The Players: Final-day frustration for Bryson DeChambeau, but what happened at the fourth?
Early mistakes at the fourth leave Bryson DeChambeau with too much ground to make up, but he was delighted to contend on a Sawgrass course unsuited to his power strategy as he reflected on a podium finish
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 15/03/21 12:02am
Bryson DeChambeau declared himself "proud" of his performance at The Players Championship as he reflected on a frustrating final day that left him two shots behind champion Justin Thomas.
"That's golf," was his abrupt answer to what went wrong for him on Sunday at Sawgrass, a day which started with him just two behind Lee Westwood, but a series of errors at the fourth was just too much for him to fight back from as Thomas stormed to victory with a closing 68.
DeChambeau denied that he topped his tee shot with a hybrid at the fourth, his ball nose-diving into water less than 150 yards away, and the mistake was compounded when the face of his four-iron cracked on his third shot, sending his ball way right and deep into the trees.
He did well to hole from seven feet for double-bogey, but he was unable to convert a number of chances to get back into serious contention until he birdied 12 and 13, only to drop another shot at the 14th and slip three behind his playing partner.
An eagle at the 16th left him needing a birdie-birdie finish to tie Thomas on 14 under, but he parred 17 and 18 to finish joint-third behind Westwood, who birdied the last to snatch outright second place.
"I was hitting it pretty good for the most part, but I don't know what happened on the fourth," DeChambeau said. "That's the game, I'm OK with it and still smiling after. I fought really hard, it just seemed like something wasn't going my way today for some reason.
"I could feel it. It was weird. Just numerous putts that I hit, it was like, 'OK, that's a really good putt', and it didn't go in. There were a few putts in the beginning that just didn't go my way. That's golf.
"But it's one of those things that just didn't have it all today. I was proud of the way I fought, proud of the way I persevered, and there's still more tournaments to be had."
DeChambeau insisted he felt in better form than when he pipped Westwood to the Arnold Palmer Invitational title at Bay Hill last week, but conceded his torrid time at the fourth was too much to overcome.
"I actually felt way better today," he added. "Like from an execution level, doing what I did on 18, that was the most comfortable I've felt in a long time, even 17 and 16 and 15. All the swings were, for the most part, really comfortable, and I was playing good golf.
"Just things didn't pan out the way that they, I thought, should have, and I set myself behind the eight ball quick, and I wasn't able to recover fast enough."
The US Open champion was also delighted to contend at a venue that stifled his all-out power tactics, being forced to hit irons and hybrids off a number of tees while also having to keep his driver under wraps at a couple of the par-fives.
"I know I can play on golf courses that don't really suit me, that's a big lesson learned," he said. "I'd also say, no matter what happens, no matter if I pop a shot, no matter if I thin it, whatever it was at the fourth, and make a really good double when it could have been triple or quad, I'm still never out of it for the most part.
"I know my game is good enough in most facets to get it back and compete with the best of them. So it's just a little bit of a learning block, and I'm going to go back and work really hard on my golf swing and figure out how to be less sensitive.
"I was more sensitive last week and pulled out the victory, but I got a little lucky. The putts just didn't fall today. I hit a lot of great putts that didn't go in. That's the unfortunate part about golf sometimes. It is what it is.
"But hats off to JT for playing the way he did on that back nine. It was very impressive. That's why he's one of the best players in the world and will continue to be one of the best players in the world for a long time."