Sunday at the 2024 United States (US) Open at Pinehurst No. 2 will be remembered for a long time, as two major champions in Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau fought for the thousandth United States Golf Association (USGA) Championship. Heading into the back-nine on Sunday, the two players created a gap with the rest of the field, and it was shaping up to be a two-man race to the clubhouse.

Through McIlroy’s first 14 holes, he appeared to be in full control of his game, notching four birdies in a five-hole stretch. However, the final three holes of his round will forever define his tournament, and those prior birdies seemed to dwindle in importance. 

On the 16th hole, McIlroy faced a putt that measured two feet, six inches for par. McIlroy was 496/496 on putts inside three feet this season leading up to the tournament. He gave the putt too much pace as it flirted with the cup before lipping out on the left edge. The groans of the crowd seemed to swing the doors wide open for DeChambeau to fight back for the championship, as there were still two holes to go. 

Stepping onto the 18th tee box, McIlroy and Dechambeau were tied for the lead at 6-under par. After missing his drive left into the native area and leaving his approach shot short of the green, McIlroy hit his chip to three feet, nine inches. Just a bit further than the putt he missed about 20 minutes prior on the 16th green. Chants of “Rory, Rory” echoed around the property as McIlroy made his way down the 72nd hole, still needing to hole a crucial putt. 

This time, he didn’t give the ball enough pace, as it missed on the low side before lipping out once again, as he walked into the clubhouse at 5-under par. 

“A shot of adrenaline got in me,” DeChambeau said after watching McIlroy bogey the final hole. Now it was his turn to step to the plate, and his drive found the native area, forcing him to layup into a 55-yard bunker shot. This was one of the awkwardest and hardest bunker shots to pull off, let alone adding a U.S. Open title on the line to add to the emotions.

Bryson DeChambeau courtesy flickr

Bryson hit the shot of the tournament, putting his ball just below the hole at three feet, 11 inches.

McIlroy could only watch from the clubhouse as DeChambeau’s putt was center-cut, fist-pumping his way to victory, serenaded by “USA, USA” chants. 

“Rory is one of the best ever to play, he’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt,” DeChambeau said following his victory. 

After watching the putt on TV, McIlroy decided to leave the property before talking to the media. McIlroy is typically a class act, whether it’s in the joy of victory or in the hands of defeat, but this came as a surprise to many in the golfing world.

Rory McIlroy courtesy flickr

McIlroy was supposed to play in the following week’s Travelers Championship, a PGA Tour Signature Event, but posted on his X account, “I’m going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defense of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon.” 

He also gave his flowers to DeChambeau in the statement: “I’d like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.” 

Bryson DeChambeau jokingly referred to as the greatest YouTube golfer of all time, captured his second U.S. Open. DeChambeau’s scientific approach to the game previously attracted lots of criticism to his game, but fans have flocked to him in recent years with his entertaining style of play on the course. From entering long drive contests to using the most upright putter on tour to using same-length clubs, DeChambeau is the definition of unconventional. He’s been a trendsetter on tour, to say the least. 

DeChambeau became the latest active LIV golfer to win a major after Brooks Koepka took home the PGA Championship last year at Oak Hill Country Club. 

The next and final major of the year will be held at Royal Troon Golf Club from July 18-21. If McIlroy fails to win, it will officially mark ten years without a major championship.