Bryson just wins, Rory just doesn’t

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In the end it all comes down to a single putt.
Posted on
June 18, 2024
by
Robert Green in
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A total of 156 golfers teed up in the 2024 US Open played over the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst, North Carolina. On Sunday evening, the story essentially came down to just two of them. Bryson DeChambeau holed from four feet for par on the final hole after a sensational blast from a greenside bunker - “the shot of my life”, he called it - shortly after Rory McIlroy had missed from a similar distance for his par. That was the difference between finishing at six under par (274) versus five under. That was the difference between winning your second major championship – DeChambeau had won the ‘Covid US Open’ at Winged Foot in 2020 - and winning your fifth. For McIlroy, now 35, the decade-long wait to complete a handful of major championships goes on.

Following Brooks Koepka’s success in the USPGA Championship last year, the 30-year-old DeChambeau becomes the second player to win a major as a LIV golfer – and the circuit has only been going for two years. In that time, two other golfers, Cameron Smith and Jon Rahm, have defected to LIV after winning majors. DeChambeau is the captain of Crushers GC on the LIV franchise and at his victory press conference he name-checked the other members of it (Paul Casey, Charles Howell and Anirban Lahiri) for “continuing to push me in the right direction”. His prowess at Pinehurst will likely ensure that the already 700,000 viewers he has on his YouTube channel will substantially increase in number. And he certainly relished the contrast between the crowds at Pinehurst compared to the relative silence of four years ago. “The fans really helped push me out there today,” he said. “You know me. I don’t play boring golf.”

Bryson DeChambeau is surrounded by fans as he holds the US Open trophy
(Frank Franklin II/AP)

This triumph should have been no surprise. DeChambeau had tied for sixth at the Masters in April and at the USPGA last month he equalled the lowest total ever scored in a major championship - until Xander Schauffele in the final pairing came along and beat him by one. “Oh, man. I didn’t want to finish second again. The PGA really stung.” He added: “I was knocked down pretty hard in 2022 for numerous reasons, numerous scenarios, numerous things.” Things are distinctly better now.

McIlroy’s placings in his last six US Opens read 9-8-7-5-2-2. He has had 21 top-10s in the majors since he won his last one, in August 2014. Second best to him in that regard over that stretch is Koepka, with 17. He, however, has the significant consolation of having won five of the things in the meantime. McIlroy was left to rue his play over the last four holes. He was five over par for them on the weekend. On Sunday he missed a shorter (2½ feet, to be precise) par putt on 16 than he would do at the last, this having previously made every putt under five feet, and there had been 50 of them, that he had encountered during the week. Nick Faldo, six times a major winner, said afterwards: “That's going to haunt Rory for the rest of his life, those two misses.” For sure they were killers, with no bright side. For his part, McIlroy said: “Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I’ve had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer.”

DeChambeau led the field last week in terms of average driving distance, at 337.9 yards. He was just ahead of McIlroy. That’s how they finished in this championship, too – in the end, mostly down to what happened over three feet rather than over 300 yards.

 

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com

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About Robert Green

Robert Green is a former editor of Golf World and Golf International magazines and the author of four books on golf, including Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius. He has played golf on more than 450 courses around the world, occasionally acceptably.

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