'Whoops': Bryson DeChambeau forced into costly U-turn after mistakenly jetting home from Wells Fargo

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'Whoops': Bryson DeChambeau forced into costly U-turn after mistakenly jetting home from Wells Fargo - AP
'Whoops': Bryson DeChambeau forced into costly U-turn after mistakenly jetting home from Wells Fargo - AP

Bryson DeChambeau is known as “the Scientist” because of his academic approach to the game and so certain was the former quantum physics student of the accuracy of his sums, that he departed this Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Friday certain he had missed the cut.

Yet when his private jet touched down in his hometown of Dallas, he realised – shock, horror – that his calculations had been wrong. In the three hours he had spent in the air, the wind had created havoc on the Quail Hollow leaderboard.

“So yesterday I made triple bogey on the seventh [his 16th] and even though I chipped in at the eighth, I finished with a 74 on two over and thought there’s no way, I’m in 90th with 65 making it,” DeChambeau said. “But by the time I landed I was in 64th or 63rd and I’m like ‘whoops!’ ”

Surely the aircraft could have performed a hasty about-turn. “I hoped so, but the problem was that the crew had done their hours, so we had to get a new crew and although we tried we couldn’t work it out, so had to leave it until the early hours,” DeChambeau explained.

“I went to bed at 8pm, was up at 1am and I left Dallas at 2.45am, I got here at 6.20am, drove the 30 minutes to the course, put on my clothes in the locker room and headed out. I did get a workout in my gym last night, though.”

Well, of course he did, and the exhaustion was worth it as the 27-year-old shot a 68 to move to one under. However, at one stage it seemed as if DeChambeau would take emphatic advantage of his unexpected Saturday tee-time, but he double-bogeyed the 18th.

DeChambeau is unexpectedly back for two more rounds - AP
DeChambeau is unexpectedly back for two more rounds - AP

“I was very tired and this morning was not easy,” he said. “But, you know, for whatever reason I just feel like the more weird things happen to me, the greater my resolve sometimes can be and today was a case of that. I played a great round of golf. So, I’m very pleased.

“On the last, I was actually up at 10th on the leaderboard I think and I felt that if I could par or birdie that last hole, I could even be leading by the end of the day, potentially, if the wind keeps up. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. Life goes on and you learn from your mistakes. I’ve just got to hit it better. I’m still delighted I returned.

“I did think about withdrawing last night, but I thought I can’t let down Wells Fargo, I can’t let down Quail Hollow. Yeah, it’ll all work out way too expensive, but I have a chance to go make a good cheque tomorrow and that could offset it.”

DeChambeau would not be the first to scrape inside the Quail Hollow cut by a shot and go on to lift the trophy. In 2010, a 20-year-old Rory McIlroy eagled his third-last hole in his second round to qualify for the weekend and from there went 66-62 to secure his first PGA Tour title.

At the very least, DeChambeau, the ever more fascinating world No 5, will have two more competitive rounds under his belt before the reigning US Open champion plays in the US PGA, the season’s second major, in two weeks’ time. “

“This is a tough course and I love it,” DeChambeau said. “I am playing in Dallas [in the Byron Nelson] next week, so I can go home on the Friday night, regardless. I’ll have to think twice in future, though.”

McIlroy favourite to win a third Wells Fargo Championship crown

Rory McIlroy’s odyssey famously began here at Quail Hollow 11 years ago and so the Northern Irishman prays that the North Carolina layout witnesses a triumphant start to a new garlanded chapter in his career.

Certainly, McIlroy is the favourite to prevail and win a third Wells Fargo Championship crown, after a third-round 68 took him to seven-under and into the final group with Keith Mitchell.

The 29-year-old from Chattanooga is no slouch, as evidenced by this best-of-the-day 66 that handed him a two-shot advantage, and will know that McIlroy is without a victory in 19 months.

Mitchell stared down Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler down the stretch at the Honda Classic two years ago and with former US Open champion Gary Woodland also on seven-under, McIlroy is aware of the scale of the challenge to emulate his 20-year-old self when lifting his first US title.

But there was something in his swagger and plenty in his game to inspire confidence that Mcilroy is ready to leave behind his back-to-back missed strokeplay cuts at The Players and The Masters in emphatic style. There was a double-bogey on the 12th - where he pulled his drive - but otherwise this was vintage McIlroy. He holed a 30-footer down the slope on the third and another length effort on the eighth.

“When I make putts like that it helps,” he said. “It was really tough today and the way the holes were cut they were very difficult to read. But my speed was really good. You know, people might look at this and wonder if I was as far off as I said I was at Augusta and everything, But I really did feel like it was far away.

“But I had that week off after the Masters, had a few days in the Bahamas with my wife {Erica] and baby daughter [Poppy] and then came back and worked hard. I worked with Pete {Cowen his new coach] last week and really did find something in my swing, especially with my irons. And what has really helped is my comfortable level here and having the fans back and them spurring me on. I’ve missed that buzz.”

In truth, golf has missed McIlroy in the winner’s enclosure, but regardless, his form here these last few days has rekindled hope that he can launch a challenge for a fifth major at the USPGA in two weeks’ time and on from there at the US Open in June and the Open in July.

On days like this, when he reels off five birdies and gives himself so many chances, it is absurd to think that he is rated down in 15th in the world, his lowliest ranking in more than 11 years. But his self-belief disappeared as gremlins appeared in his fable motion and if Cowen, the great Yorkshire coach, has effected the fix in just other a month then he deserves every plaudit that would come his way.

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