Home Sports U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau hits ‘best shot of my life’ to outduel Rory McIlroy in epic finish

U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau hits ‘best shot of my life’ to outduel Rory McIlroy in epic finish

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Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

PINEHURST, N.C. – Golf has a new hero. Bryson DeChambeau captured his second US Open on Sunday, holding off a nine-second charge from Rory McIlroy to tame a treacherous Pinehurst.

In an epic battle, DeChambeau and McIlroy reached the 18th hole tied at 6 under par. McIlroy later missed a four-foot putt for par, opening the door for DeCheambeau. Except it took some witchcraft on DeChambeau’s part to make it happen.

After a wayward drive left him hunched under a tree, forcing him to hit into a greenside bunker, DeChambeau hit the bunker shot of his life, dropping it to four feet.

Unlike McIlroy, he would not fail and capture a second US Open championship.

“I can’t believe those ups and downs on the last one,” DeChambeau said. “Probably the best shot of my life.”

For McIlroy, it’s another major without lifting a trophy, this one perhaps as bitter as any of the 37 (and counting) since his last major victory at the 2014 PGA Championship. He missed two putts within four feet on the final three holes. Watching inside the scoring tent as DeChambeau’s putt fell, McIlroy understandably looked as dejected as ever.

For DeChambeau, who switched from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf two years ago, he suddenly became a favorite of the galleries, cheers and chants of “USA!” accompanying each of his steps. What this means for the current PGA Tour-LIV division remains to be seen, but it’s clear that DeChambeau is now one of the game’s top draws.

Entering the week, Scottie Scheffler reigned as the number one player, the number one betting favorite, and the number one story. After his victory at the Memorial, his fifth in his last eight tournaments, Scheffler was moving toward Scottie status against the field. Scheffler was supposed to work the range and the course like he did at Augusta, and like he probably should have at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, and then we’d all wonder if Scottie had been held by the Louisville Police Department . to win a grand slam.

Spoiler: Scheffler will not win the Grand Slam this year and the Louisville Police Department had nothing to do with it. Scheffler ran right into the other big story from earlier in the week: Pinehurst No. 2 itself. The course’s wicked combination of turtle greens, sandy wire roughness and blast-furnace heat leveled Scheffler, and many others, too. big names.

“The game of golf is sometimes a mental torture chamber,” Scheffler said after Saturday’s round, “especially the U.S. Open.”

On the other hand, the US Open offers entry to literally anyone who can survive the grind of qualifying, and that always leads to incredible stories of everyday people mixing with the professionals. One of this year’s best: Colin Prater, a high school biology teacher from Colorado who qualified to enter the tournament. Prater didn’t last long (he went 79-78 and missed the cut by 12 strokes), but he will have memories that will last the rest of his life.

Tuesday’s intense media blitz didn’t include much news, but it did offer two important off-course stories. McIlroy announced that he and his wife Erica called off their divorce, which may or may not have had an impact on McIlroy’s game. Jon Rahm showed up to his media session with a bandage on his toe, which no doubt had an impact on his week; Later that same day, Rahm announced that he had withdrawn from the tournament completely.

Rahm’s absence deprived the US Open of its 2021 champion and considerable star power as well, but given his 2024 season to date, it’s debatable how well even a healthy Rahm would have handled Pinehurst No. 2. As As things stand, LIV Golf literally bracketed the US open leaderboard, from DeChambeau at the top to Phil Mickelson at the bottom. Not only that, the USGA seems willing to invite more LIV Golf players to the US Open, regardless of whether the world rankings support them.

And then, as always during an important week, Thursday arrived and all worries outside the ropes faded away. The standings remained remarkably consistent, with most of Thursday’s leaders remaining throughout the weekend into Sunday afternoon. Cantlay set the pace on a surprisingly forgiving Thursday, tying the record for lowest round ever shot at a Pinehurst US Open at -5. A few hours later, McIlroy tied him to share the lead. Ludvig Åberg finished one shot behind, and Matthieu Pavon and DeChambeau were two behind the leaders.

Åberg, who has played two majors before this in his entire career, was the story of Friday, putting together a consistent round that allowed him to take the lead alone. But Cantlay, McIlroy, Pavon and DeChambeau came within two strokes.

