Bryson DeChambeau has broken golf -- literally and maybe figuratively as well. He won for the first time in 18 months on Sunday at the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic by shooting a 7-under 65 in the final round at Detroit Golf Club to take down Matthew Wolff by three strokes.
The numbers are astonishing: first in driving distance, first in strokes gained off the tee, first in putting and the longest driving performance in a win in PGA Tour history. These stats should not normally go together. Bryson has somehow blended them all up and created the perfect modern prototype for contending on the PGA Tour. His round on Sunday -- like his week in Detroit -- was a tour de force. He bull-rushed the front nine to the tune of a 32 that flipped the leaderboard on poor Wolff, who saw his lead evaporate in about an hour.
The back nine was a little bumpier, but he closed with a suddenly-smoking putter that makes the rest of this completely unfair for the field. The final hole was a microcosm of the week -- 367-yard drive, wedge in for his third straight birdie to shut down the win. Kevin Kisner, who finished third behind DeChambeau and Wolff, summed it up nicely after his round. "He's changed the way the game is played," Kisner told Amanda Balionis of CBS Sports.
It may be a little early for that, but it also might not be. Time will tell, but golf has certainly felt different over the last month than it did before, mostly because of Bryson. He's changed the way the game is cataloged, too. On multiple occasions this weekend, DeChambeau broke Shotlink, the laser system used to determine strokes gained on the PGA Tour. His drives were so close to so many greens at Detroit Golf Club that the system was reading them as approach shots instead of drives. As a result, it seemed as if his iron and wedge play was a lot worse than it actually was. It's hard for your wedge play to be bad when you have just over 100 yards into every green.
So the field is going to have to adapt, and so are the volunteers who run Shotlink. Bryson himself is going to have to adapt, too. After petulantly chastising a cameraman on Saturday, saying that he needed privacy on the course for a temper-tantrum and noting that his brand (and those of his colleagues) needs protecting, he's not going to get much sympathy down the road from fans or the media.
The good news for him is that he'll have to continue answering questions about bizarre outbursts like that because he's going to be a top-10 player in the world for a long time. This is his seventh straight top-10 showing on the PGA Tour and fourth in a row since the PGA Tour returned amid this pandemic. The first three of those came on short courses where he doesn't have as much of an advantage. This one came at a track that's more similar to the ones in which the PGA Tour normally plays.
In his sixth career PGA Tour win, Bryson broke a lot of things -- Shotlink, the veil of his perception and possibly the sport all among them. He'll be among the more complex characters moving forward from here. That's a great thing for golf, though, because every angle is interesting. Time will tell whether this game (and his diet) can endure in the long-term, but for the time being, the best player in golf is also maybe currently its most polarizing. Grade: A+
Matthew Wolff (2): The late charge was a thrill, but this event was lost on the front nine on Sunday. While Bryson went out in 32, Wolff was busy making a mess with a 38 that included four bogeys. He lost strokes from tee to green on seven of the nine holes. He was clearly a different golfer than he'd been for the first three days. The week on the whole, though, is a great thing for him. He hasn't been in contention as much as he would have liked since winning the 3M Open a year ago this week, and he doesn't have a top 10 at all since then. Contending like he did in Detroit is always beneficial for somebody that young and that good, and this one will help (not hurt) his game going forward. Grade: A
Webb Simpson (T8): I really expected more from Simpson on the weekend. He shot 71-70 on Saturday and Sunday, which wasn't bad but wasn't nearly enough firepower to go get his second win in three weeks. The putter let him down all week until it popped at the end when it was already too late. That my expectations were so high is a testament to the level Webb is playing at right now as one of the top handful of guys in the world. Grade: B+
Rickie Fowler (T12): The bad news here is that Fowler narrowly made the cut as one of the headliners of this event. The good news is that his swing may have finally clicked into place on the weekend. He finished in the top 10 on both Saturday and Sunday in strokes gained tee to green and nearly nabbed a top-10 showing for his work. The game will come around at some point, and this might have been the beginning of the upswing. Grade: A-