Junior golfer Bryson DeChambeau won SMU men’s golf first NCAA Individual Championship on Monday afternoon at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
DeChambeau carded a 1-under 71 on Monday and 8-under overall to win by one stroke over Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, who couldn’t make a birdie on 18 for a chance to force a playoff.
“It gave me the chills on No. 8 when I made birdie because I knew that was likely going to be the number,” Dechambeau said. “I still had to stay in the moment. I had one more hole. I knew I could birdie that hole and push my lead even further, but once I made the putt on No. 9, I stood there for a brief second and said, ‘I did it,’ not knowing that I had won, but knowing I had given it my best.”
Pan missed his bunker shot for birdie and DeChambeau was told on the practice range that he had won.
“Words can’t explain how hard I worked and how much I’ve wanted something like this for the longest time. I lost a lot of my childhood because of it practicing and working countless hours trying to become the best I can be and it’s paid off,” Dechambeau said.
His teammates and coach, Jason Enloe, were there to share in the celebration with DeChambeau.
“They were just congratulating me and they said I deserved it,” the Clovis, Calif. native said. “This isn’t just an individual win, but a team win. They helped me get to where I am now and helped me strive for greatness.”
His parents were back in California, where they watched Dechambeau win the championship, which required some help to not have to win by way of a playoff.
“Fortunately for me and unfortunately for him, he missed the shot and didn’t make birdie on the last hole,” Dechambeau said.
In the past calendar year, DeChambeau has represented the United States twice -- at the Palmer Cup in England and helping lead the USA to a win at the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship in Japan. DeChambeau reached the top 25 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and ended his season with five top-five finishes over his last six tournaments.
Next year, Dechambeau is focused on graduating with his physics degree, but also is excited for what the win could do for his future.
“From there, we’ll see where it goes. Hopefully, I’ll get some tour exemptions and play a few times on tour to get my card that way,” Dechambeau said.
As for defending his title, DeChambeau expects to continue his hard work to try and repeat.
“I’ll go into it with the same attitude I did this year — working hard and doing my best as I can to be the best. That’s what it takes to be the best, nothing less,” Dechambeau said. “Any small change in your attitude or golf swing can screw things up so I’m not going to take things lightly.”
DeChambeau is SMU's first individual NCAA champion in any sport since women's swimmer Flavia Rigamonti won the 1,650-meter freestyle national title in 2005.