Bryson DeChambeau’s Clutch Finish Tops McIlroy at U.S. Open

PINEHURST, N.C. — The 18th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday saw Bryson DeChambeau emerge victorious in the U.S. Open, while Rory McIlroy’s nearly decade-long major championship drought continued after one of the most heartbreaking near-misses of his career.

DeChambeau, captain of the LIV Golf League, clinched his second U.S. Open title with a dramatic finish. McIlroy, playing in the group ahead, missed a short par putt on the 18th for the second time in three holes. Seizing the opportunity, DeChambeau executed a difficult punch shot from near a tree root in the native area, landing in a bunker across the fairway. From there, he chipped to about four feet and sank the par putt, finishing 6 under par, one shot ahead of McIlroy.

“I was going to try and birdie the hole on 18 if I hit a good drive, but I pulled it,” DeChambeau said. “I knew where Rory was. After my tee shot, I thought, ‘If he makes par, I don’t know how I’m going to beat him.’ Then I heard the moans. It was like a shot of adrenaline. I said, ‘OK, you can do this.'”

Both DeChambeau and McIlroy, tied at 6 under, pulled their tee shots into the native area near the grandstand on the left of the 18th fairway. McIlroy’s ball landed behind a large clump of wiregrass, about 123 yards from the hole. His only option was to blast the ball through the grass and up the fairway, stopping just short of the green. His subsequent chip left him with a four-foot putt for par, which he missed. McIlroy could only watch as DeChambeau finished his round.

DeChambeau’s winning putt was watched by McIlroy on TV in the scorer’s room. He left the course quickly, without speaking to the media.

“Rory is one of the best to ever play,” DeChambeau said. “To compete 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.”

As DeChambeau walked off the 18th green, he shouted, “That’s Payne right there, baby!” This was a tribute to Payne Stewart, who defeated Phil Mickelson by one stroke with a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Stewart tragically died in a plane crash later that year. DeChambeau cited a mural of Stewart as one of the reasons he chose to attend SMU.

Reflecting on his final shot from the bunker, DeChambeau said, “I was just trying to land it where I did and let it run out to the right. Remembering Payne’s putt and how it broke up there was huge for me. This is the highlight of my life. It’s unbelievable.”

Matthieu Pavon, who played alongside DeChambeau, called his performance on the 18th a “master class.” “What’s most impressive about Bryson is not just his distance. His short game on 18 was amazing. He has no weakness; he’s a truly great champion.”

DeChambeau, who won the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, started the final round with a three-stroke lead but briefly lost it to McIlroy on the back nine before reclaiming it. He posted a 1-over 71 in the final round, becoming the first U.S. Open champion to record a score over par in the final round since Graeme McDowell at Pebble Beach in 2010.

“When I saw I was a couple back, I thought, ‘Nope, I’m not going to let that happen.’ I focused on making it happen,” DeChambeau said. “I got a bit lucky with Rory missing some putts.”

McIlroy posted a 1-under 69, finishing runner-up in a major for the fourth time in his career. He also finished second in the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. He is the second player in 40 years to finish runner-up by one shot in consecutive years in the same major; Jim Furyk did so in the U.S. Open in 2006-07.

Tony Finau (3-under 67) and Patrick Cantlay (even-par 70) tied for third at 4 under. Pavon, aiming to become the first French golfer to win the U.S. Open, finished fifth with a 1-over 71 on Sunday.

The first U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in a decade will be remembered for McIlroy’s collapse as much as DeChambeau’s victory. McIlroy, seeking his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, saw his chances slip away with bogeys on the final holes.

“He’ll win multiple more majors, there’s no doubt,” DeChambeau said. “That fire in him will keep growing. When he was ahead, I thought, ‘Uh-oh.’ But things went my way today.”

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