Bryson DeChambeau is quick to thank sponsors, coaches and others who encompass his entourage after every PGA Tour victory. He did that again on Sunday, after he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. He also thanked Tiger Woods.
Woods was in a serious car accident on Feb. 23 and continues to receive care as he recovers from injuries. His official Twitter account has sent three tweets since, two statements from Woods’ team and a third, on last Sunday, about players’ tribute to the 15-time major champ. The latter also seemed like a message Woods might have typed himself.
Minutes after his victory on Sunday, in which he held off Lee Westwood by one, DeChambeau said he received a text from Woods earlier that morning. If anyone knows Bay Hill, it’s Woods, who has won eight times there.
“He obviously had done really well here and was very instrumental in Mr. Palmer’s life, as Mr. Palmer was to Tiger,” DeChambeau said on the TV broadcast, eventually fighting back tears. “We just talked about just keep fighting no matter what happens. Play boldly, as Mr. Palmer said. My heart has been heavy with Tiger with what’s been going on with him, and I just kept telling myself, ya know, it’s not how many times you get kicked down, it’s about how many times you get back up and keep going, and that’s what I did out there today.”
Asked later when meeting with the press to elaborate on the texts with Woods, DeChambeau said: “Well, it was obviously personal, I would say, for the most part, but pretty much to sum it up, he texted me this morning out of the blue and I wasn’t expecting anything. When I got that text, I’m like, Wow, that’s pretty amazing that he is thinking of me when he’s in his tough times that he’s going through right now. So I just texted him, I said, ‘Keep moving forward, keep going forward. You’re going to get through it. You’re the hardest-working person I’ve ever met and you’ll persevere through this.’ One of the things that we talked about was, it’s not about how many times you get kicked to the curb or knocked down. It’s about how many times you can get back up and keep moving forward. And I think this red cardigan is not only for Mr. Palmer, but I would say it’s a little bit for Tiger as well, knowing what place he’s in right now.”
DeChambeau, who won for the first time since he claimed the U.S. Open in September, started the day a shot behind Westwood but signed for a 71 to win. He had some key saves along the way, like the 50-footer he made for par on 11 and the nervy six-footer he rolled in to win on 18.
“You know one of the things that stuck in my mind was Tiger and how he kept fighting,” DeChambeau said. “A lot of the conditions were similar to the U.S. Open and that helped me. That helped me feel comfortable out there and I knew there was going to be tough conditions out there.”
It was DeChambeau’s first win at Bay Hill — just seven shy of Woods.
“He helped me out quite a bit this morning,” DeChambeau said.