SILVIS — The John Deere Classic has been a launching point for golf careers.
Bryson DeChambeau became the latest to make a professional name for himself in the Quad-Cities on Sunday afternoon.
The 23-year-old made six birdies in the closing nine holes to chase down Patrick Rodgers and collect his first Tour triumph, a bronze buck trophy and a check for a tournament-record $1,008,000.
“I can’t believe this happened,” said DeChambeau, overcome with emotion afterward. “It feels like it’s been a long time coming, even though I’m 23. It’s pretty special to win here at the John Deere.”
DeChambeau became the 21st player to make the JDC his first PGA Tour title, the third in five years joining Jordan Spieth (2013) and Brian Harman (2014).
Tournament director Clair Peterson awarded DeChambeau a sponsor’s exemption two years ago as an amateur.
The former Southern Methodist University star, just the fifth golfer to win the NCAA championship and United States Amateur in the same season two years ago, fired a 6-under 65 in the final round to finish at 18-under par — one shot in front of Rodgers.
“It means a lot to have Bryson as a winner because we already have a relationship with him,” Peterson said. “It’s a good relationship. We’ve been talking to him for two years now before all the good things happened in his career.
“Someone with his resume, as time goes on and his career progresses, it certainly will help our chances of him coming back here many, many times.”
The victory punctuated somewhat of a comeback for DeChambeau. After missing eight straight cuts, he has been inside the top 30 each of the last four weeks.
This was his breakthrough moment, much like Spieth and Harman.
DeChambeau made a 14-foot birdie putt on the difficult par-4 18th to pull even with Rodgers. However, Rodgers made bogey at the par-5 17th and couldn’t birdie the last.
The other perk of winning was DeChambeau earned a trip to this week’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. He, along with 17 other players, were scheduled to leave on a charter jet from the Quad-City International Airport on Sunday night for Scotland.
“It’s pretty special to play in an Open Championship, the home of golf pretty much,” DeChambeau said. “It’s pretty special to have that first time.”