WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — In September 2019, Bryson DeChambeau was among the field at A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier.
In what was the ninth time the PGA TOUR held a tournament at the Old White Course, DeChambeau opened with a 68 and followed with a 70 to finish 2-under par through two rounds. Though respectable, it left DeChambeau two shots off the cut line and brought an end to his week early in what marked the final PGA Tour event at the venue for the foreseeable future.
That was DeChambeau’s second time competing at Old White. He finished tied for 14th at 8-under par during his 2017 debut, highlighted by a second-round 66 and a final round 65.
“There’s been a lot of great history around this golf course,” DeChambeau said. “I always felt, coming out here in 2017 and 2019, this golf course always fit my eye really, really well. After 2019 I was like, ‘I want another chance at this, I want another go at it.’”
Forty-seven months later, that opportunity came about for DeChambeau, who left the PGA Tour in June 2022 and joined LIV golf.
In the first of three rounds Friday at Old White, DeChambeau carded a 2-under par 68, a rather pedestrian score that left him behind half of the 48-player field.
On Saturday, DeChambeau responded with the best second round, carding a 61 that allowed him to tie the low LIV round in the league’s history. It featured nine birdies, including six on the back nine, which DeChambeau played in 30 shots. He closed with consecutive birdies to pull to within one shot of co-leaders Matthew Wolff and David Puig.
“Drove it really well, actually didn’t drive it as well as I did yesterday, but I scored so much better,” DeChambeau said after the second round. “Made a lot of putts. Had a couple 30-footers in there that you’ve got to have in order to shoot 8-, 9-under, and hit some good iron shots in there. The greens are super soft, and I spun a lot of wedges off the flag. Work on that a little bit, try and dial that in. Otherwise it was a fantastic round and excited for tomorrow.”
Somehow, that 61 paled in comparison for what was to come Sunday.
Playing with Wolff and Puig in the final group, the trio started on No. 1 and DeChambeau became the outright leader early by making birdie on the first two holes. A par on the challenging, 220-yard par-3 third was followed by a stretch of four straight birdies, including holing out a bunker shot on No. 5 and blasting a drive on the 390-yard par 4 seventh that finished within 10 yards of the green and left DeChambeau in an ideal spot for a pitch-and-putt.
“It was insane,” Puig said. “I think he was beating me by eight strokes after seven holes. I’m like, there’s two things here — one, I suck probably, and two, he’s insane.”
DeChambeau’s lone bogey of the round came on the 238-yard par 3 eighth, though he immediately bounced back with a birdie on No. 9 to make the turn in 28. No. 8 was the only hole on the front nine DeChambeau did not make a 3 on.
DeChambeau made birdies on the 10th and 12th holes with a par in between. Pars at the 13th and 14th holes followed, and though eventual runner-up Mito Pereira remained within striking distance, DeChambeau was in complete control.
As he stepped to the tee box at the 216-yard par 3 15th hole, steady rain began to fall. It had been forecasted and forced Sunday tee times to be moved up 4 hours.
Still, DeChambeau had to navigate the challenging conditions down the stretch to win for the first time on LIV. The tee shot on No. 15 showed he would have no trouble doing just that as DeChambeau blasted a 9-iron that came to rest 7 feet from the hole. He capitalized by converting the birdie putt. At that point, DeChambeau was 9-under par and the course record of 59 was well within reach.
He took advantage of the par-4 16th playing much shorter than what it had the first two rounds and got to 10-under par for the day with his 11th birdie.
Then came the par 5 17th — the course’s longest hole at 615 yards. DeChambeau made his 12th birdie of the day and it left him needing a par or better on the 18th hole for a round in the 50s.
One of the more unique closing holes in major professional golf, the par-3 18th measured 188 yards Sunday. Regardless of distance, the best chance for a birdie is to have the tee shot land and stay on the proper level, avoiding the large horseshoe ridge that makes it difficult to identify proper speed and read on the putt.
DeChambeau hit a solid tee shot, though it didn’t remain on the proper level, and instead left him a putt of just inside 40 feet. He had not made a putt outside 20 feet through his first 17 holes, and now needed to hole one from double that distance inside the horseshoe for the first round of 58 at Old White.
The putt was read and struck perfectly and rolled directly into the hole, causing DeChambeau to leap into the air as he put the finishing touches on a 58 and a six-shot victory at 23-under par for the tournament.
“As I approached the putt, I’m thinking, don’t give myself a three-footer. It was just get it as close as possible,” DeChambeau said. “Once we did a bit of the calculations, it was like, all right, it’s a 40-footer, and I hit a 40-footer to start off every single day in practice. I know exactly what a 40-footer feels like. So I just made that feeling, I stroked it, and it was perfectly on line. Three-fourths of the way there I’m like, ‘oh, my gosh, this isn’t going to go in, is it?’ And I’m like, ‘this is for 58, this is for 58, this is for 58,’ and then I explode. That was fun.”
5️⃣8️⃣ FOR THE TITLE!
A FIRST WIN FOR BRYSON, AND A FIRST ROUND UNDER 60 IN #LIVGOLF HISTORY! 😱
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) August 6, 2023
DeChambeau was appreciative of the large turnout that that stuck around and witnessed the ending to the historic round.
“The passion that these fans have out here, they’re looking for something, and I think that’s why this is such a great venue,” he said. “You’ve got 12 teams out there to root for. You pick whoever you want. Then you’ve obviously got the individual side, so it gives people numerous opportunities to enjoy and have a unique experience, and the fans were awesome on that last hole. Making that putt and seeing everybody just go nuts in that stadium sort of atmosphere was pretty electric.”
On Sunday, DeChambeau had 23 putts to go with an average driving distance of 345.3 yards. He hit 10 of a possible 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
In the process, Old White became the first course to yield three sub-60 rounds in major professional golf. Stuart Appleby did so in 2010 with a closing 59 to win the PGA Tour’s first event at the course, and Kevin Chappell did it during the second round in 2019.
“Luckily, LIV was able to secure this and I was able to come back here and play the best golf I’ve played in a long time with a lot of the greats,” DeChambeau said. “Just having my place in history here is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”