With eagle on final hole at Winged Foot, DeChambeau shoots 68 for a 3-under total at midway point as afternoon wave gets underway
DeChambeau sank an 8-foot putt on the par-5 ninth hole, his 18thafter starting the day on the back nine, to shoot 2-under 68 for a 3-under 137 midway total at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Justin Thomas, the first-round leader at 5 under, was starting his second round (scores).
DeChambeau, the long-driving, calculating former physics student, cited a common mantra for his success so far: fairways and greens.
"I felt like a lot of things wereworking well for me," DeChambeau said. "I was driving it well. My iron play was impeccable. When I got into trouble, wasn't able to get out of it as well today as yesterday, but when I was in the fairway, I was able to attack and take advantage, and finished really well today."
His 2-under score was one of only two sub-par rounds in the morning wave. Bubba Watson shot 69 to sit at 1 over through 36 holes. In the first round, 21 players broke par on the suburban New York monster that was the site of the infamous “Massacre at Winged Foot” when Hale Irwin won the 1974 U.S. Open with a 7-over score. In the USGA’s most recent visit to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open, Geoff Ogilvy won with a 5-over aggregate in 2006.
Before his final hole, DeChambeau had an uneven day, with five birdies offsetting five bogeys. A six-time winner on the PGA Tour, DeChambeau led the Tour in driving distance last season, at 322.1 yards. His strategy this week at Winged Foot, to attack with driver off the tee despite pinched fairways and 4½-5-inch rough, raised a few eyebrows. But through 36 holes, it has worked.
After his first-round 69 on Thursday, DeChambeau camped out on Winged Foot's practice tee and worked on his wedge game, recalibrating distances and staying until dark. He wanted to practice under the cooler conditions that he would face Friday morning.
"So, my wedges yesterday weren't that good," he said. "I was flying them too far, and I wanted to know what the problem was, and we figured out what the problem was. It just was going farther than I thought it was. We didn't practice them as well as I should have leading up to this tournament, but we made that adjustment, and it worked out beautifully for me today."
He hit driver and pitching wedge to the 565-yard, par-5 ninth hole, leaving himself pin-high for an 8-foot eagle putt that he holed to get to 3 under.
DeChambeau, who turned 27 on Wednesday, has hoisted a USGA trophy in the past. He won the 2015 U.S. Amateur shortly after he won the NCAA Division I title at SMU. He turned pro in 2016, forgoing the spring semester of his senior season after SMU's golf program was put on probation by the NCAA and ruled ineligible for postseason play.
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