then celebrated with a fist bump for his caddie.

Wolff, who missed the cut in each of his last two events, struggled early after three solid rounds. The 21-year-old hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since his dramatic maiden win at the 3M Open in Minnesota last July.

Wolff opened with a bogey and after pulling back that shot with a 53-foot birdie putt on the fourth, he had back-to-back bogeys at five and six.

He was 16-under with eight to play and tied for third before roaring back to life with two straight birdies on 12 and 13.

“I was telling myself to get back to what I was doing at beginning of the week and not worry about the outcome before it even happens.

He had a shot at an eagle on 17, landing his approach about eight feet from the hole, but his putt curled away at the cup for a miss by an inch.

Wolff said: “Those putts that didn’t go in, it was a little bumpy and it just wasn’t meant to be.

“I have that firepower that I can rattle off so many birdies in a row. I made four of the last seven with missing a couple of short ones.”