March 20, 2016
NorCal’s DeChambeau, McNealy and The King
Stanford junior Maverick McNealy simply described it as “awesome.” Bryson DeChambeau, meanwhile, called it “a thrill.”
That included not only the golf, but also being around The King.
McNealy, who won last year’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, and DeChambeau, who hails from Clovis, had a weekend to remember playing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Playing in the same group with Rory McIlroy, DeChambeau carded a final 6-under 66 to finish T-27. In a little less than three weeks, the 22-year-old 2015 U.S. Amateur champion will play in his first Masters.
“I was pretty darn comfortable out there,” said DeChambeau, the 2011 Junior Tour of Northern California Boys’ Player of the Year. “My first time on the Tour (at the FedEx Cup St. Jude Classic) it was a little nerve-wracking. Rory and I were feeding off of each other. It was great to get that experience. You could see what momentum is. We had a lot of fun out there.”
Also playing via a sponsor’s exemption, the 20-year-old McNealy soaked it up every minute as well.
“I think the biggest thing I need to improve is my driving,” said McNealy, who T-46 thanks in part to an opening 69. “That sets up every shot and it’s incredible how much more difficult it is to play out of the rough on the PGA Tour than it is versus the rough in college. It takes really, really good golf to compete with these guys.”
Of course, the two also got to spend some precious time with The King.
DeChambeau, who plans to turn pro after the Masters, had previously met Palmer briefly at the Walker Cup practice session with Captain ‘Spider’ Miller and the rest of the squad. This time, he got to visit with Palmer in his office.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” DeChambeau said.
Also a former member of the JTNC, McNealy was followed by Palmer over the back-nine on Thursday.
“Playing the back-nine at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with Mr. Palmer watching was the coolest golf experience in my life,” McNealy said. “This is something I’m going to tell my kids and grandkids about.”