DeChambeau wins second U.S. Open after McIlroy lets title slip away

Rory McIlroy struggled down the stretch, bogeying three of his last four holes, while Bryson DeChambeau made a miraculous sand save on the 72nd hole to win his second U.S. Open with a final score of 6-under.

PINEHURST, N.C. — At 7:29 p.m. ET on Sunday, Rory McIlroy’s plane departed a private airport near the U.S. Open venue bound for his home in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Bryson DeChambeau was still in the middle of his winner’s press conference.

McIlroy darted out of the third men’s major championship of the year without a word. He watched as DeChambeau hit an incredible bunker shot from in front of the green on the 72nd hole to within four feet, rolled in the par-saver, threw his arms up in the air in jubilation, and won the U.S. Open for the second time.

He topped McIlroy by one shot.

McIlroy is a pro’s pro who has won everything there is in professional golf – but he lost this one.

After going 496-for-496 from three feet (or closer) so far this season he missed a two-foot, six-inch attempt for par on No. 16 and a three-foot, nine-inch attempt for par on No. 18. He was 8 under on the 15th tee and DeChambeau would go on to win the tournament at 6 under.

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“Rory is one of the best to ever play. Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. For him to miss that putt, I’d never wish it on anybody. It just happened to play out that way,” DeChambeau said. “He’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt. I think that fire in him is going to continue to grow.”

McIlroy, who became the first player to finish in the top 10 at seven consecutive U.S. Opens since Jack Nicklaus (1977-82) but the first to finish in the top 10 seven straight times and not win since Jack Hobens 114 years ago, managed to do everything this Sunday that had alluded him in previous Sundays as he was chasing down major championships.

In the end, however, the putter did him in – again.

The collective stomach churning around the 18th green at Pinehurst (we could probably do without the ‘USA! USA!’ chants after McIlroy missed his par attempt on the last, however) could have fuelled the whole of Pepto-Bismol’s third financial quarter.

McIlroy made a 14-footer on No. 9 for birdie, a 27-footer on No. 10, and a 22-footer on No. 12. You could sense something special was afoot – and so could DeChambeau.

“I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf because, to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, he was two ahead, I was like, ‘Uh-oh, uh-oh,’” DeChambeau said. “But luckily things went my way today.”

That’s why they play 18 holes.

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DeChambeau looked lost at times with his driver, the key club in his bag all week, as he was doing some different testing just before his round began – even unwrapping the plastic off a new head. He hit only five fairways on Sunday.

“I was trying to get a fresh head in there. It had a good curvature on the face, but it was a little bit lower loft. For whatever reason, those lower lofted heads have been missing right. Consequently, I missed it right all day,” DeChambeau admitted.

“Probably needed to work it in more, more than just hitting five balls with it.”

Everyone knows DeChambeau is one of the biggest hitters in the game – he’s LIV Golf’s longest driver and was the same on the PGA Tour before making the leap to the rival circuit – but it all came down to his touch around the green on Sunday.  

Matthieu Pavon, who played with DeChambeau in the final round and finished fifth, said he was “amazed” by the quality of his playing partner’s short game – especially when the pressure was at its peak on the 72nd hole. 

“It’s a master class,” Pavon said. “He’s a hell of a player. He has no weakness, and he’s a truly great champion.”

This particular week, DeChambeau ended up as the champion and McIlroy did not. It was a battle to the end, of course, with two titans of this game going down to the wire.

Sunday was more than a LIV golfer against the PGA Tour loyalist. McIlroy is this generation’s most prolific winner, and he ripped up the final-round leaderboard at a major against a going-to-do-it-my-way mad scientist.

It’s entertainment, right? And DeChambeau has embraced that role for another generation of golf fans.

“My mission is to continue to expand the game, grow the game globally, domestically. YouTube has really helped me accomplish some of that. Consequently, I think people have seen who I am on YouTube, which has been fantastic, because then I get to play off of it. It just feeds itself out here,” DeChambeau said. “You know me. I don’t play boring golf.”

Sunday was theatre on a tremendous canvas (let’s not forget how much of a star Pinehurst No. 2 was, either), and for all the drama to get us to the finish line, you add up the scores and there can only be one winner.

“I’d love to have a lot more battles with him. It would be a lot of fun,” DeChambeau said of his closest challenger Sunday. “But, yeah, Rory’s going to do it at some point.”

Will he, though? We didn’t get a chance to ask.

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