Bryson DeChambeau is shooting to be a repeat champion for the first time on the PGA Tour.
And he’s hoping to be more fortunate than the last time he defended a title.
The big hitter is back at Detroit Golf Club — where he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year by three shots — after collapsing with a chance to win the U.S. Open in consecutive years.
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DeChambeau has had nearly two weeks to analyze why he went from leading with nine holes to play at Torrey Pines to plummeting to a tie for 26th, nine strokes behind Jon Rahm.
So, what went wrong?
“Just luck,” he told reporters Wednesday.
DeChambeau nodded without saying a word and punched his right hand into his left palm when asked a follow-up question. Minutes later, he was more forthcoming when the topic was broached again and went into hole-by-hole detail about his U.S. Open meltdown.
“It’s just things compounding on each other that you just can’t necessarily control fully,” he said. “You hit a great shot, nothing happened for you.
DeChambeau acknowledged he got some breaks during his breakthrough performance at Winged Foot last year when he won the U.S. Open.
“People don’t realize how much luck plays a big factor,” DeChambeau said. “You can control a lot, but at the end of the day still, luck is a huge component of it.”
Apparently, Patrick Reed counts himself among the people who do not think luck is a pivotal factor that determines who wins on the PGA Tour.
“The guy who wins golf tournaments is usually the guy who’s playing best that week and is out there doing everything a little better than everyone else,” he said. “That’s what it takes to win golf tournaments. Four days, 72 holes, you’re going to get good bounces, you’re going to get bad bounces.”
Tournament officials are desperately hoping weather conditions go their way after a storm flooded sections of a highway and scores of homes near Detroit Golf Club during the Motor City’s rainiest day in 80 years.
Before he arrived in town, Reed was stunned by the images of the course.
“When they showed me a picture off of 10 tee, you saw the tee box and it just looked like a lake,” he recalled. “You couldn’t see the bunkers that you’re trying to carry on the left or the ones on the right. And 18, you saw a little bit of grass, but everything was under water. And 15, it was the tee box, and then after the tee box it was basically just nothing but water into the bunker that’s just short of the green.”
“Got to give all the credit to the superintendents and the people around here to get this place in that good of shape.”
Adding to the challenges for the tournament in its third year, the power went out early Wednesday morning at Detroit Golf Club.
“We don’t need power to go out to the golf course outside,” Reed said.
He went on to say, however, that not having air conditioning in the clubhouse could potentially pose a problem.
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“If power stayed out for a while, especially how hot and humid it gets here, you would get pretty sticky in (the clubhouse),” Reed said. “It’s just another little thing to add that you have to be mentally strong for and handle because anytime you get those little curveballs thrown at you, you have to figure out a way to just keep on pushing and get through it.”
Just two players ranked in the top 10 in the world — DeChambeau and Reed — and five of the top 25 are competing in Detroit this week. The field also includes 51-year-old Phil Mickelson, who missed a cut and finished tied for 62nd and 61st in three events since becoming the oldest major champion at the PGA Championship.
“It’s still a strong field,” DeChambeau insisted. “Anytime you’ve got players in the top 50, 100, they’re still great players. We’re all really good, we’re within a couple shots of each other, so anybody can win.”