Bryson DeChambeau eyes back-to-back PGA TOUR wins and he’s done it before

The monster-hitting American has history in his favour as he looks to follow up last week’s Bay Hill triumph with victory in THE PLAYERS Championship on Sunday

Bryson DeChambeau came from behind to edge out Lee Westwood and score a thrilling win in Florida on Sunday.

No, this isn't the work of a crystal ball; it's the headline used last week when the American beat the Englishman in an epic final-round duel at Bay Hill.

DeChambeau will hope for a repeat performance at TPC Sawgrass after the PGA TOUR's hottest two players set up a Sunday showdown for the second week running.

Given all the superstars on show, it's a remarkable feat that Westwood and DeChambeau should occupy the top two slots again and be paired together in the final two-ball.

When it was confirmed, the statisticians were scrambling for the last time that had happened and nothing flashed up. The best they could come up with was Adam Scott and Vijay Singh contesting the season-ending 2006 TOUR Championship and the season-opening 2007 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Technically back-to-back tournaments but months apart and nothing like the same storyline we have at Sawgrass this Sunday.

Westwood was one clear after 54 holes last week and the lead wasn't big enough. DeChambeau shot 71 to Westy's 73 and pipped him by a shot.

This time, Westwood has a two-shot lead over DeChambeau. And, with that extra stroke, the bookies are expecting a different outcome.

Paddy Power go 9/4 Westwood (-13), 11/4 DeChambeau (-11). It's not a two-horse race of course and 9/2 Justin Thomas (-10), 8/1 Jon Rahm (-9), 14/1 Paul Casey (-9) and 18/1 Doug Ghim (-10) are all hovering.

As the Justin Ray stat below shows, a two-shot lead counts for plenty at this level.

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But Westwood doesn't have a good reputation as a closer. He's converted just one of his six third-round leads/co-leads on the PGA Tour and that was 23 years ago.

By contrast, when DeChambeau has a sniff of victory, he's a dangerous animal. And, notably, winning a big event the previous week doesn't sate him.

In 2018, 'The Scientist' powered to a four-shot win in the opening FedExCup Series Play-off event, the Northern Trust. It was his third victory on the PGA TOUR.

At the following week's Dell Technologies Championship, he teed it up against the TOUR's best once more. He started day four a shot back from Abraham Ancer but a final-round 67 was enough to get it done.

DeChambeau had won back-to-back - a rare feat on the PGA TOUR. So, having done it once, he'll carry an extra dose of confidence for a repeat performance. That's bad news for Westwood and the other contenders.

The other ominous sign for his rivals is that DeChambeau is a good chaser.

In each of his last three wins, he started the final round in arrears. He was one back from Westwood last week, two off Matthew Wolff's lead at the 2020 US Open and three behind after 54 holes before shooting 65 to win July's Rocket Mortgage Classic.

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As he attempts to go back-to-back for the second time in his short career, here's what DeChambeau had to say to the press:

On trying to get the win

"This is a chance that I've wanted my entire life. Growing up watching THE PLAYERS, and finally having this opportunity is going to be something special."

On getting strange bounces

"There's really steep slopes in and around the greens. There's a lot of weird stuff that goes on around this golf course. For example, 17 was a very firm green and I got a huge bounce to the back of the green and I wasn't expecting that at all. It's one of those things that we've just got to be prepared for the unexplainable, and if you can do that, like I was able to on 15 today, got in a really weird situation, really weird lie and I managed to get up-and-down from there."

On Rory McIlroy's comments that he was chasing extra distance to try and 'be like Bryson'.

"You know, I appreciate it, first off. The second comment I would have is that I wasn't trying to influence anybody. I was just trying to play my own game and hit it as far as I possibly could. And I knew there was going to be an affect. I didn't know what it would be or who would be affected by it, but again, golf is a weird game. This journey that I'm on is not taken lightly. I've tried to figure out a bunch of different variables that you have to in order to hit it straight, hitting it really far. I knew that there would be some people that would try and some people it would potentially not work for them and some people it may help them. So I really don't know that, but I do appreciate Rory's comments, it's kind of a sentiment almost and something that keeps me going every day."

On what stood out when playing with Lee Westwood in the final round at Bay Hill last week

"I think Helen (his caddie and girlfriend). I think Helen is a big part of it. She's keeping him steady and level headed and she's a rock. Keeps his mind focused on the right things, and she's been awesome for him, and that's one of his secret weapons, I think."

On which part of Westwood's game impresses him

"Mr. Consistency. I mean, his driving is impeccable, his iron play is impeccable and he makes putts when he needs to. Fortunately for me last week I was able to get the job done, and I think tomorrow is going to be an incredible battle."

On which part of his own game has impressed him most

"Managing where I've missed it for the most part. I think there's been a couple holes where I haven't missed in the right place, but on average I've missed it in the correct places, and when I haven't I've, for the most part, been able to get up-and-down. That's what you need to do to win golf tournaments. Putting has always been pretty good and my driving was a little bit better today, I hope I can keep moving forward with that and working on it in the right way and giving myself a better feel for tomorrow."

On the importance of holing a 14-foot par putt on 18

"Yeah, definitely a lot of positivity coming out of that. You feel pretty good the way I finished. Gutting it out, grinding it out and giving myself a great chance for tomorrow."

On a potential budding rivalry building with Westwood

"I guess so. He's making a lot of amazing putts, too. That's what it takes to win golf tournaments. I can hit the long ball, that's great, but again, on 18 I didn't hit the fairway and that's something I'm trying to do all week. I've been trying do it all week. No matter what, I just wanted to hit the fairway, even if I had 8, 7-iron in. From a putting contest standpoint tomorrow, it's going to be who can hit the most greens and who can make the most putts. That's always the way it is."

On whether he's had back-to-back weeks playing with the same rival in the final group

"Well, in junior golf. That's about it. But it was the same couple guys."

On whether he found anything on the range the day before

"Yeah, I did. It played out for me pretty well today. Still hit a couple not-so-great shots. For the most part I was able to keep it in play and hit some great drives off the tee. No. 14, that's a hole I want to hit the fairway on. If I hit the fairway on that hole, it's off to the races for me. But I'm getting really close to doing that."

On what he found on the range

"It's just about keeping my right arm closer to my chest, not letting it get so far away from me. I just feel like when I'm trying to hit it really hard, sometimes it does that, and got to make sure the club stays more in front of me."

READ MORE: Sawgrass stage all set for high drama: final round preview of THE PLAYERS Championship

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