OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Bryson DeChambeau Experience has, for quite some time, felt a bit like a spinning roulette wheel. It’s hard to predict what outcome might emerge, because virtually anything seems possible.
His round on Friday at the BMW Championship was more proof of that, as DeChambeau flirted with becoming the 12th player in PGA Tour history to break 60 during a competitive round, instead missing a 6-footer on No. 18 to shoot a 12-under 60.
He made eight birdies and two eagles in his first 17 holes at Caves Valley. The putt on 18 to join that exclusive club, however, missed as he misread the break just a hair.
“I misread the putt, but it was an awesome opportunity,” DeChambeau told Golf Channel after the round. “I had a couple of shots, a couple of opportunities on 17 and 18, and it didn’t happen. But still really proud of the way I handled myself. It’s great to feel pressure again, which is awesome.”
It was another memorable entry in DeChambeau’s already fascinating career.
He has shown he can break a course record at any moment. That he could misuse a physics term. He could hit a drive 400 yards. He could trash his own equipment company. He could cook bacon shirtless on Instagram. He could claim he’s being endangered by fire ants after missing a fairway. He could win a major championship in a blowout, insist he fixed his swing while sleeping or predict he’s going to live to be 130.
Regardless of what you think of him, he’s never boring.
Caves Valley, which had never hosted a PGA Tour event prior to this week, had been softened by several days of rain prior to the tournament, and players were allowed to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway during the first two rounds. But that hardly diminishes what DeChambeau nearly did.
Had that final putt dropped, it would have been the first time in history that a player shot 59 on a course longer than 7,400 yards.
Jim Furyk holds the PGA Tour record for lowest round, shooting a 58 at the Travelers Championship in 2016. He also shot a 59 at Conway Farms north of Chicago in 2013, so he still holds the BMW Championship record.
DeChambeau currently leads the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs by 1 shot at 16-under 128, 1 shot ahead of Patrick Cantlay. World No. 1 Jon Rahm also was 1 back through 15 holes before play was suspended due to darkness. Round 2 will be completed Saturday morning, with players grouped in threesomes going off both sides for the third round.
DeChambeau once again declined to speak with reporters after the round, continuing a boycott that began after he was criticized for revealing he did not plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But both of his playing partners offered effusive praise of his game in his absence.
“When he’s driving it that straight, it’s got to be what it was like in the early 2000s with Tiger just hitting it the furthest and the straightest,” said Jordan Spieth, who was paired with DeChambeau. “Obviously, when you can witness history, it’s pretty cool.”
Said Harris English: “Jordan and I were talking about it yesterday: If he keeps driving it like that, he can shoot whatever he wants.”
DeChambeau hit just seven of 14 fairways, but he hit 16 greens and needed only 25 putts.
It was clear right from the first hole that DeChambeau planned to attack Caves Valley. His opening drive soared 343 yards and just missed reaching the green. He chipped to 10 feet, then rolled in a birdie on his way to a 29 on the front nine.
He stayed hot, birdying three of the first five holes on the back nine.
His most impressive shot of the day almost certainly came on the par-5 16th hole, when he drove it into the right rough, leaving himself 247 yards. From there, he hit a towering 8-iron that landed on the back of the green, then trickled down toward the hole, leaving him a 2-foot eagle putt, which he made.
With two holes to play, he needed just one more birdie to shoot 59, but he couldn’t quite coax a putt to fall on either 17 or 18, despite two excellent approach shots.
“A lot of putts went in. A lot of things went right,” DeChambeau said. “We got a lot of great numbers out of the rough today, and I played my butt off and never thought too much about anything until the last few holes. I striped a 9-iron on 17, striped a drive, striped a wedge on 18 and just wasn’t able to clutch those putts up.”
After he finished his television interview, DeChambeau headed to the putting green at Caves Valley to get in a bit of practice before some bad weather rolled in. He said he still had stuff he wanted to work on.