Bryson DeChambeau wins U.S. Open, beating Rory McIlroy on a wild Sunday

American scrambles for par on final hole for one-shot victory

Pinehurst, N.C. • Bryson DeChambeau has been knocking on the door. On a chaotic, at times unbelievable Sunday at the U.S. Open, he found a way to barge in and once again declare himself a major champion.

With the tournament on the line at Pinehurst No. 2, DeChambeau put himself in trouble — he drove well left with his drive, finding himself in the native area, crouched underneath a tree, his ball resting near a branch and a one-shot lead in his pocket.

A half-swing put him into a bunker 55 yards away from the pin, only to hit it to four feet. He watched the putt to give him a one-stroke win over Rory McIlroy drop, thrust his arms into the air and let out a primal scream, gesturing to all of the crowd that had been in his corner all day.

McIlroy and DeChambeau were tied on No. 18 at 6-under-par, and McIlroy had 3 feet and 9 inches for a par putt that would have led to a playoff. He missed it, the second short missed putt in his final three holes. McIlroy was shown on the NBC broadcast sitting in the scorer’s tent as DeChambeau won the golf tournament, turned and walked out. He left the golf course without talking to NBC, Golf Channel or any other assembled media.

Bryson DeChambeau hits from the bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

It is DeChambeau’s second U.S. Open win. The first was in 2020 at Winged Foot. This one came at Pinehurst, the same place one of DeChambeau’s heroes, Payne Stewart, won 25 years ago.

DeChambeau began the day with a three-shot lead over McIlroy, who was tied with two others at 4-under. But that deficit became two when McIlroy birdied the first hole, and stayed that way for most of the front nine. McIlroy, who said Saturday night he felt comfortable playing in the group in front of DeChambeau, picked up a stroke on the par-3 ninth, then birdied the par-5 10th (which DeChambeau then had to match with a birdie of his own).

McIlroy drained a 22-foot putt on the par-4 12th to tie DeChambeau, which became the lead after the latter bogeyed the hole. Then McIlroy came to the driveable No. 13, playing at a distance of 316 yards, and hit it 336 to a grandstand. The ball bounced off the awning and into a tidy spot, where was able to get up on the green and then make a five-foot birdie putt that gave him a two-stroke lead with five holes to play.

It was short-lived. He hit it 232 yards on the par-3 15th, a problem because it was playing at 205 yards. The chip from beyond the green rolled past, and he two-putted for bogey. Still, a one stroke lead.

DeChambeau, who finished in second place at last month’s PGA Championship, was more lucky than good on Sunday, repeatedly needing a fortunate bounce and leaning on his scrambling skills over the type of “boring” golf that he used to get him to this point — find the fairway, then the middle part of the green.

He hit it everywhere but the fairway on Sunday. DeChambeau three-putted No. 15, his first three-putt of the week, to fall to 6-under. It felt over, only McIlroy then looked over a 3-foot, 8-inch putt on No. 16 for par and hit it a hair left, rimming it around the cup.

McIlroy’s decade-long major championship drought will continue at least until next month’s Open Championship.

Over the past three months, DeChambeau, who left the PGA Tour for LIV in 2022, has thrust himself back onto the sport’s main stage, major by major.

The 30-year-old began the major season finishing tied for sixth at Augusta National. Known as golf’s mad scientist, DeChambeau debuted a set of one-of-one 3D-printed irons and emerged as the willing entertainer the golf community didn’t realize they needed. That revelation only continued at the PGA Championship.

DeChambeau just missed out on a playoff against the eventual champion Xander Schauffele and settled for solo second, but doubled down on his YouTube-inspired showmanship with animated fist pumps and interactions with the Valhalla crowd. At the U.S. Open, the support for DeChambeau took on a life of its own as the Dallas resident captured his second major championship on Father’s Day, two years after losing his father Jon to a battle with kidney disease at age 63.

“Probably every hole,” DeChambeau said Saturday night to Golf Channel, moments after shooting a 67 to open up a three-shot lead. “… I’m going to give it my all for him.”

It took just that.

DeChambeau can credit his victory at Pinehurst No. 2 to a disciplined game plan Thursday-Saturday largely uncharacteristic of the man who overpowered Winged Foot at the 2020 U.S. Open with a bomb-and-gauge strategy. At the classic Donald Ross design, DeChambeau vowed to play “boring golf,” making conservative decisions off the tee and aiming for the fattest portions of the course’s infamous turtleback-shaped greens.

He leaned on a Boo Weekly quote that resurfaced frequently in his post-round interviews: “The middle of the green never moves.”

DeChambeau’s power only added to the execution of such an approach: He often had higher-lofted clubs in hand from the fairway, allowing him to create frequent birdie opportunities at a venue that can send top players plummeting down the leaderboard with single swings. But more than anything, DeChambeau’s putter led the way.

Through three rounds at Pinehurst, DeChambeau was 17-for-19 from 4 to 8 feet, per The Athletic contributor Justin Ray. Those are the strokes that won the U.S. Open for DeChambeau and led to his rounds of 67, 69, 67 and 71, for a tournament total of 274.

DeChambeau’s victory at Pinehurst makes him the fifth player since World War II to win multiple U.S. Opens by the age of 30, joining Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka. Only Bobby Jones, Nicklaus, Woods and now DeChambeau have won the U.S. Amateur and multiple U.S. Opens.

DeChambeau turned professional in 2016 after a stellar NCAA campaign at SMU. He has eight PGA Tour victories and two LIV Golf titles, including one at LIV Greenbrier, where he shot a record-tying final round 58.