OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Bryson DeChambeau stood subsequent to his golf bag on the primary tee, considering which membership to hit on the opening gap of Saturday’s third spherical on the BMW Championship. When he retrieved an iron reasonably than his highly effective driver, a groan erupted from followers crammed right into a grandstand overlooking the tee.
DeChambeau turned, shrugged and stated, “Sorry, next hole.”
“We want the driver every hole,” a voice yelped.
“I know,” DeChambeau muttered. “I know.”
It has been powerful for DeChambeau to make anybody completely happy the previous two months, which is one other flip of fortune within the capricious world he has inhabited since early 2020. Fittingly, on the up-and-down, topographically various format of the Caves Valley Golf Club outdoors Baltimore, that has modified for DeChambeau within the final two days.
On Saturday, someday after a 12-under-par 60 had given him the event lead, DeChambeau was principally enveloped by cacophonous cheers as he shot a five-under 67, in a spherical that included eagles on consecutive holes, 5 birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. Patrick Cantlay, who started the day trailing by one stroke, shot a 66 to tie DeChambeau at 21 beneath for the general event lead.
But extra on that later.
First, to recap the topsy-turvy summer time of 2021 for the divisive American golfer.
In June, main within the last phases of the United States Open, DeChambeau, the defending champion, collapsed with a 44 on his last 9 holes. He credited unhealthy luck.
Within two weeks, DeChambeau cut up together with his longtime caddie, Tim Tucker, who had carried DeChambeau’s golf bag for every of his eight PGA Tour victories. Days earlier than his subsequent main championship, the British Open, DeChambeau had to defiantly dispute accusations that he failed to yell “Fore” and imperiled spectators within the path of his lengthy, and generally wayward, tee photographs. Then, after a middling opening spherical on the occasion, he adamantly blamed his driver for his troubles, which introduced a swift rebuke from a consultant of his gear sponsor, Cobra, who in contrast DeChambeau to an Eight-year-old youngster. DeChambeau apologized.
Later that month, though he was one in every of 4 American golfers who had certified for the Tokyo Olympics, DeChambeau had to withdraw after a positive Covid test. He said that he had not been vaccinated because he was young and healthy and had not wanted to take the dose away from someone who needed it more. His remarks were ridiculed.
All of this has been set against the backdrop of an ongoing social media feud with his fellow tour pro Brooks Koepka, which has been exacerbated by noisy, giggling fans in tour galleries who taunt DeChambeau with shouts of, “Let’s go, Brooks-y.”
Consider, for example, this interchange among spectators alongside the third green Saturday.
Listening to cheers after DeChambeau had birdied the hole, a young boy asked his father, “Is Bryson everyone’s favorite?”
“Yeah, everybody likes Bryson,” the man replied.
Said a fan standing nearby, “Brooks doesn’t.”
What does DeChambeau think of all that has transpired since June?
It is hard to say, as DeChambeau, in the weeks since he acknowledged that he had not received a Covid vaccine, has declined to speak with reporters covering the PGA Tour, except for the tour’s broadcast partners and a golf news outlet that pays him as a contributor.
On Saturday, DeChambeau began his round with a routine birdie on the par-3 third hole but then sank an eagle putt of 25 feet on the par-5 fourth and a 53-foot eagle putt on the par-4 fifth. DeChambeau made the turn at 30 and continued to cruise when he knocked his second shot to the par-4 11th hole to within a foot of the hole for another birdie and a four-stroke lead over Cantlay. But on his approach shot to the 12th, DeChambeau sliced a long iron into a bordering pond. (Broadcast microphones picked up DeChambeau blaming a smudge of mud on top of the ball for the mis-hit, although the television camerawork also seemed to show that DeChambeau’s club face was open, which would induce a slice.)
The miscue led to DeChambeau’s first bogey in 30 holes, and he followed that setback with another ball plunked into the water protecting the front of the par-3 13th hole. The error led to a double bogey. The large, raucous crowd that had been following DeChambeau seemed thunderstruck.
But DeChambeau rallied by draining a 10-foot birdie putts on the 14th and 16th holes. He also needed four shots to reach the 489-yard par-4 15th hole and made bogey. In the end, 67 was a splendid score considering that DeChambeau had hit only nine of 14 fairways. He was, however, second in the field in driving distance.
Cantlay, a measured, methodical player, made his charge more consistently, with an eagle, a birdie and seven pars on the front nine. Playing with DeChambeau and the reigning U.S. Open champion, Jon Rahm, Cantlay surged as the others in his group floundered, making birdies on three consecutive holes beginning with the 11th. It appeared that Cantlay was going to be the solo third-round leader until his tee shot on the 18th hole found the rough and served as the catalyst to a closing bogey.
Still, as he had been trailing by four strokes with seven holes remaining in the third round, Cantlay was asked afterward if he had been energized when DeChambeau deposited two balls in the water.
“No, I felt pretty much the same, just working on my business,” said Cantlay, who rarely shows emotion on the golf course. “I’m just trying to stay in my own little bubble out there. I feel like that’s the best way I can go about doing my thing and gives me the best chance to succeed.”