Orlando, Fla. –Bryson DeChambeau stayed poised over the weekend, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill by one stroke over Lee Westwood.
DeChambeau has a complete game, but his driving distance puts him on a different level when hitting the ball with consistency.
Bryson needed some good fortune to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, playing the final 17 holes without a bogey, entertaining the crowd with a booming drive over the water and delivering one last par with a 5-foot putt on the final hole for the victory.
Before the tournament, DeChambeau said he wanted to take on the water with everything he had.
“If I play this year, I will definitely do it,” Bryson told Golf.com’s Sean Zak in January. “Number six at Bay Hill is one of those I’ve been eyeing. I think I can do some pretty cool things on it.”
DeChambeau decided to be aggressive and take on the hole.
And he pulled it off.
The sparse crowd cheered DeChambeau on as he launched a shot over the water, overshooting his landing a bit. The shot on the 565-yard sixth hole was 168 yards beyond Westwood. Their second shots were only 6 feet apart and both made birdie.
“I felt like a kid again, for sure. It was exciting,” DeChambeau said after his round on Saturday. “Especially when you pull it off. It was almost like winning a tournament. I got the same chills and feeling when I saw it clearly, and there was no splash. I gave the fans what they wanted.”
DeChambeau closed with a 71, matching the low score of the final round in which no one broke 70 on Sunday at the Invitational for the first time since 1980.
Westwood, who turns 48 next month pushed DeChambeau and pressed him until the last hole. He fell out of the lead with a three-putt bogey from 40 feet on the 14th. Just as critical was failing to make birdie on the par-5 16th with a wedge for his second shot from the fairway, and DeChambeau having to scramble for par.
It was a windy day and only three of the 72 players broke par and the field averaged 75.5 – the highest final-round scoring average since 1980 – DeChambeau kept his composure, made a 38-footer for birdie on the fourth, a 50-footer for par on the 11 and tough 6-footer for par on the 18th in winning his eighth PGA Tour title.
DeChambeau, the reigning U.S. Open champion, was one of the three to break par with his 1-under-par 71 and finished at 11 under to become the first multiple winner of the season.
“It’s amazing to win Mr. Palmer’s tournament – it’s going to make me cry,” DeChambeau said. “He’s had an influence on me for the longest time and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”
DeChambeau slipped on the XL red cardigan the winner receives – “I think this red cardigan is not only for Mr. Palmer, but I would say it’s a little bit for Tiger, as well, knowing what place he’s in right now,” DeChambeau said.
They were never separated by more than one shot over the final 15 holes (Westwood). DeChambeau finished at 11-under 277.
Westwood who has won European Tour titles in four different decades and has 25 in all, was trying to become the first player in PGA Tour history to go 10 years or more between victories two different times.
But Westwood, who became the only player to hold the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour in the the 1990s, 20002, 2010s, and 2020s, couldn’t close out DeChambeau.
Rory McIlroy, who started four shots out of the lead, was never in the mix. He came unglued on the par-5 sixth, where he hit two tee shots into the water and then hit the fairway green and made the putt to salvage double bogey. He shot 76.