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The Grind

Bryson DeChambeau’s ‘drunk’ drive, Rory McIlroy’s Irish goodbye and an unexpected magical U.S. Open moment

June 18, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we still can’t wrap our heads around what we saw happen at the U.S. Open on Sunday. The clutch shots, the improbable par saves and, yes, some good ol’ fashioned major championship choking. If only Johnny Miller had been in the booth for that one, am I right?! But Pinehurst No. 2 was back, and no matter what you think about the place, it’s now arguably produced two of the best majors of the past quarter century. So let’s get to it … before another golf ball rolls off the green into a bunker.

WE’RE BUYING

Bryson DeChambeau the golfer: As spectacular as he played on Saturday, he chopped it around Pinehurst No. 2 for the most part on Sunday—and yet DeChambeau still claimed major No. 2. It was an amazing display of grit, capped by a Payne Stewart-like par on 18 while wearing a Payne pin on his hat.

That was one of the greatest shots in golf history. And after sinking the winning putt, he gave us one of the greatest reactions.

The skill—and variety—of DeChambeau’s short game was a somewhat surprising development, but Bryson clearly has been building to this. The 2020 U.S. Open champ finished T-6 at the Masters in April before a runner-up at the PGA last month. Heck, he’s ranked No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking based on his major performances alone.

Bryson DeChambeau the entertainer: This guy is pure entertainment, and not just because he plays an exciting brand of golf. It’s like he’s also been receiving coaching from fellow LIV golfer Phil Mickelson on how to play to the crowd. Nothing illustrated this more than late in the third round when DeChambeau, having decided to lay up on the short par-4 13th, turned to the fans and said, “Don’t boo me. I’m sorry.”

The Bryson Show isn’t just entertaining for fans, it’s an interactive experience. And how about the fact that he posted this video last month of him working in the gym on his celebrations?

That certainly came in handy this week!

Bryson the champion: Excuse me for going on and on about this guy, but his post-round activities were also pretty special. From wanting to share the trophy with as many people as possible:

To signing as many autographs and posing for as many photos as possible well into the night. And when he finally left the course after midnight, he engaged with those living in the neighborhood where he was staying.

Oh, and then there was this "drunk" drive in the dark:

Apparently he was drinking a lot more than chocolate milk out of that trophy! And an appearance on Jimmy Fallon:

Bryson "The Show" DeChambeau is the new people's champ and living it up as he should. Always a bit of an oddball and not having a family of his own yet, DeChambeau found going to LIV gave him a team of guys to hang with and lean on. And he has thrived and matured from that environment. Say what you will about his decision to bolt from the PGA Tour, but he seems to be truly happy finally—and golf fans seem to be embracing him more than ever.

WE’RE SELLING

Rory McIlroy’s collapse: On the flip side, this was tough to watch. One of the greatest golfers of all time had his drought in majors extended to a full decade and this felt like his most crushing loss yet. By far. McIlroy held a two-shot lead with five to play and he didn’t even make it to a playoff. Crazy. But major championship pressure can produce crazy results, including a first miss from inside three feet in nearly 500 attempts:

And then another miss from almost as short a few minutes later:

To be fair, that final putt was nasty, but still, Rory had one hand on this trophy and let it get away. Speaking of getting away …

Rory McIlroy’s Irish goodbye: As soon as his runner-up was official, McIlroy headed to his courtesy car and peeled out of the parking lot.

It took just 49 minutes from after Bryson made his winning putt to McIlroy's private jet being up in the air. Obviously, the guy was gutted. I get that. But if we’re being fair, everyone else in the same spot would be criticized for skipping out like that. And Rory missed a great opportunity to win over even more fans like Phil Mickelson did with the classy way he handled his U.S. Open collapse at Winged Foot in 2006. Not the biggest deal in the world, but also not a great look for a guy who is usually portrayed as the paragon of good sportsmanship.

