bryson-dechambeau-2021-bmw.png
Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau has made a career out of chasing (and catching) numbers, but there was one that eluded him Friday in Round 2 of the BMW Championship. DeChambeau shot a 12-under 60 that included a missed putt from just over 6 feet on the 18th hole for what would have been just the 12th 59 in PGA Tour history.

After going out in 29, a 59 seemed at least within striking distance on a day at Caves Valley Golf Club in which players were playing lift, clean and place in the fairways. That magic number is always slippery, even with just one or two holes left, but DeChambeau at least didn't play his way out of it early on the second nine.

He kept things moving in the right direction over the first six holes on the back nine, playing them in 3 under. Then, after he hit a 346-yard drive and a 252-yard approach to 3 feet on the par-5 16th hole and sank that for eagle to get to 12 under, the hunt was truly on. All he needed was a birdie at one of the final two holes (a par-3 and a par-4) for the 59.

DeChambeau hit a nice tee shot on the 17th but missed a putt from 17 feet for birdie. No. 18 was the one he'll fall asleep thinking about. A 333-yard drive was followed by a 142-yard approach to 6 feet, 3 inches.

It didn't even touch the hole.

"I had the right speed, I misread the putt," DeChambeau told Golf Channel after his round. "It was an awesome opportunity. I had a couple of birdie opportunities on 17 and 18. It didn't happen, but I'm still really proud of the way I handled myself, and it was great to feel some pressure again, which was awesome."

DeChambeau's day was statistically incredible, as most 60s are. He shot 29-31, put 3s on his card 12 times (including twice on par 5s) and finished first in the field both on his approach shots and from tee to green overall. He hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and didn't have a par putt longer than 5 feet. It was a nearly flawless round of golf.

"I knew all day if I continued to hit fairways and greens, I could give myself a really good chance to shoot 9 or 10 under round today," DeChambeau told Golf Channel. "I didn't know I could get it to 12 or possibly 13 under. … I'll look back on this round, and I gained a lot of momentum from today."

It also got him into contention at Caves Valley. DeChambeau led at the time he finished at 16 under as he chases his third win of the season. It has not gone all that well for him this summer. The last two times he's gotten into contention on a Sunday (U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational), he's gone on to shoot something in the 40s coming home to eject out of the top spot.

There will be a lot of pressure (and a huge spotlight) on him on Sunday if he maintains his play in Round 3. With the Tour Championship next week, a potential PGA Tour Player of the Year award on the line and the ever-looming Ryder Cup next month, DeChambeau has a lot of questions to answer (figuratively) considering he has just two top-10 finishes since March.

One thing DeChambeau didn't do after his round on Friday is answer literal questions. Following a report at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational a few weeks ago about his vaccination status (which DeChambeau went on the record about), he has refused to talk to any print or online media following all of his rounds, including this one. DeChambeau did speak to Golf Channel following the 60 and didn't seem too disappointed by his miss on No. 18.

"It's just one shot," DeChambeau told Golf Channel. "Plenty of holes where I could have made a birdie. Having that pressure there, not making it. I still executed a good putt. Just didn't break the way I wanted it to. That's all I can ask for."

DeChambeau is too good for a 60 to be all that meaningful in light of the greater goal (winning golf tournaments). For him, this is merely a jumping-off point for the rest of this weekend, a turbo boost toward what he really has his eyes on, which is a ninth PGA Tour win and his first FedEx Cup. Friday was special — almost really special — and it was the best round of his career on the PGA Tour. But if you ask him if he would rather have the 59 on Friday or the win on Sunday, you don't need him to lift his media boycott to know the answer. Despite not shooting 59 on Friday, DeChambeau is smart enough to understand the difference between which numbers are fun to chase and which ones he most wants to catch.