Up. Down. Up. Down.
Bryson DeChambeau spent his day descending and ascending the leaderboard at the U.S. Open, but thankfully, there was one more up than down Friday at Winged Foot.
The six-time PGA Tour winner battled bogeys throughout his second round, but was fortunate enough to match each bogey with its own birdie and ended his round on a high-note, carding an eagle on the par-5 ninth.
The 27-year-old finished Friday 2-under 68 to sit 3 under for the tournament, one of a handful of fortunate players to sit in the red through 36 holes.
“Yeah, it’s definitely ebbs and flows, but I’ve been working hard on that recently and trying to keep myself level-headed no matter what, and I feel like I did a great job of that today,” DeChambeau said. “Even on 5, made a dumb bogey, just didn’t play the right distance and consequently hurt myself there. And then on 6, I just focused up and I was able to stay patient and execute a great drive and make two great putts there.”
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Starting on No. 10, DeChambeau began his round bogey-birdie-bogey. He made par on 13 and then continued the rollercoaster for birdie-bogey-birdie on Nos. 14-16.
After reaching the turn at even par, DeChambeau bogeyed No. 3, but corrected it immediately with a birdie on No. 2. He went bogey-birdie again on Nos. 5 and 6, followed by his eagle on No. 9.
“(Bouncing back) keeps your momentum going, I’ll tell you that,” he said when asked about matching each of his five bogeys with birdies. “I don’t really have too much more to say on that other than the fact that you need momentum to keep playing well in a U.S. Open, and that’s what I was able to do today.”
Coming off a first-round 69, DeChambeau walked off the course T-3, two shots behind first-round leader Justin Thomas.
The U.S. Open is DeChambeau’s first event of the 2020-21 season. After finishing T-4 at the PGA Championship, he stumbled during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Ahead of the playoffs, he had nine top-10s in 15 events and just a pair of missed cuts. The reigning Rocket Mortgage Classic winner missed the cut at the Northern Trust, finished in 50th at the BMW Championship at 10 over and 22nd at the Tour Championship at 3 under.
At Winged Foot, of all places, DeChambeau has put his lackluster performance in the playoffs behind him. That’s largely due to his mental edge.
“I feel great,” DeChambeau said Friday. “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.”
Part of the reason DeChambeau was able to battle the bogeys Winged Foot threw at him Friday was that he’s working on being more patient with himself. A large part of that is a lot of “deep, long breaths” to re-center himself during rounds, but the other element is focusing on what doesn’t feel right and correcting it immediately like his wedges in the opening round.
DeChambeau said he spent Thursday evening after his first round making the adjustment to his wedges to avoid transferring the discomfort he experienced with them in the opening round to Round 2.
Thanks to Thursday evening’s adjustment, he didn’t.
“We didn’t practice (wedge shots) as well as I should have leading up to this tournament, but we made that adjustment and it worked out beautifully for me today. … I was flying everything 10 yards long consequently with my wedges and we recalibrated all of them today, and I felt like they worked out really well today,” he said.
DeChambeau, who last won on Tour in July, is looking for his second win of 2020 and first major championship.
If he keeps battling Winged Foot like he did Friday, he has a pretty good shot.