DeChambeau Claims 2nd U.S. Open Title

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Pro News

DeChambeau Survives Challenging Sunday at Pinehurst to Claim 2nd U.S. Open Title

By: Julia Pine – USGA Communications

Once again, an up-and-down par on the 72nd hole decided a U.S. Open Championship for a former Southern Methodist University golfer at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2.

It might not have been an 18-footer by the late Payne Stewart on an uncharacteristically misty day in the North Carolina Sandhills, but the remarkable sand save by Bryson DeChambeau to win the 124th edition by one stroke in what was the 1,000th USGA championship was every bit as dramatic.

DeChambeau, who carried a three-stroke advantage into Sunday’s final round on a glorious sunny Father’s Day afternoon, survived a wild back nine that saw him lose the lead to four-time major champion Rory McIlroy before executing a perfect bunker shot from 54 yards on the par-4 18th hole to 4 feet. It came some 15 minutes after McIlroy, seeking his first major title in 10 years, lipped out a 4-foot par putt for his third bogey over his final four holes, dropping him one shot behind DeChambeau.

After DeChambeau, whose short game was impeccable the entire week, holed the putt, the packed grandstands around the 18th green erupted in one of the loudest roars of the week. It capped off a 1-over-par 71 for a 72-hole total of 6-under 274.

“I’m so happy I got that shot up-and-down on 18,” DeChambeau told the assembled media. “Oh, man, I didn’t want to finish second again. PGA really stung. Xander [Schauffele] played magnificent.

“I wanted to get this one done, especially at such a special place that means so much to me, SMU, my [late] dad (Jon who died in 2022 from diabetes), what Payne meant to him, 1000th USGA championship. Stack them on top. That bunker shot was the shot of my life. I’ll forever be thankful that I’ve got longer wedges so I can hit it farther, get it up there next to the hole.”

The 30-year-old Grapevine, Texas, resident of Clovis, Calif., joins a select group of 23 golfers who have won multiple U.S. Open titles, including Ben Hogan, Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and fellow Mustang Stewart. Like Nicklaus and Woods, he also owns U.S. Amateur and NCAA individual crowns to go along with his National Open victories.

When the final pairings teed off shortly after 2urst No. 2 sounded like a rock concert with deafening roars cheering on the combatants, including p.m. EDT, Pineh Patrick Cantlay, Matthieu Pavon and Tony Finau. Finau’s final-round 67 matched the day’s lowest round, earning him a career-best tie for third with Cantlay at 4-under 276. Cantlay, an eight-time PGA Tour winner still seeking a first major title, fired a 70, while Pavon, the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open champion who had never been in a final-round final pairing in a major, posted a 71 for solo fifth at 277.

Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, finished sixth (278) after a final-round 70. Russell Henley and world No. 2 Schauffele tied for seventh at 1-under 279 after shooting 67 and 68, respectively.

Even though the final round began with three players trailing DeChambeau by three strokes, it ultimately came down to a two-man race between McIlroy and DeChambeau, two of the game’s biggest stars.

Unfortunately for the affable Northern Irishman, who carded a second consecutive 69, Pinehurst’s last four holes were the difference between him getting major No. 5 and suffering another Grand Slam heartache. Over the weekend, he played Holes 15-18 in 5 over par, missing two par putts inside 5 feet on Sunday at 16 and 18. Otherwise, he had been 50 for 50 on putts of 5 feet or less for the week. In Saturday’s third round, he bogeyed the two closing par 3s, Nos. 15 and 17, failing to get up and down from greenside bunkers.

McIlroy started off Sunday blistering hot, converting a 21-footer for birdie on the par-4 opening hole. In a five-hole stretch from No. 9, he made three birdies from 15 feet or more, including a 27-footer on the par-5 10th, and got up and down for birdie on the 316-yard 13th hole, holing a 5-footer to reach 8 under par for the championship. That came as DeChambeau bogeyed No. 12 to fall back to 6 under par.

The stars seemed aligned for McIlroy to end his 10 years of major misery. A year ago, he came up a stroke short of Wyndham Clark at The Los Angeles Country Club. At the 150th Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, he fired a pedestrian 2-under 70 on Sunday as Cameron Smith shot 64 and hoisted the Claret Jug.

