DUBLIN, Ohio — The driving range at Golf Club of Dublin was packed at 9 p.m. Friday evening, buzzing with talk of the tournament in town. Locals inspired by the sport’s biggest stars sent balls into the fading light, mimicking Woods, and Fowler, and McIlroy.
Down the road at Muirfield Village Country Club, just one man remained on the range, taking advantage of the late sunset that comes with being in Western Ohio in June.
Bryson DeChambeau’s perfectionism is emphasized, but not overstated. That he would be last man on the range, searching for a slight tweak in his setup after shooting a second-round five-under 67 speaks to his commitment to maximizing his golf game, albeit in an unconventional manner. Whatever adjustment he made appeared to pay off Saturday: DeChambeau fired a six-under 66 to surge into the lead by himself at 14 under par. But after the round, he was focused on two mistakes from the day.
“Just keep thinking about those two 3-footers I missed,” DeChambeau said. Still, he clarified that he was “ecstatic” about his position. As for the late-night work? It’s part of a process.
“It’s just been a continual journey to try and get a little bit better each and every day and try and understand, okay, why did I miss that one left and why did I miss this one,” he said. This is the way DeChambeau talks, part sports cliche, part physics whiz. He concluded his post-round remarks by mentioning his continuing explanation of the “anatomical limits of your body and how you can best utilize them for your proprioception.” Then he headed for the range.
DeChambeau will face a worthy chase pack on Sunday. Patrick Cantlay made two eagles Saturday, one of them an ace at No. 8, and shot 66 to post 13 under, where he was joined by 36-hole co-leaders Joaquin Niemann and Kyle Stanley, who shot matching rounds of 70.
B.H. An sits alone in 5th at 12-under after a bogey-free 69. Further back are some bigger names: Justin Rose sits at 10-under, while Tiger Woods is among the group at nine under and Rory McIlroy sits at eight.
All will be in pursuit of DeChambeau, the 24-year-old Californian who already has four top-five finishes this year but has not won on Tour since the 2017 John Deere Classic. Tee times have been pushed up in an attempt to dodge inclement weather Sunday morning, which means DeChambeau will tee off alongside Cantlay and Stanley at 9:30 a.m.
Niemann, the Chilean teenager off a group behind him, is eager for a shot to track down his first professional victory. “It’s a strong field on the leaderboard and I think everybody’s going to go out there and try to make the most birdies possible,” he said. “So I think that I have to go low tomorrow to have a chance.”