Bryson DeChambeau’s results since joining LIV Golf early last season have not met his lofty standards, but the Crushers GC captain has the opportunity to change that Sunday at LIV Golf Andalucía.
Thanks to a brilliant bogey-free 8-under 63 that ended with eagle on his final hole, DeChambeau will take a one-shot lead into the final round at Valderrama as he seeks his first LIV Golf title and 11th worldwide win of his professional career. DeChambeau came within one shot of tying the course record Saturday while shooting his lowest round in LIV Golf.
“It was a fantastic round,” DeChambeau said. “I had a lot of great things happen to me, but I also struck it really like I’ve been wanting to, and whenever I got nervous, I was able to stripe it down the middle or hit a shot that was in the right position on the golf course. I was pretty excited about the way I played today.”
The bogey-free round is the only one recorded through the first two days on the challenging layout at Valderrama. At 9 under through two rounds, DeChambeau leads Individual Champion points leader Talor Gooch by one stroke and reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka by three. Gooch and Koepka each have won two LIV Golf tournaments and will be in the final group with DeChambeau, who is playing in the lead group for the first time in a LIV Golf final round.
“They’re playing incredible,” DeChambeau said. “You’ve got a major champion and then a guy that’s won two LIV events in a row. They’re going to be biting at the heels, and I’ve just got to be steadfast and in my own little zone and get after it.”
DeChambeau’s Crushers and Gooch’s RangeGoats GC are also tied on the team leaderboard at 10 under, with Torque GC two strokes back in third. The Crushers and RangeGoats each have one team victory this season, while Torque claimed its second win of the season at LIV Golf’s previous event in DC.
Gooch reeled off three consecutive birdies early in his round and assumed the lead in the afternoon after a string of five birdies in six holes. But a late bogey and DeChambeau’s eagle flipped the individual leaderboard late in the day.
Gooch, whose previous wins this season came in Adelaide and Singapore, will be looking for his third victory outside the U.S. this season.
“It’s been so cool to see Bryson trending and how well he’s been playing here the last few months,” Gooch said. “We were halfway through the round and of course we’re paired with him tomorrow, and we’re like, oh, now I kind of don’t want him to play well tomorrow.
“We played the final round together in Singapore, me and Brooks did, and he’s one of the greatest of our generation. It’s going to be another great challenge and experience to go and try to beat him tomorrow.”
Koepka opened his round with a bogey on the 16th hole but bounced back with eagle at the par-5 17th and played bogey-free golf for the remainder of his round.
“Made bogey there at the first but then kind of rebounded and built off that,” said the Smash GC captain. “It could have been a lot lower. I played really well.”
DeChambeau’s best LIV Golf result is a tie for fifth earlier this season in Tulsa, a reflection of his upward trend in recent months that also includes a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship won by Koepka.
“Moving in the right direction, and I’ve got a lot of golf years left, a lot of major championships, a lot of LIV events,” DeChambeau said. “It’s only hopefully up and up.”
Graeme McDowell’s hopes of a second career victory at Valderrama came to a halt as the Portrush man followed up his opening level-par with a five-over 76. Starting on the fifth, a double bogey-six on his third hole put the 2010 U.S. Open champion under the gun, and he’d fail to make a single birdie while adding three bogeys to end the day tied for 36th at +5.