Paul Payne: DeChambeau’s Win Breath Of Fresh Air For Pro Golf

  • Wednesday, June 19, 2024
  • Paul Payne
Bryson DeChambeau discusses his recent U.S. Open victory at The Grove, host of this week’s LIV Golf event
Bryson DeChambeau discusses his recent U.S. Open victory at The Grove, host of this week’s LIV Golf event
photo by Courtesy of LIV Golf

COLLEGE GROVE, Tenn. – The past few days have been a blur for Bryson DeChambeau since winning the U.S. Open championship in stirring fashion last Sunday, his sleep-deprived schedule chocked full of guest appearances ranging from The Today Show to Jimmy Fallon.

DeChambeau is riding a crest of success and public adoration after his gallant bunker shot on the final hole at Pinehurst No. 2 sealed his second U.S. Open title. He recognizes the opportunity – and responsibility - that comes with his newfound platform to hopefully bring about reconciliation in a sport that is bitterly divided at the professional level.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday at The Grove, site of this week’s LIV Golf tour stop outside of Nashville, DeChambeau was forthcoming about his own personal transformation since he was paid a reported $125 million to join the upstart league two years ago.

“When I was younger, I felt like I was called to do something in the game,” DeChambeau said. “I've done some things I shouldn't have done, and said some things I shouldn't have said. I’ve learned from those mistakes, learning patience, resilience, determination, continuing to grow in that capacity. I finally get to showcase my true self and show others what this great game means to me. It's given me so much. It's time for me to give back.”

DeChambeau’s jubilant celebration on Sunday was organic, parading through the gallery with the U.S. Open Trophy and signing autographs deep into the evening. He became the people’s champion, distancing himself from the self-inflicted vitriol for leaving the PGA Tour and the cocksure reputation of the past that made others long to see him humbled.

DeChambeau was light-hearted and engaging on Wednesday, owning the interview room while offering transparency about his shortcomings and the path he has taken to reconstruct his public persona.

“It’s been an emotional few days. I haven't truly cried yet, and I don't want this to be the time I cry,” DeChambeau said. “I'm humbled by all of it. I never would have thought that from a year and a half ago, things would be where they're at right now. The support has been overwhelming.”

DeChambeau had the champion’s hardware in tow with him at the press conference, estimating that “a couple of thousand” had already touched the iconic trophy.

“That's what I love most,” DeChambeau said. “That's why this was so important for everyone to touch the trophy. I wanted everybody to experience it because it wasn't just for me. It was for the turnaround, everyone looking at me going, ‘Wow, that person is different than what I thought’. It was for them, those people that saw who I now am. That's why I wanted people to feel that involvement, that appreciation from me saying ‘thank you’.”

But despite his renewed popularity and top 10 finishes in all three majors this year, the stark reality of the current divide between LIV and the PGA Tour hit home again this week when DeChambeau wasn’t among the picks for the U.S. Olympic golf team after missing the 2020 event due to a Covid diagnosis.

“I have always loved representing Team USA, whether it's been the World Team Amateur, the Walker Cup, Ryder Cup or President’s Cup,” DeChambeau said. “It's been some of the greatest moments of my life. Anytime you get a chance to represent your country, I'm all for it.

“It's disappointing, but I understand the decision I made and the way things have played out. I realize and respect the current situation of the game, albeit it's frustrating and disappointing. Hopefully 2028 will be a little different situation, and it will make it that much sweeter.”

DeChambeau’s omission is evidence that Sunday’s Hallmark-moment celebration at Pinehurst is not reflective of the golf’s ongoing civil war. Negotiations between the PGA Tour and LIV’s benefactor, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, have become curiously silent after earlier promises that an agreement was imminent.

But DeChambeau chose to offer a glimmer of hope during his post-tournament media session on Sunday when asked if last weekend could present a path to unification.

“If I’m to be quite frank, I hope we can figure things out quickly,” DeChambeau said. “I hope this can bridge the gap between a divided game. You can say what’s happened in the past, you know, ‘you were part of the reason’. Let bygones be bygones and go figure it out. Let’s figure out this amazing game that creates so much positivity back to where it belongs.”

It was a bold position for DeChambeau to take, considering his role among the early defectors from the PGA Tour. But with his popularity at at all-time high, maybe his words will resonate among the powerbrokers in charge.

DeChambeau’s transformation from a prickly, overly confident antagonist has shifted to a humble advocate for finding common ground between the rival leagues. There is something refreshingly sincere about his passion that was evidenced by the adoring throng at Pinehurst.

Let’s hope that professional golf can find a path to reconciliation, where celebrations like we witnessed at the U.S. Open will once again be the norm.

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Paul Payne can be emailed at paulpayne6249@gmail.com









Paul Payne
Paul Payne photo by
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