How and why Bryson DeChambeau overpowered the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

The American emerged victorious at Bay Hill after an enthralling final round duel with England’s Lee Westwood.

For a second year running the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational provided a brutal examination of the field.

But, unlike in 2020, the English challenger, this time Lee Westwood, came up short and Bryson DeChambeau claimed the first American win at the tournament since 2015.

It was the 27-year-old's eighth PGA Tour victory and a triumphant end to a week when his long-driving was again the focus of the golfing world's attention.

But it was also a performance that showcased far more than his aggression from the tee.

He impressed with his approach play, on the greens, and also with his resilience.

Let's take a closer look at his first win of the 2020-21 season.

Final round hunter

As noted in the final round preview, DeChambeau has become deadly when heading into Sunday lying second on the leaderboard.

The first two times he found himself in that position, in early 2018, he played nicely enough, breaking par both times, but went backwards in the field.

Since then, he's found comfort in the situation, almost as if he smells blood, and so it proved again when just one blow back of Westwood at the start of Sunday.

True, he made an error from the first tee which resulted in a bogey, but he rebounded with two front nine birdies and then ground out nine pars after the turn to first claim the lead and then maintain it.

He's now 4-for-6 at converting from second on the leaderboard with 18 holes to play and those last four instances have been assured and predatory.

Hanging tough

The field's scoring average in round four was 75.50, the highest at the tournament since Sunday in 1980.

It was an afternoon to dig deep and DeChambeau revealed after his round that a message of support from Tiger Woods reinforced that truth.

"He texted me this morning out of the blue," he said. "When I got it, I'm like, wow, that's pretty amazing that he is thinking of me when he's in his tough times.

"One of the things that we talked about was, it's not about how many times you get kicked to the curb or knocked down. It's about how many times you can get back up and keep moving forward."

It was ideal mental preparation for the test ahead.

Familiar conditions

Back in September, DeChambeau attacked a long golf course with firm greens and thick rough, emerging victorious in the US Open at Winged Foot.

Little wonder there was a grin on his face at the prospect of Bay Hill playing in much the same way on Sunday.

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"Definitely," he said afterwards. "Three people were under-par all day? Yeah, it was difficult.

"I took a lot of pride in knowing that in difficult conditions I can persevere and win.

"I took a lot from the US Open and it played into this week - knowing weird things happen, focussing on hitting fairways and greens, having good speed control on the greens."

Putting

If you had a garden gate that swung like DeChambeau's putting stroke you'd have it re-hung, but like all of this game there's a reason behind it - and it got the job done in sensational style in the final round.

"It's a very underrated aspect of my game," he said, bashfully adding: "Making that putt on 11 (a par save from 49-feet), massive.

"Making the par putt on two, massive.

"Making the par putt on three, huge.

"The 40-footer at the fourth, huge.

"Just very, very important and instrumental in winning a golf tournament."

The numbers

Bay Hill's four par-3s have become the means by which the course sorts the wheat from the chaff.

Prior to this year's tournament the last seven winners had ranked top six on the short holes and DeChambeau maintained the trend by leading the field.

He played them in 4-under the card and only one other man fared better than 1-under (Kristoffer Ventura was 3-under, boosted by a final round hole-in-one).

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The stats also reveal the strength of his long game.

He ranked first for Strokes Gained Off the Tee (7.042), ninth for Approach (4.236), second for Tee to Green (12.446) and third for Greens in Regulation (69.44%).

The future

Given his clear affinity for a brutal challenge it seems obvious to look at him mounting a strong defence of the US Open.

The problem with that, however, is two-fold.

Firstly, DeChambeau has not taken to Torrey Pines, this year's host course.

He shot 78-74 to miss the cut in 2018, 70-76 to get the weekend off a year later, and hasn't returned since.

There is also the weight of history: only three men have won the championship back-to-back since the Second World War (Ben Hogan 1950-51, Curtis Strange 1988-89 and Brooks Koepka 2017-18).

He's priced 12/1 with Paddy Power to join that elite trio.

He's also 11/1 with the same firm to vastly improve on his clumsy showing at Augusta National last year and win a first Masters.

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