Electric Eagle Gives Bryson DeChambeau a Shot at the PGA Championship

The 2020 U.S. Open champion and LIV Golf member is in a tie for fourth, two shots back heading to the final round at Valhalla.
Bryson DeChambeau delivered a fist-pumping eagle at the 18th hole Saturday.
Bryson DeChambeau delivered a fist-pumping eagle at the 18th hole Saturday. / Matt Stone/Courier Journal / USA TODAY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bryson DeChambeau would have preferred to have putted from off the 18th green early Saturday evening, such was the smooth turf between him and the hole.

Save one for one problem: a sprinkler head.

It was right in his line, so DeChambeau had no choice but to pull out his 56-degree wedge and chip. No problem: he knocked the ball over impediment in his line, landed it softly on the green and watched it roll like a putt into the hole for an eagle.

The crowd roared and DeChambeau fist pumped, a big boost for the 2020 U.S. Open champion, who has been frustrated that his scoring was not better and that he’s actually not closer to the lead ... even though he’s still pretty close through three rounds of the PGA Championship.

“Exhilarating,” said DeChambeau of the eagle which leaves him with an opportunity to win his second major title. “I haven't felt like that in a long time. The only other time I felt like it was when I shot 58 at Greenbrier. That was pretty exciting there. I was pretty pumped.”

No doubt. DeChambeau was referring to the final-round 58 he shot last year to win the LIV Golf Greenbrier event, one of his two victories in 2023 on the controversial circuit.

The eagle meant a score of 4-under-par 67 at Valhalla Golf Club and left him two shots behind 54-hole co-leaders Colin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, who lead by a stroke over Sahith Theegala.

DeChambeau is in a three-way tie for fourth along with Shane Lowry—who shot a major-championship-tying record 62—and Viktor Hovland, who finished second to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship last year.

Koepka was the first reigning LIV player to win a major title and DeChambeau could join him as the second. (Jon Rahm won last year’s Masters before joining LIV, as did Cam Smith at the British Open before joining LIV in 2022.)

Koepka fell out of contention on Saturday with a 74, dropping into a tie for 47th.

South African Dean Burmester, who received an invite from the PGA, shot 68 and is four shots back and in ninth place. Smith is the next closest LIV player and fell back with a 70 that left him in a tie for 38th.

DeChambeau has had a resurgence of sorts after finally getting healthy last year following a year of injuries and turmoil associated with his move to LIV Golf in 2022. Last year, he tied for fourth at the PGA.

He was also the first-round leader this year at the Masters, where he shot 65 and eventually tied for sixth.

“It’s been a long time coming for me, it would mean a lot,” he said. “I really thought after 2020 I was going to go on a tear, and then injuries happened and life happened. It’s a bit frustrating, but you know what I’m glad to be here, honored to be here, blessed to be here and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

DeChambeau is in the tournament based on the five-year exemption for winning the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where he was the only player to finish under par and won by six shots.

It seemed easy then, as DeChambeau beefed up to become one of the longest hitters in the game.

But after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2021, enduring what seems now to be a trivial feud with future LIV golfer Koepka and contending a few more times the rest of that year—while missing the Olympics due to COVID-19—DeChambeau fell into difficulty early in 2022.

He suffered hip and wrist injuries and was never right the rest of the year, playing poorly after his move to LIV Golf.

Last year he finally got a couple of victories—winning the Greenbrier event with his final-round 58 and again in Chicago—and captaining his Crushers team to the team title.

This year, DeChambeau has four top-10 finishes on LIV Golf without a victory, all coming prior to the Masters. Since then, he was 26th in Adelaide and 27th in Singapore.

“I've got a good chance,” he said. “I'm not executing to the level that I know I can, but playing well enough to give myself a chance, obviously.

“Got to keep strategizing around this golf course and putting the golf ball in the right areas and miss it in the right place and hit a bunch of greens out here. It's iron play. The key is iron play this week and haven't done my best but got up-and-down nicely. I made a couple of clutch shots when I needed to.”

DeChambeau is leading the field in driving distance, is ninth in strokes-gained off the tee as well as tee to green but just 44th in strokes-gained approach. He bemoaned his iron play after the round and feels that needs to be sharper to have a strong chance Sunday.

“It’s been user error today and the last few days,” said DeChambeau, who, who hit just 12 greens on Saturday but has still found 40 of 54 for the week.

He will be in the third-to-last group with Hovland.


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.