Bryson DeChambeau sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole and then had to wait to find out that it would hold up for his first PGA Tour victory, by one stroke over Patrick Rodgers in the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
DeChambeau, the 23-year-old from Clovis in California’s Central Valley, birdied seven of the last 11 holes to shoot 6-under-par 65 and win in his 40th start on the circuit.
“I was more nervous waiting to see if I was going to be in a playoff for the NCAA Championship,” said DeChambeau, who won that tournament and the U.S. Amateur in 2015 while at SMU. “Oh my God, are you kidding me?
“I don’t even know what to say. I’ve been working so hard for so long and for this to happen at the John Deere, which gave me my first sponsor’s exemption, is just incredible. What a great experience.”
DeChambeau, who also shot 65 in the second round, finished with a total of 18-under 266 and recorded his second pro victory, as he also won the 2016 DAP Championship on the Web.com Tour.
By winning, he earned a spot in the 146th Open Championship next week at Royal Birkdale.
Rodgers, the former Stanford All-American who also was seeking his first PGA Tour victory, led after each of the last two rounds, and still held a share of the top spot after DeChambeau’s closing birdie.
However, Rodgers made a mess of the 17th hole en route to a bogey and a closing 70.
“Our tendency when you have the lead is to kind of hold on and play safe and guard against making mistakes,” said Rodgers, who won the 2016 Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship on the Web.com Tour for his only pro victory.
“But I had guys coming at me with some really low rounds. Obviously Bryson shot a great one.”
Wesley Bryan, who earned his first PGA Tour victory earlier this year in the RBC Heritage, posted a 64 and was two shots back in a tie for third with Rick Lamb, who followed his third-round 63 with a 66.
Local favorite Steve Stricker, a three-time John Deere winner, carded a 64 and was another stroke back in a tie for fifth with 2012 winner Zach Johnson (67), 2007 champion Jonathan Byrd (67), Daniel Berger (70) and Scott Stallings (70).
Brian Harman, the 2014 John Deere winner, recorded a 67 and was four behind in a tie for 10th with J.J. Henry, who came in at 69.