- September 29, 2016
In the last four years, Bryson DeChambeau has had his shot at winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Each time, he always came up short — having finished in the top five twice.
But on this windy Sunday afternoon at Bay Hill, DeChambeau didn’t let the past — or Lee Westwood, who sat one stroke back — deter him from doing what he had to do to win.
After watching the Englishman knock down a putt from about six feet out to stay at -10, DeChambeau needed to follow up by draining the 5-footer in front of him. He lined up his putt and stood over the ball before stepping back and taking another look — missing this putt would put him tied at -10 with Westwood, sending it to a playoff.
DeChambeau stepped up to the ball and cooly knocked in his putt to stay 11-under to finish the day with a 71 and claim the ever-elusive prize at Bay Hill during the final round of play Sunday, March 7.
“I’m glad I made that last putt,” said DeChambeau, who recorded rounds of 67, 71, 68 and 71 through the four-day tournament. “I did not want to go into a playoff. I took a little extra time on that, because I knew that ball was aimed a little too far right, and sure enough, it was. I took a deep breath (and) was able to execute and knock it in.”
In a tournament filled with incredible moments — which included aces from Jordan Spieth and Jazz Janewattananond during the third round on Saturday — DeChambeau managed to be the showstopper during the four-day event.
DeChambeau has become widely known for his sheer power off the tee, and he put that on full display at the par-5 sixth (565-yard) hole. While most who approach the hole work their way around the lake that stands between the tee box and flag, DeChambeau did what he does best: Attack.
On both Saturday and Sunday, DeChambeau grabbed his driver and drilled the ball over the lake. At Sunday’s attempt, DeChambeau hit a ball speed of a scorching 196 mph and sent it 377 yards — putting him only 88 yards from the pin.
In these moments, DeChambeau thought about the famous words of Arnold Palmer, who often said, “You must play boldly to win.” For DeChambeau, he saw himself as living up to just that.
“It was a lot of fun, and I was definitely playing a little bold,” DeChambeau said. “But … my hat’s off to Lee. He battled all day out there, and it was an amazing battle, loved every minute of it. I know we’ll be doing it for years to come.”
Along with the earnings of just over $1.6 million, the win served as DeChambeau’s eighth victory on the PGA TOUR and pushed him into the No. 1 position of the FedEx Cup standings. But more than anything, it was a moment to embrace a win at the place built by one of his biggest heroes.
“It’s beyond my wildest dreams for Mr. Palmer’s event,” DeChambeau said. “(I) came here as an amateur, he gave me an invitation, and I loved this golf course the minute I arrived. I love the atmosphere, and I love the fans — I loved what Mr. Palmer did with this place and what he’s done and his legacy he’s left here. It’s quite amazing.”