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DeChambeau Exits the Spotlight Back to LIV. When Will Golf End Its Big Divide?
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
June 18, 2024

Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP/Frank Franklin II)

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PINEHURST — Bryson DeChambeau acted as though he didn’t want this U.S. Open to end.

The Clovis East High School alum watched his name being engraved on the silver trophy for the second time. He filled it with grains of sand from the bunker where he produced the most memorable shot on the 72nd hole of a U.S. Open since Tiger Woods made his putt at Torrey Pines to force a playoff.

And then he tried to share it with thousands of fans whom he entertained over four days at Pinehurst No. 2, wanting them to touch it and try to experience the joy he felt. Deep into the North Carolina night, he was still signing autographs.

The entertainment never stopped. He made a cameo when Johnson Wagner of Golf Channel was trying to replicate the shot, with DeChambeau doing the commentary and then letting Wagner hoist the trophy after hitting it close.

And now he takes his talents to Tennessee for the LIV Golf event that can be seen this weekend on The CW Network.

DeChambeau’s Future Golf Plans

The last big stage of the year for him is next month at Royal Troon for the British Open. A week after that, four Americans will be going to Le Golf National outside Paris for the Olympics. DeChambeau will not be one of them.

Even in the shine of a magnificent victory, DeChambeau winning the U.S. Open for the second time was a reminder of the great divide in golf and how little the best players compete against each other.

“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.”

Brooks Koepka was the first LIV Golf player to win a major at the PGA Championship last year, and along with his runner-up finish at the Masters, it was enough for him to be a logical choice as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.

The PGA Tour, which has suspended anyone defecting to LIV, does not operate the Ryder Cup. It does own the Presidents Cup, and DeChambeau won’t be at Royal Montreal, either.

“All I want to do is entertain and do my best for the game of golf, execute and provide some awesome entertainment for the fans. From at least what I can tell, that’s what the fans want, and they deserve that,” DeChambeau said without a hint of animosity in his voice.

“You can say what’s happened in the past, ‘You were part of the reason,’ ” he said.

DeChambeau’s Impact on Golf

That gets overlooked at times, and Scottie Scheffler mentioned as much in March when he said the splintering in golf came from the player who took the Saudi money to join LIV.

DeChambeau was among the first, and his name was on the antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour that was dismissed last year when the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia — which pays for LIV — agreed to try to strike a commercial deal.

Those negotiations are ongoing, though there is no indication LIV is going away. One of the biggest hurdles is how to reunite players who took the Saudi money with those who didn’t. And that assumes LIV players even want to come back.

There is less friction two years after LIV launched. But there are reminders, such as now, that who’s here today will be gone for a month, and then for the rest of the year.

“Let bygones be bygones and go figure it out,” DeChambeau said. “Let’s figure out this amazing game that creates so much positivity back to where it belongs.”

DeChambeau has been a beast in the majors — a tie for sixth at the Masters, runner-up by one shot to Xander Schauffele in the PGA Championship, an emotional win over the putter-challenged Rory McIlroy in the U.S. Open. DeChambeau and Schauffele are the only players with top 10s in all three majors.

The four Americans from the top 15 in the world who qualified for the Olympics are Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, and Collin Morikawa.

The Olympics uses the Official World Golf Ranking to determine the 60-man field, and the OWGR does not recognize LIV Golf because of its closed shop (the same 54 players all year competing over 54 holes) and its simultaneous team play.

The OWGR has not figured out how to measure such a league with two dozen open tours around the world, and LIV hasn’t offered a solution on its end.

Leveraging YouTube to Grown His Brand

This was DeChambeau’s choice when he joined LIV in 2022. He has played only one tournament outside the majors and LIV events since then — the Saudi International — while compiling five top 10s in the nine majors he has played.

And so it’s on to Nashville, to London, to the British Open and to Spain, all available on The CW, none with the energy that majors or even signature events like the Memorial and Bay Hill provide.

Beyond whatever LIV events he plays, DeChambeau has been connecting with overwhelming success through his YouTube channel.

“It keeps me in that mind frame of I’m an entertainer,” he said. “Leveraging and allowing me to utilize that platform has opened up a whole new aspect to professional golf where I think it’s been a little underutilized. There can be some positive growth in the game of golf with those interactions. It makes for some cool moments.”

The entire U.S. Open felt like a YouTube moment for him. And now he has a few stops before bringing the show to Scotland at Royal Troon when golf feels whole again.

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