In yet another sign of the generational shift in golf, Tiger Woods once again failed to make the cut, but this time he went a step further, hinting that he might actually be done with the US Open. Mickelson also stumbled during the week and left Pinehurst early, although few in the gallery saw him leave.

Saturday served as a reminder of how difficult a US Open can be and how good DeChambeau can be. Collin Morikawa set the stage early in the day by shooting a round of -4 that put him in the top 10 by sunset, but the day really belonged to DeChambeau, who battled his way to -7 while infuriating the gallery. Shouts of “United States!” accompanied every drive and birdie by DeChambeau, and there were plenty of both on Saturday.

The first pairings of the last day of the US Open were played almost seven hours before DeChambeau and Pavón. Scheffler, for example, concluded just as the leaders walked toward the first green, leaving town with a score of +8. Scheffler was most likely glad to be done with the “mental torture chamber” that is the US Open.

The USGA placed the US Open trophy just to the right of the first tee, which meant that all players had to look at it as they walked to the tee. However, none of the leaders gave him a glance, not even those who had won him before.

Most players walked to the first tee laterally in front of the clubhouse from the putting green. But DeChambeau emerged from a tunnel beneath the clubhouse, rising toward the light and through a crowd lined up three on either side, like a heavyweight boxer entering an arena before a title fight.

Before DeChambeau even had a chance to tee off, he lost a stroke of his lead. Later, on the first green, McIlroy sank a 20-foot putt and the roar from the gallery echoed toward the tee. With the leaders finally free, the US Open accelerated.

On the fourth, playing as the second most difficult hole of the day, DeChambeau recorded his first bogey to drop to -6, and Pavón his second to drop to -3. One hole ahead of them, McIlroy battled for the par-5 fifth, a beautiful 5-iron approach that slid from the green to the wire below. McIlroy’s long par putt slid and DeChambeau’s lead returned to two strokes.

DeChambeau’s early Sunday game clearly lacked Saturday’s punch, but McIlroy, Cantlay and Pavon couldn’t put more pressure on him. For every moment of brilliance and grip McIlroy summoned, he had an equally unsettling approach that put him out of position.

But as leaders moved closer to change, things got complicated. McIlroy made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 9th to get to -5, and behind him, DeChambeau, at -6, had to fight to make a 10-foot putt for par. When the putt went well, the gallery thundered and DeChambeau pumped his fist to keep McIlroy one stroke back.

So when DeChambeau made the turn, he stood at -6, with a one-stroke lead over McIlroy, a two-stroke lead over Cantlay and a four-stroke lead over a trio of players.

On the 10th, McIlroy tied the US Open, at least momentarily, with a 26-foot putt that curved for birdie and moved him to -6.

But DeChambeau remained relentless, chipping in to four feet on the same hole, setting up the first birdie of his round. He returns to one.

But McIlroy wasn’t done. He made a 22-foot birdie on the 12th to catch DeChambeau again, then made another short birdie on the 13th, his fifth of the day. That, along with a bogey by DeChambeau at the 12th, gave McIlory the solo lead for the first time.

“RO-RY! RO-RY! RO-RY” the crowd erupted as McIlroy walked to the 13th with a two-stroke lead.

Then came DeChambeau, who answered McIlroy by driving the 13th from 316 yards to 28 feet. His eagle putt was on point, but he was about three shots short. The birdie put him within one.

And when McIlroy bogeyed No. 14, the two were tied… again, but only for a moment.

DeChambeau had a birdie chance on the 14th, but blew it four feet into the hole. He then missed the comeback for par.

The pressure of the moment didn’t just get to DeChambeau, as just seven minutes later McIlroy missed his own par putt from less than four feet. Tie, again.

It would all come down to the final hole.

They both encountered the dirty and rough on their travels. McIlroy, a group ahead, had another short putt for par but missed. He hadn’t missed a putt within five feet all week; he missed two in the last three holes.

Behind him, Dechambeau hunched under a tree branch, a horrible posture/lie after another wayward journey. Unable to make a full swing, DeChambeau shot into a greenside bunker, still 55 yards between his ball and the hole.

And then he hit the shot of his life, leaving himself four feet away from the title. This time he would not fail.

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