MAMARONECK, N.Y. (Reuters) – Bryson DeChambeau sensed a cold front moving into Winged Foot on Thursday so he headed to the course for a late night practice session, a decision that paid off on Friday when he carded his second straight sub-par round at the U.S. Open.
DeChambeau had a busy second day that included five birdies, five bogeys and a closing eagle for a two-under-par 68 and a share of first place as he chases a first major title.
“I was out here last night, I knew it was going to be cooler and so I waited and was able to hit balls almost in dark,” he said.
“I knew it was going to be similar conditions so we got some good numbers with my wedges and I felt really comfortable today.”
Ahead of the tournament it was not clear how the 27-year-old’s game would work at Winged Foot, which rewards accuracy off the tee and crafty putting more than sheer power.
But he proved on Friday he has more to his game than just jaw-dropping drives, and the affable American was brimming with confidence after grabbing the early lead.
“I feel great,” he said.
“Confidence is at an all-time high right now. Driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day, and I’m putting it like I know I can. So I’m very happy.”
DeChambeau, who has quietly become one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, said six-time U.S. Open runner-up Phil Mickelson told him before the tournament that he should be prepared to scramble at the challenging course.
“Phil gave me some great advice. He said when he almost won back in 2006, he said he had the best short game week of his life, so that’s just a testament to showing that you have to have a great wedge game out here,” he said.
“I feel like my irons are great, the wedges are better, and short game needs to be worked on just a little bit.
“But I would say it’s been good so far, and that’s what I’m going to hopefully do this weekend.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)