BROOKLINE, Mass. – Bryson DeChambeau called his move to the LIV Golf Series a “business decision,” and a tough one to boot.
The 2020 US Open champion, who just 10 days ago said he was sticking with the PGA Tour, made his first comments about his change of heart on Monday after a practice session at the County Club.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business decision for my family’s future,” he said. “And it gave me a lot more free time.”
The 28-year-old hitter, who has been hampered by a hand injury for most of this year, says the money he will get for playing the series will also help build his charitable foundation. DeChambeau is single and has no children.
Much like Phil Mickelson had done at a press conference earlier today, DeChambeau didn’t want to delve into the politics of where the money is coming from – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – or how the PGA Tour will react to his decision. Like Mickelson, DeChambeau did not return his tour card.
“It’s not my decision to make,” he said of his future on the PGA Tour, where he has $26.3 million in career earnings and eight of his 10 world victories.
DeChambeau is set to make his Series LIV debut next month in Portland, Oregon. He said the decision to go on the Saudi-backed tour was not one he took lightly.
“Very difficult,” he said. “It’s weighed on everyone here for two years.”
Having grown up 15 minutes from the Country Club, Michael Thorbjornsen knows a lot about the course and its history.
A resident of nearby Wellesley, Thorbjornsen has seen ‘The Greatest Match Ever Played’ eight times but only played once on the course where the film about Francis Ouimet’s victory was set. US Open in 1913.
“I mean, Tom Brady tried to get a membership here. I think it took him a long time,” Thorbjornsen said Monday after a practice round for the US Open. “It’s really cool to be on the property.”
The Country Club is hosting the US Open for the fourth time. After Ouimet, an amateur who lived across the street and was a caddy at the club, beat English professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 playoffs, Julius Boros won in 1963 and Curtis Strange won in 1988.
In the 1999 Ryder Cup, the Americans overcame a 10-6 final day deficit for a victory dubbed “The Battle of Brookline”.
Thorbjornsen wasn’t born for it yet, and he was just 13 when the USGA announced the course would host the 2022 US Open.
“At that time, I set myself the goal of qualifying for this event,” said Thorbjornsen, who played a practice round Monday with a friend from high school, with his family following him on the course. ” It was great. It looks like a home event.
BACK IN TOWN
Matt Fitzpatrick didn’t just leave his first visit to the Country Club with a beautiful, shiny trophy. He also made lifelong friends.
The 2013 American amateur champion remains in the same family that took him in when he won the Brookline tournament. The Englishman spent his first-ever Thanksgiving with the Fulton family later that year, while at Northwestern University, and also visited them in 2016.
“We came for a week and played the course and stuff,” Fitzpatrick said. “Stay with them this week, which is going to be a lot of fun.”
The US Amateur victory earned Fitzpatrick a place at the British Open and the Masters and US Open the following year, as well as invitations to a handful of PGA Tour events. He won his first professional victory at the British Masters in 2015 and won six other tournaments in Europe and Asia.
“All of a sudden it opens all these doors. I never realized how important it was here until I won,” he said on Monday. “So I have all these events that I’ve been invited to, and just opportunities to gain experience playing professional golf. … Because winning here kind of gave me that experience.
Fitzpatrick finished tied for seventh at the Masters in 2016 and twice finished tied for 12th at the US Open. He is coming off his all-time best performance at a major tournament, a tie for fifth in the PGA Championship after shooting 73 times on Sunday.
“It was disappointing at first when you walk off the golf course and kind of realize you had a chance to win and you didn’t take it,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing well. I feel like I made so many mistakes last week, just simple bogeys that you erase and all of a sudden you take a lot of shots.
Fitzpatrick was 18 and heading to college when he first arrived at Brookline in 2013, and he said it was a pleasure to have his family with him, with his brother on the bag.
But not all memories of the region are good.
“I don’t really like Thanksgiving food. It’s not for me,” he said, calling green beans “the worst thing ever invented.”
When asked if he had ever tasted New England clam chowder on one of his visits, he replied, “Never tried, but probably terrible.”
Shane Lowry will have the best seat at Brookline to hear how fans react to Phil Mickelson and other players who joined a rival Saudi-funded league. He is in the same group as Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen, who both played in the LIV Golf Invitational last week.
It was a tricky act for the USGA, which often plays around with tee times.
Sergio Garcia and Kevin Na are also in the rival league, and both have heard their share of heckling even without having to mention Saudi Arabia. They are paired up and joined by Tyrrell Hatton.
A traditional group is the defending champion (Jon Rahm), the British Open champion (Collin Morikawa) and the American amateur champion (James Piot), even though Piot is now a pro. He was also on the LIV Golf circuit last week.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson and AP Sports Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.
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