Nothing more to ask of this major

DeChambeau’s bunker shot at the 72nd was exquisite golf and won him his second US Open title. — AP

THEY said Bryson DeChambeau’s victory at the US Open last week was one for the ages. And, indeed, it was.

DeChambeau won the American national open for a second time, having first clinched it in 2020, and along the line left Rory McIlory to process one of the biggest chokes in world golf – ever.

DeChambeau’s up and down from a bunker on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst Golf Club’s No.2 course in North Carolina, had him pip the Northern Irishman by one stroke. The champion shot a six-under 274 total for the tournament.

What will really hurt McIlroy for a long time – professional or no professional – is that he had the lead twice on the back nine last Sunday, only for him to bogey three of the last four holes.

Mixed in that pressure cooker were two putts from inside four feet. But for many it was the miss at the 18th on Sunday, the last hole of the championship, that will wound McIlroy unlike any of his high profile previous blowouts, including his implosion in the last round of the 2011 Masters Tournaments at Augusta National Golf Club.

If the truth be told, you could hear McIlroy’s pain in the voices of the commentators of the live television broadcast on early Monday morning in Malaysia.

That was painful. And it was so bad that one gets the feeling even those who don’t think much of McIlroy and all his theatrics, particularly his relentless hounding of LIV Golf and its players, even they will have felt some pity for the man – no matter how minute.

If some of us can still feel it to this day, we can only imagine what he, and his team around him, must still be feeling.

Wisely, McIlroy said the day after his monumental meltdown that he would taking a protracted break from golf.

He said that he would return only when the circuit moves to Scotland and England next month, for the Scottish Open and British Open.

That’s the fourth and final major championship of the men’s 2024 season, and its precursor.

McIlroy’s choke at the US Open will haunt him for a long time. — APMcIlroy’s choke at the US Open will haunt him for a long time. — AP

While McIlroy endures the misery of his humbling at Pinehurst, DeChambeau has emerged a popular champion, and an LIV one at that.

DeChambeau’s connection and interaction with the fans, and his ties and the homage paid to Payne Stewart, who so famously won the 1999 US Open title at the same course, just months before he lost his life in an airplane crash, will live in the memory of many for some time.

It emerged after the tournament that DeChambeau told Matthieu Pavon, who finished in a tie for fourth after playing in the last flight with the American and one ahead of McIlroy: “Thanks for not doing it because you would have shown me the line and I think it is not fair for Rory and I do not want to win it that way.”

This was reference to DeChambeau putting ahead of the Pavon on the last hole and not having the Frenchman show him the read of the green for his winning putt.

After his victory at Pinehurst, one of the most captivating majors for some time now, DeChambeau was due to return to competitive golf at the LIV Nashville event which started on Thursday.

But before that, DeChambeau expressed his disappointment at missing out on the Paris Olympic Games that get underway next month.

Now widely, and firmly, installed as the most entertaining golfer from across the globe – the US PGA Tour included – DeChambeau’s ranking in what’s known as the Official World Golf Rankings, but nowhere near authentic as the name would have some believe, will not allow him to make the US team.

And after DeChambeau expressed his Olympic disappointment earlier this week, it again raised the voices of those strong enough to admit that the fans and the game itself are being robbed of a fair system.

One that would project who are the world’s best players – and not necessarily who are the US PGA Tour’s best players, as is the case with the present rankings.

The Americans’ influence on the International Golf Federation, the body that oversees Olympic qualification and who use the OWGR as their barometer to determine who will be at the Olympics, could not be more illuminated than by the fate of DeChambeau, who plays on the LIV Golf Tour.

One hopes that by the time the next US Open rolls around, a proper ranking system will have worked itself out and the present one changed for the better.

One for thing for sure though is that this tournament – the US Open – will probably dish out more of the same, just as it has done for ages.

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