'We're here to stay': Team USA, Bryson DeChambeau's Ryder Cup victory lap starts in Detroit
Detroit — It's been a wild year for Bryson DeChambeau, and not all of it's been great for his image — for a guy who cares very much about branding.
For starters, after a 2020 in which he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic and then the U.S. Open, he hasn't won a PGA Tour tournament since March — though he did lose on the sixth hole of a playoff in late August. Then there's been the well-publicized and never-ending (or maybe it has finally ended?) feud with Brooks Koepka, the subsequent, nonstop heckling from golf galleries who've largely sided with the much-more-laid-back Koepka, a breakup with his longtime caddie during RMC week, a public spat with his equipment company after a horrendous driving day at the British Open, and a follow-up boycott of the local and national media. He missed the Olympics because of COVID-19.
On Monday morning at Detroit Golf Club, to announce an extension of the Rocket Mortgage Classic through 2027, DeChambeau looked as at ease as he has in months. Or maybe he was just hungover. Hey, no judgment here.
"I'm not 100%, I'll tell you that," DeChambeau said with a laugh, standing on the back patio at Detroit Golf Club, not even 24 hours after he helped lead the United States team to a history victory over Europe in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. "It's been a lot of fun. Yesterday, we were trying to make a statement and show that we're here to stay.
"We wanted to showcase to the world that this is a new generation for United States golf."
After nearly three decades of mostly European thumpings in the every-other-year Ryder Cup, the pinnacle of misery coming at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills when Hal Sutton decided to play enemies Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together and Europe romped, 18.5-9.5, the United States roared back last week.
The Americans won all five sessions on the shores of Lake Michigan, and won 19-9, a record margin since continental Europe was admitted into golf's greatest exhibition in the 1970s.
It was the youngest United States team ever, and the potential for staying power was on display all three days, including with DeChambeau, won won 2.5 points over his three matches. DeChambeau, in his singles match Sunday, drove the par-4 first green, made eagle and was off and running — and basking in some raucous cheers, which he hasn't experienced as much this year — eventually beating Sergio Garcia, one of the best Ryder Cup players ever, 3 and 2. (Earlier in the week, he hit a 417-yard drive, leaving him 72 yards into a par 5, which he also eagled.)
After the Cup was clinched Sunday evening, U.S. captain Steve Stricker called the 2021 Americans the "greatest" Ryder Cup team ever.
"Rewarding," DeChambeau, 28, said of hearing Stricker use that term for a Team USA so rich in history, with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and the like. "I think it was due to what he was able to provide us. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing, and that's what he did pretty much all week. There was never like a hurrah speech, it was always like, 'OK, good job, you guys got the job done today, let's do it again tomorrow.' Saying very few words, it allowed us to focus on the job at hand. There was like no big speeches or famous people coming in. We know how big the tournament is and was.
"We just needed to get the job done, and we did. It was pretty cool to hear that we were the best team ever."
Team USA was led by Dustin Johnson (5-0), Collin Morikawa (3-0-1), Patrick Cantlay (3-0-1) and Xander Schauffele (3-1-0). Eight Americans had winning records. All Americans won at least one match.
The belief is, the Americans, with all their young talent, are coming into their own, just as the Europeans' graybeards — who led the way to nine wins in the previous 12 Ryder Cups — are about to exit stage left.
Speaking of exits, DeChambeau left Wisconsin around 6:30 a.m. Monday to get to Detroit, where he had some breakfast, participated in the extension announcement and held a brief clinic for the Rocket Mortgage Classic's annual Fall Classic. He spoke to Detroit reporters for the first time since missing the cut in July. He then was set to fly to Nevada later Monday, for the start of a Long Drive Contest. (Don't cry for him, though; it's not like he flew coach, or even commercial.)
It was quite the ride, but he didn't skimp on the fun Sunday night. He was popping champagne — he got the cork off quicker than at his 2020 RMC post-party, when his hands were so callous from four days of overpowering the classic Donald Ross layout — and partying well into the evening with teammates, including, yes, Koepka. The odd couple shared a brief hug after the Cup was clinched Sunday (both won their singles matches), after Stricker had shared with the world that the two actually wanted to play together in the Ryder Cup. And later on, DeChambeau was seen rocking a custom-made "Stepbrothers" T-shirt, his and Koepka's faces PhotoShopped over the stars of the movie, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. DeChambeau figures he stayed up until around 1 or 1:30 a.m. celebrating with teammates, many of whom probably lasted much longer than he did — but they didn't have branding obligations for Monday morning.
DeChambeau and fellow Rocket Mortgage pitchpeople Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson were among those in attendance Monday, along with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. They all spoke about Detroit and the tournament's impact, but DeChambeau added an off-topic closing line.
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