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Captain’s pick

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Anthony L. Cuaycong

Courtside

Bryson DeChambeau likes to keep a conversation going when he’s playing. It’s his way of loosening up, of battling nerves, and of getting himself relaxed for the task at hand. It doesn’t matter if he’s muddling through a practice round or in the thick of tournament action; he’ll chat his flightmates up. To be fair, he does know how to keep interest, turning his vocal exertions to anything from jokes to topics reflective of his Physics degree.

Yesterday, DeChambeau proved true to form and engaged famously introverted Tiger Woods in a continuing, if friendly, verbal back and forth. Never mind that they were in contention at the Dell Technologies Championship, with the 14-time major winner’s usual throng of spectators watching their every move and straining to listen to their every word. It certainly worked to his advantage; his eight-under effort, punctuated by two birdies and an eagle on his last three holes, catapulted him 19 spots to second heading into today’s final round.

To be fair, DeChambeau didn’t exactly ambush Woods with his style. In fact, the latter is familiar with his ebullience; they’ve been hitting golf courses together of late. And while yesterday was the first time they teed off alongside each other in competition, his childhood idol had nothing but praise for him in the aftermath. “He’s fantastic to play with. He’s great.” Which is to say outstanding play precipitated outstanding play. The 11-time PGA Tour Player of the Year was superb from tee to green, with a balky putter on the back nine the only hindrance to an equally low score.

Today, DeChambeau will want to show that his palaver predilections lead to success anew. He will be in the last group with provisional leader Abraham Ancer, in prime position to claim his second straight victory in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. In any case, it’s clear that the so-called “mad scientist” who uses clubs of equal length and who takes Homer Kelly’s “The Gold Machine” to heart will be named as a captain’s pick to the Ryder Cup. He’s too good, and in too much of a roll, to miss out on golf’s premier biennial event. And, for all the right reasons, it will be the better for his presence.

 

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.

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