McIlroy Falters, Bryson Shines Down the Stretch – Wins 2nd U.S. Open

PINEHURST, N.C. – All week at Pinehurst Resort, the USGA rolled out the dedications to 1999 U.S. Open Champion Payne Stewart, and by the end of the week, his SMU acolyte Bryson DeChambeau hoisted the trophy in heroic fashion. Regardless of who you happened to be pulling for, the Sunday finish was an instant classic.

DeChambeau took the famed Donald Ross design by storm, dazzling the crowd with his prodigious length off the tee, his emotion, and fan interaction . . . and perhaps most importantly, an array of shortgame wizardry. The method resembled lot more of Mickelson, than Payne Stewart – but the result was nearly a carbon copy of the theatrics of 25 years ago (when Stewart saved par at the last in a dramatic duel with Lefty).

This year’s U.S. Open marked the 25th anniversary of Stewart’s career swan song, and tragic death. Stewart is immortalized with a statue that is usually behind the clubhouse overlooking the 18th green on No. 2 (for the championship they moved the statue into the fan entry area so spectators could take photos and interact on the way into the course). Furthermore, in a touch of class, the USGA had a logo of Payne’s triumphant fist pump on the 18th hole flag for Sunday’s final round. And just like his idol, DeChambeau captured his win with an unlikely par of his own on the home hole.

After a poor drive into the native area, Bryson chopped out, but the shot came out low and hot – running into a cross bunker, 52 yards from the hole. His explosion landed perfectly on the front middle portion of the green and trundled down within 3 feet of the hole.

Before the shot, his caddie offered encouragement, “You got this shot,” said Bodine. “I’ve seen way harder shots pulled off from you.”

Starting the day 3 strokes behind, Rory McIlroy seemed to be in control as he stood on the 15th tee holding a two stroke lead, but things unraveled from there. A couple of tough breaks, combined with two very costly self-inflicted wounds (missed short putts at the 16th & 18th) doomed the Ulsterman to once again finish as a runner-up. McIlroy’s final round 69 had him finish at 5 under par. DeChambeau’s 1-over 71 in the final round, was just enough to keep McIlroy’s decade long major drought intact. Bryson finished at 6-under 274 total, capturing his second major championship (Winged Foot 2020).

DeChambeau came into Pinehurst trending, he finished in sixth at the Masters in April, and was runner-up at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, a stroke behind Xander Schauffele.

“I’m so happy I got that shot up-and-down on 18,” DeChambeau said Sunday. “Oh, man, I didn’t want to finish second again. PGA really stung. Xander played magnificent. I wanted to get this one done, especially at such a special place that means so much to me, SMU, my dad, what Payne meant to him, 1,000th USGA championship. Stack them on top. That bunker shot was the shot of my life.”

Tony Finau (67) and Patrick Cantlay (70) finished third at 4 under par.

Scores: https://www.usopen.com/2024/scoring.html

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