This TV channel’s graphic placement: Brutal timing here if you were watching the final round of the U.S. Open in Northeast Ohio:

Yeah, they didn’t think that one through. At least Bryson made it pretty clear the putt went in. Again, what a showman!

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to my neck of the woods for the Travelers Championship, AKA that one Keegan Bradley won last year to lock up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Whoops, never mind. But Keegan did win. And it was an awesome scene for the New England native. Anyway, once again this will be a SIGNATURE event, although it will be without the tour’s marquee player, Rory McIlroy, who withdrew after that painful defeat to take a few weeks off. And while we disagreed with him bouncing so quickly at Pinehurst, this move makes sense. He’s had a crazy few weeks both on and off the course.

Random tournament fact: It wasn’t quite an ace, but yours truly won the 2023 Media Day closest-to-the-pin contest. Sadly, I wasn’t able to defend my title this year while recovering from knee surgery, but, again, I did make that hole-in-one at Oak Hill that put me on the SportsCenter Top 10 NBD. (Hey, give me credit for making it this long without mentioning my ace.)

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—I will ever be on SportsCenter’s Top 10 again: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Scottie Scheffler will be on SportsCenter’s Top 10 this week: Even odds

—Rory McIlroy will be working on short putting a LOT in the next month: Also a LOCK

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Amen, Max.

TWEET OF THE WEEK (DAGGER DIVISION)

There were so many of these, but this was my favorite:

Poor Rory.

TWEET OF THE WEEK (STATS DIVISION)

Just an insane stat making Bryson’s bunker shot even more amazing.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Hours after the tournament was over, Bryson and Johnson Wagner teamed up for an all-time live TV segment. Enjoy!

Just incredible stuff. Everything Bryson touches right now turns to gold. Or, silver. That’s a nice trophy.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

More Bryson showing love to the crowd! Our Maddi MacClurg even captured this cool moment with a young fan:

That’s the good stuff right there.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION ALCOHOL

Move over Jason Day, check out this wild shirt from Cameron Smith:

And he pulls it off!

THIS WEEK IN CLOSE CALLS (NON-RORY DIVISION)

How about Lexi Thompson, just a couple weeks after announcing this would be her last full season on the LPGA, coming this close to winning for the first time in more than five years with an eagle chip on the final hole:

What a story that would have been. Instead, she lost in a playoff. Tough loss, but congrats to World No. 2 Lilia Vu on win No. 1 in 2024 after winning three times last year only to being sidelined with injuries for much of this year.

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Of course, it’s a lot tougher when Nelly Korda basically wins every week.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Shout-out to Reggie Bush and Victor Cruz, two recent guests on The Loop podcast, for playing in one of the qualifier sites of the Golf Digest Open (more info on this great event here).

And here’s a fun clip of Reggie telling us about playing with Bryson—and predicting he’d win a major soon.

Great call, Reggie!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“When I turned the corner and saw I was a couple back, I said, 'Nope, I'm not going to let that happen. I have to focus on figuring out how to make this happen.' I was a little lucky. Rory didn't make a couple putts that he could have coming in. I had an amazing up-and-down on the last. I don't know what else to say. It's a dream come true.” —Bryson DeChambeau. I think you said it perfectly, Bryson.

THIS AND THAT

Bryson DeChambeau will not be one of the four players on Team USA’s men’s golf team at the Olympics this summer. That’s even more egregious than Caitlin Clark not being selected for the women’s basketball squad. … Tyrrell Hatton revealed he’s probably been fined less than 10K for outburst throughout his career. Talk about an upset! … John Daly II, AKA Little John Daly, will make his pro debut on the Korn Ferry Tour this week. They grow up so fast! … And speaking of kids, shout-out to mine for all the things they made me for Father’s Day:

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I’m a lucky guy. And not just because I have a hole-in-one now.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

How does Bryson DeChambeau not have a chocolate milk sponsor?

Who does Reggie Bush like at the British Open?

What would Johnny Miller have said on Sunday?