(Reuters) – Physics major Bryson DeChambeau worked out all the angles to win the John Deere Classic in Illinois on Sunday and earn a spot in next week’s British Open.
DeChambeau, a former amateur champion, sank a 14-foot birdie putt at the final hole to clinch his first PGA Tour victory in style.
He stormed home with six back-nine birdies to card 65 and finish at 18-under-par 266 at TPC Deere Run, one stroke ahead of fellow American Patrick Rodgers, who bogeyed the par-five 17th.
DeChambeau, 23, is known for his revolutionary approach to the game. He plays with all of his irons the same length, which he believes is a mechanically superior approach.
“I’ve been working so hard my whole life to try to do this. To have it happen at the John Deere is incredible,” he told CBS television, tears in his eyes as the emotions spilled out.
DeChambeau felt the victory justified his decision to eschew tradition with his scientific approach to the game.
“I think that’s the true meaning behind what I try and do,” he said. “I show everybody there’s plenty of ways to do it and I like doing it my way and I feel comfortable doing it my way. Whatever way you want to do it out there, you can do it.”
He was thrilled that his victory includes an invitation to the British Open, which starts on Thursday. “I can’t believe it,” he said.
Chambeau was an after-thought for most of the final round, timing his run perfectly, an excellent two-putt birdie at the par-five 17th bringing him within one stroke of the lead.
He then rifled his approach shot to the par-four 18th, his ball landing just short of the hole before trickling beyond, not as close as he would have liked but not bad under the circumstances.
His putt appeared to be sliding off to the right, but it caught the edge of the hole and toppled in, prompting a Tiger Woods-like series of fist pumps as the large gallery went wild.
The birdie gave DeChambeau a share of the lead with Rodgers, who minutes later bogeyed the penultimate hole after his approach shot found the green but forced him to chip over a bunker blocking the line to the hole.
Rodgers, like DeChambeau, was playing for a spot in the British Open, with the top finisher not already exempt earning a ticket to Royal Birkdale.
Rodgers parred the last and had to settle for second place after a round of 70.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)