MEMFIS, Tenn. – For the better part of two months, nothing was easy Bryson DeChambeau.
The latest example took place on Sunday at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, where the eight-time PGA Tournament evaporated a chance to win with a few balls in the water on the back nine.
His 4 strokes lost in the last nine holes to level him, gave him a shot on a sudden play-off match at TPC Southwind, won by Abraham Ancer.
He finished with a 4-over-par 74 a day after shooting at 63 on Saturday, tied for eighth and leaving after another frustrating week in which he was criticized for his response to questions about his positive COVID-19 test that keeps him from playing in the Olympics.
DeChambeau, 27, refused to interview press reporters all week in response to the setback and was unavailable after the round on Sunday.
It started well enough with birdies at two of the first three holes on Sunday to make him draw Harris Engels, and he follows his first bogey with another birdie.
Then he got a breather when his tea-shot on the par-4 sixth was barely in bounds — it required a decision with officials using a rope to determine that part of the ball was in play — and then he gets a free kick because the ball was against a temporary mesh fence. And it got even better, as his position would have been on a cart, which could further illuminate him.
But DeChambeau could not take advantage and hit his next shot into a tree, resulting in a bogey. Soon he and English got a warning for a slow game and then started getting time on the 11th hole.
DeChambeau found water at both the 10th and 11th holes, the second one leading to a triple-bogey 6.
“It’s just hard to chase like that,” said Engels, who finished fourth and missed the playoffs after shooting 73. ‘I made a double at 11, Bryson tripled and you can’t catch up. From 12 I felt like we were running.
“And it’s hard out there – the wind is picking up. Clearly there are a lot of good pins. You’re trying to win a championship and it’s hard. I do not really like to accelerate like that or feel like I’m racing, but I need to get better. ”
It is known that DeChambeau was carefully on the track, but he had his fight on Sunday which explains it. He hit just five of 14 fairways and only eight of 18 greens.
Prior to the tournament, DeChambeau said he had lost “8 to 10 pounds” after his positive COVID-19 test and had only resumed a few days earlier.
“I do not expect much,” he said. ‘I just go through a whole week and feel comfortable and then do it again and get my golf swing in a place where I’m comfortable. So maybe some lower expectations this week.
And yet he played very well through three rounds, with a score of 65, 66 and 63.
After each round, DeChambeau refused to speak to reporters because of the attention he paid to his battle with COVID-19 and the vaccines. Three reporters – one each from ESPN, Golfweek and the Golf Channel – spoke to him about what happened.
“The vaccine does not necessarily prevent it,” DeChambeau said Wednesday. ‘I’m young enough, I’d rather give it [the vaccine] to people who need it. I do not need it. I am a healthy, young individual who will continue to work on my health.
“I do not think it is a good thing to take the vaccine away from someone who needs it. My father is a good example. He got it (the vaccine) early because he is diabetic. People like it has to get it. My Mom got it right. I do not want to take away the ability.
“If time goes on, if it (the vaccine) is mainstream, really, really mainstream, then yes.”
DeChambeau received considerable criticism, especially on social media, for the comments because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that vaccines were readily and abundantly available in the United States, and that the majority of cases of COVID -19 last week – – more than 90% – are among people who have not been vaccinated.
It was just another example of the drama that had overwhelmed DeChambeau for months.
In addition to the ongoing feud with Brooks Koepka, he shot 44 over the last nine holes on Torrey Pines as he led the U.S. Open and was tied for the 26th; he divorces his longtime caddy, Tim Tucker, in front of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where he misses the track; he frustratedly summoned his equipment, saying that his ‘driver sucks’ to the first round of The Open, and pushes back Cobra, his equipment maker and underwriter.
And then he tested positive for COVID-19, which knocked him out of the Olympics.
It was generally a good week for DeChambeau, though it was hard to swallow a nine in a row that denied him a chance at victory. Now he has a week to regroup before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs, in which he is seventh on the standings.