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By Andrew Both
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) - Cruising along with a one-shot lead, Bryson DeChambeau appeared well on his way to a successful U.S. Open title defence on Sunday until an ugly back nine at Torrey Pines sent him spiralling down the leaderboard to 26th place.
The collapse was all the more spectacular as DeChambeau had gone 34 holes without dropping a stroke until his nosedive began with a bogey at the par four 11th.
DeChambeau looked in control on the front nine, picking up two birdies including a near hole-in-one at the eighth, and made the turn with a one-shot lead.
The slide began with the bogey at 11, which was followed by another at 12 and then a double bogey at the 13th, where his focus was not helped by a distraction from the gallery.
"There was a streaker that came around, and I had no idea what happened with that," he said. I'm just glad an officer ... took him down and got him out."
The worst was yet to come for DeChambeau -- a quadruple-bogey eight at the 17th -- and he eventually finished the round with a six-over-par 77 for a combined three-over 287, nine back of winner Jon Rahm.
DeChambeau said his slide was just part of the game.
"I didn't get off the rails at all. It's golf," he said. "People will say I did this or did that, and it's just golf.
"I've had plenty of times where I hit it way worse than today and I won.
"Nobody understands, at least if you play professional golf, major championship golf. A lot of it is luck," he added. "I caught the bad lies in the back nine today.
"It's frustrating in the moment when it's happening, but afterwards for me now, I don't really care as much.
"I've already won it."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Peter Rutherford)