Going back to his 2014 triumph in the PGA Championship – a span now covering 37 major championships – McIlroy owns 21 top-10 finishes in majors. Besides his 2023 U.S. Open runner-up, he finished second or tied for second in the 2018 Open Championship and 2022 Masters. He finished no worse than solo eighth in all four majors in 2022.

“At the end of the day we are all human,” said Pavon of McIlroy, who declined media requests. “Rory has been chasing another major [for] many years. He is one of the best players in the world, a true champion. The more you want it, the tougher it gets, and the highest expectation you have for yourself, the tougher it gets. Maybe this is a little bit of pressure that got him today for sure, but Rory is just a massive champion. I’m sure he will fight back and really soon.”

This U.S. Open triumph completes a two-year transformation for DeChambeau. In 2022, he surprised many by departing the PGA Tour for the upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. He also bulked up through weight training and diet in an effort to gain more distance, but the transition turned DeChambeau into something of a polarizing figure.

In the past year, he slimmed down and and began endearing himself more to fans. In April, he contended at the Masters, only to finish in a share of sixth, nine strokes behind winner and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. A month later, he was simply outdueled by Schauffele, despite shooting 20 under par at Valhalla Golf Club in the PGA Championship.

“I don’t know what to think; it hasn’t fully sunk in yet,” said DeChambeau of his second U.S. Open title. “I just want everybody to enjoy it, as well. As much as it is heartbreaking for some people, it was heartbreak for me at the PGA. I really wanted this one.

“When I turned the corner and saw I was a couple back, I said, ‘Nope, I’m not going to let that happen.’ I have to focus on figuring out how to make this happen. I was a little lucky. Rory didn’t make a couple putts that he could have coming in. I had an amazing up-and-down on the last. I don’t know what else to say. It’s a dream come true.”

From the moment he arrived on property at Pinehurst, DeChambeau interacted with many of the thousands of golf fans who flocked to see the world’s best golfers compete on Donald Ross’ masterpiece. He welcomed the roars and high-fived with spectators as he walked between holes.

Always one of the game’s longest hitters – he led the field in average driving distance at 337.9 yards, just ahead of McIlroy – DeChambeau showcased a dexterity around Ross’ inverted-saucer greens. Even when he had to replace his driver head prior to Sunday’s round, DeChambeau maintained his confidence in his biggest weapon, although he hit only 5 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens.

His up-and-down for par on the par-4 eighth hole was a perfect illustration of that touch. A poor drive led to an approach that sailed over the green. Faced with a 96-foot recovery shot, DeChambeau’s pitch stopped 11 feet from the flagstick, and he let out a yell after converting the par putt.

“What’s most impressive about Bryson is not that he hits the ball far,” said Pavon, who got a front-row seat on Sunday to DeChambeau’s wizardry. “Everybody knows it. I was amazed by the quality of the short game on 18. It’s a master class. Short game on 8, up-and-down on 8, was really, really clutch. He’s a hell of a player. He has no weakness, and he’s a truly great champion.”

DeChambeau had a couple of hiccups on the second nine. A bogey on 12 followed another poor drive and he three-putted 15, missing from 5½ feet. But he also nearly converted birdie putts from 23 and 18 feet on Nos. 16 and 17, which could have vaulted him ahead of McIlroy going to the 72nd hole.

A wild hook left on the 449-yard closing hole left him an awkward lie in the native area, but he managed to put his second into a front bunker to set up his magnificent third to 4 feet.

The crowd went crazy and DeChambeau celebrated with caddie Greg Bodine and the rest of his team just off the 18th green before receiving the U.S. Open Trophy from USGA President Fred Perpall.

It starkly contrasted his 2020 triumph at Winged Foot during the COVID-19 pandemic where no fans were allowed on the property. His post-championship celebration took place via Cisco Web Ex. The roars were internal. This week, DeChambeau truly relished the crowds.

“It’s direct conversations with people who truly engage with what I’m doing,” said DeChambeau of his interaction with fans. “Those fans really helped push me out there today. You know me; I don’t play boring golf.”

Photo courtesy of the USGA