Sports

Bryson DeChambeau brings 'mad science' to Zach Johnson Foundation Classic

PGA star headlines 2019 ZJFC in Cedar Rapids

Bryson DeChambeau, teeing off at the second hole during the final round of the 3M Championship golf tournament at TPC Twin Cities, will be in Cedar Rapids today. (USA Today Sports)
Bryson DeChambeau, teeing off at the second hole during the final round of the 3M Championship golf tournament at TPC Twin Cities, will be in Cedar Rapids today. (USA Today Sports)

Zach Johnson almost had a winner.

Johnson, of course, does have a winner with his Zach Johnson Foundation Classic, which celebrates its ninth running Monday at Elmcrest Country Club.

The event has raised millions for Johnson’s Kids on Course program.

But Johnson’s classic almost had the winner at Sunday’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minn.

Bryson DeChambeau, 25, took a one-shot lead late in Sunday’s final round, but could only watch as Matthew Wolff eagled No. 18 to snatch the victory by one stroke.

DeChambeau is, by far, the top golfer in today’s field. He ranks eighth in the world — and has been as high as No. 5 — and owns five wins since joining the Tour in 2015.

He appears to be an interesting person, too.

He was a physics major at Southern Methodist and has been called the “Mad Scientist” on Tour. He wears a Ben Hogan-style hat, something he picked up at the age of 13. He’s right-handed, but signs his autograph with his left hand — and backward. It’s something he said he wanted to do, so he worked at it until he mastered it.

“If I wanted to learn Arabic or Russian, I could,” he told Jamie Diaz of Golfworld in 2016. “Or tie my shoes in a new way, I could. Why? Dedication. I’m not really smart, but I’m dedicated.

“I can be good at anything if I love it and dedicate myself. And I love history. I love science. I love music. I love golf. I love learning. I love life. I love trying to be the best at anything and everything.”

That love of golf is evident in how good he is at the game.

He’s only the fifth player to capture the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year. In addition to those five Tour wins, he has four runner-up finishes and 17 top 10s. He’s earned $13.4 million.

A year ago, after winning the Memorial Tournament, Forbes ran a story titled “The Most Interesting Player on the PGA Tour Isn’t Tiger Woods; It’s Bryson DeChambeau” because he uses a single-length shaft for all his irons.

“While it may seem like a minor thing, playing with one-length irons is the golfing equivalent of pitching an MLB game underhanded or shooting 3-pointers with hook shots,” Brian Goff wrote in the article. “It just isn’t done, at least among professionals or top amateurs.”

Interesting, for sure. But he’s not the only one.

The thing about the ZJFC is all of these golfers — there are 16 PGA Tour players in Monday's field — have interesting stories.

Colt Knost isn’t among the best golfers on the PGA Tour or at this year's event. He ranks 1,234th in the world.

But he’s got some interesting “facts” in his bio.

The 34-year-old from Garrettsville, Ohio, turned pro in 2007 and joined the PGA Tour in 2009. He has no Tour wins, but has finished third four times and has nine top 10s. He’s only made the cut three times this year, but ...

He won three United States Golf Association events in 2007. Bobby Jones, in 1930, was the first to do that. Jay Sigel, in 1983, is the only other one.

 Won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship that same year.

 Once was ranked the No. 1 amateur in the world.

You can’t judge a book by its cover or a golfer by his or her world ranking. You never know what you’ll find if you just take the time to look.

A good place to start is the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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