Until golf’s Olympic return, DeChambeau didn’t dare dream it

Jun 22, 2021, 11:55 AM | Updated: Jun 23, 2021, 12:20 am

Bryson DeChambeau grew up watching the Olympics and wishing that someday he would be able to take part.

As a golfer, he knew that was a bit of a stretch.

Although the sport was a part of the Olympic program early in the 20th Century, it was dropped from 1904 until it returned for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“There was never a thought in my mind — before 2016, obviously — that I thought I was going to be in the Olympics,” he said this week after making the field for the Tokyo Games. “I never would have thought that. Playing as good as I have these last few years has afforded me that opportunity.”

DeChambeau, 27, was one year removed from his amateur days in 2016, and didn’t come close to earning one of the four U.S. spots in the Olympic field. Now the sixth-ranked golfer in the world, he is one of four Americans selected for the 60-man field that will play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo from July 30-Aug. 8.

Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele will also represent the U.S.; world No. 2 Dustin Johnson has opted out.

DeChambeau said he remembers loving Olympic table tennis as a child and seeing Michael Phelps dominate the swimming in Athens and Beijing. Most of all, he hoped to someday be able to march into an Olympic stadium in the opening ceremony.

“When I missed it in Rio in 2016, I was like ‘Man, that’s a goal of mine that I want to check off the list.´ I want to be an Olympian for the American team,” he said. “And I’m very fortunate to say that I’m an Olympian now.”

DeChambeau said Rickie Fowler, who played in Rio, said it was “the coolest experience ever.”

Not that he needed any convincing.

“As of right now, I am definitely going,” he said, acknowledging that the games have already been postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Japan remains in a partial lockdown. “If something was crazy to happen, obviously, we all wouldn’t be going.”

The 2020 U.S. Open champion, DeChambeau was leading this year’s tournament with nine holes to play before imploding on the back nine at Torrey Pines. He made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12, then took a triple on the 13th hole and a quadruple bogey on the 17th.

He finished the final round with a 6-over 77, nine strokes behind winner John Rahm.

This week brings him to TPC River Highlands outside of Hartford, Connecticut, for the Travelers Championship. Five of the world’s top 10 players are in the field, including Johnson, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

DeChambeau has played in the tournament five times, never missing the cut and finishing in the top 10 the last three years.

“It fits my game pretty well. Hopefully I can fix the driver a little bit more — still struggling with that. The miss-hits are a little too wild. And that’s what I’m looking to change for this week,” he said. “If I can do that, I think I have a good chance to contend.”

DeChambeau also said he was eager to get back in front of fans after playing last year’s tournament on an empty course. If that brings out the hecklers trying to stoke his feud with Koepka, that’s fine, too.

“It’s something that just rolls right off my back,” he said. “People think it bothers me. It doesn’t. At all. It’s, like, just an afterthought to me. I hear it and it doesn’t even register in my head anymore. So people can keep saying it if they want. I’ve got no issue with it. It’s funny, if anything.”

And good for golf?

“There’s some good aspects to it,” he said. “Now when you start saying it during somebody’s golf swing, it’s different. But, you know, walking down the fairway, whatever? No harm, no foul.”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

UK police chiefs apologize to Hillsborough disaster families

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s police chiefs promised a “cultural change” on Tuesday as they apologized to families of the victims in the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, the U.K.’s worst sports disaster which saw 97 people killed during a crush of soccer fans at an overcrowded stadium. “For what happened, as a senior policing leader, I profoundly […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce celebrates after the NFL AFC Championship playoff footbal...
Associated Press

Brother vs brother: Kelces prepare for Super Bowl showdown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Donna Kelce is going to have to pull out that now-familiar custom jersey — the one with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s front stitched to Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce’s back — one more time this season. At least this time, she’ll get to see her boys in […]
1 day ago
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) walks back to the sidelines during the second half of...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL wasn’t at its best in conference championships

The NFL didn’t put on its Sunday best for the conference championships. Before the San Francisco 49ers ran out of luck and quarterbacks, they were burned by a fourth-down catch by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devonta Smith that wasn’t even a catch. Although Kyle Shanahan could have thrown a challenge flag, the league’s replay assist […]
1 day ago
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, drives to the basket on Atlanta Hawks center Cli...
Associated Press

Lillard scores 42 as Trail Blazers hold off Hawks 129-125

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 42 points, Anfernee Simons hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 34 seconds left and the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Atlanta Hawks 129-125 on Monday night. Dejounte Murray had 40 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Hawks, who played without star point guard Trae Young (ankle). […]
1 day ago
Baylor guard Keyonte George (1) looks for the basket past Texas guard Arterio Morris (2) during the...
Associated Press

Rice, Allen lead No. 10 Texas over No. 11 Baylor 76-71

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sir’Jabari Rice scored 21 points and Timmy Allen added 18 to send No. 10 Texas to a 76-71 win over No. 11 Baylor on Monday night, ending the Bears’ six-game win streak and keeping the Longhorns in a share of first place in the Big 12. Rice made four 3-pointers in […]
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson, right, drives against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, le...
Associated Press

Bridges scores 29, Suns pull away late, beat Raptors 114-106

PHOENIX (AP) — Deandre Ayton had to do a double-take in the final minutes as his Phoenix Suns pulled away for another win. His eyes weren’t playing tricks. That was Mikal Bridges getting big mid-range buckets during crucial possessions in the fourth quarter, not injured All-Star guard Devin Booker. Bridges had one of his best […]
1 day ago
Until golf’s Olympic return, DeChambeau didn’t dare dream it