Bryson DeChambeau’s power was on full display on his final hole at Winged Foot Golf Club early Friday afternoon.
Playing the 557-yard, par-5 ninth, DeChambeau unleashed a 380-yard drive that went into the right fairway. From there, he hit a pitching wedge from 178 yards to 6 feet and made the eagle putt.
That gave DeChambeau a 2-under-par 68 — the lowest round of the morning wave — and gave him the clubhouse lead at the 120th U.S. Open at 137, 3 under par. First-round leader Justin Thomas began the second round at 5 under par.
“I felt a lot of things were working well for me,” said DeChambeau, who along with Bubba Watson were the only players to shoot under par among the 72 players who teed off in the morning. “I was driving it well. My iron play was impeccable. When I got into trouble, I 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.
“A great drive on 9 that just set me up to be able to attack the flag today, and that was a fun way to finish off at the U.S. Open so far. It’s great.”
DeChambeau, 27, has been the subject of considerable attention since embarking last year on a weight-gaining and muscle-building program that has seen him add about 40 pounds.
The results have led to one of the longest drives in golf, in addition to his unique approach to the game that includes using single-length shafts for his irons.
But among the big questions was whether that philosophy would translate to a tree-lined, rough-filled, narrow-fairway U.S. Open setup such as Winged Foot.
So far, so good.
“I want it to play as hard as possible,” said DeChambeau, a six-time PGA Tour winner who tied for fourth last month at the PGA Championship and is ranked ninth in the world. “I feel like there’s so many holes out here that I can take advantage of that some people can’t.
“Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to win or anything. You’ve still got to execute, you’ve still got to hit the driver straight. If I’m hitting the driver far but all over the place, you can’t make birdies from the rough. It’s very difficult. So I still have to work on hitting it straight while hitting it far. And that’s a unique combo that I’m going to strive for for the rest of my life.”
After opening the tournament with a 69, DeChambeau played his first seven holes Friday with three birdies and three bogeys. He added two more birdies and two more bogeys on the front side at Winged Foot before his closing eagle put him near the top of the leaderboard.
Although DeChambeau hit just seven of 14 fairways, he was leading the field in strokes gained off the tee and was averaging 332 yards. He also hit 12 of 18 greens.
Given the difficulty of the course, DeChambeau figures to be among the last groups out on Saturday. Prior to his finish at the PGA last month, DeChambeau’s best result in a major championship was a tie for 15th.
“I feel great,” he said. “Confidence is at an all-time high right now, driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day, and I’m putting it like I know I can. So very happy.”