Bryson DeChambeau Wins His Second U.S. Open

Bryson DeChambeau Wins His Second U.S. Open June 16, 2024

They say “it’s better to be lucky than good.” Bryson DeChambeau may have proved that today. He won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 by one stroke over Rory McIlroy even though Bryson kept missing fairways to the right in the “native areas” with sand and constant clumps of gnarly, wire grass, yet having playable shots to the greens. Plus, Rory gave him two gifts on the 16th and 18th holes by missing short putts.

Still, Bryson made a heroic par four save on the last hole to seal the deal. This time he drove left into trouble, having to negotiate tree limbs on his short backswing, and wedged out into a sand bunker. Then he played the shot of his life from about forty yards to 3-4 feet from the hole and canned the putt to lift that most coveted USGA trophy again.

It was a day that kept us TV golf fans on edge in our seats the entire time. DeChambeau started the day with a three-stroke lead ahead of McIlroy and two others. It appeared more likely that if Bryson was going to win this tournament, Rory would be his main challenger. And that’s what happened. By the middle of the back nine, McIlroy—playing in the twosome right in front of DeChambeau, who was in the last twosome—was leading the tournament with a two stroke lead over DeChambeau with five holes to play. Then the fireworks started popping.

Bryson drove the 315-yard, par-four, 13th hole with a three metalwood, landing his ball on the green and it settling about 25 feet from the hole for an eagle putt, which he two-putted for an easy birdie. On the par three 15th hole, Rory hit what appeared to be a good iron shot that landed in the middle of the green. But the ball barely rolled over the green and downhill, causing Rory to make a bogey four. On the long par four 16th hole, he played good looking shots again, yet missed a par putt that seemed to be only 20 inches long to walk away with a bogey five. And on the 18th hole, Rory missed another short putt to make bogey, and it appeared to be perhaps three feet or a little more. DeChambeau now only needed a par four on that 18th hole to win.

Ask any pro, “what is the hardest shot in golf?” and they all will tell you, “a long sand bunker shot.” Indeed, and that’s what Bryson DeChambeau had on the 18th hole for his third shot. But the TV didn’t do that shot justice. I know, because I’ve played many tournaments at Pinehurst No. 2. The pin was located at the most difficult place on that green–in the back. That green rises in the back, and if you hit your ball just a little too hard, it will roll past the hole, over the green and downhill, leaving a difficult next shot. Also, if Bryson hit that shot just a little to the right of the hole, the ball would do the same and roll off downhill to the right and off the green.

Bryson said afterwards that that was the shot of his life, hitting the ball from the sand, about forty or fifty yards away, to about four feet and made the putt for the win. He then very appropriately went nuts with emotion, and the crowd loved it.

But the day was a bitter pill for the Irishman Rory McIlroy, who now lives in Florida, to swallow. Over ten years ago he won four majors and looked like a dominant PGA Tour star who would win many more. But he has not won a major since, and the media attention on it must be overbearing for him. Those two missed short putts today on the closing holes will no doubt haunt him for a long time, as they would for anyone.

There at Pinehurst No. 2, they have a statue of Payne Stewart because he won the U.S. Open there in 1999 for his third major win. Friendly Payne Stewart was such an emotional and beloved guy by both his peers and golf fans. Yet he died in his own jet airplane crash only four months later when the pilot failed to close a valve. That and Tony Lema’s plane crash were probably the two greatest tragedies in PGA Tour history.

Payne Stewart became a hero to the young Bryson DeChambeau. When Bryson was trying to decide where he would go to college, he visited Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. When he saw a photo of Payne Stewart there, he didn’t know Payne had gone to school there, and that caused Bryson to attend SMU where he got a physics degree.

I played one PGA Tour tournament round with Payne Stewart. It was at the Memphis tournament. He was such a personable guy and thus a pleasure to be with.

Payne Stewart had a dramatic Christian conversion late in life that was greatly affected by his wife. It was reported voluminously that Payne couldn’t stop talking about his relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That, too, seems to have impacted Bryson DeChambeau. But he says during college a golf book written by Wes Nealy influenced him the most, which combines golf advice with Christian living.

Golf Digest reported in an article date April 22, 2016, and entitled “The Zealot: Bryson DeChambeau” that Colossians 3.23 is his favorite Bible verse which reads, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” I think we are going to hear more about what Bryson DeChambeau thinks and perhaps more about his Christian convictions.

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