Bryson DeChambeau became the darling of the PGA Championship – is he the only man to join LIV and get MORE popular?

On the 10th tee of the final round of the PGA Championship, Bryson DeChambeau captured the hearts of the golf world. An older man reached out in front of a young child and grabbed the ball DeChambeau had thrown to him. DeChambeau immediately stopped, backed away and confronted the man.

In the middle of the tournament, he wouldn’t have been blamed for missing it, but instead it became a move that earned him plaudits as a ‘man of the people’.

Far from being the major disruptor of recent years, DeChambeau somehow completed his transformation from LIV Golf villain to PGA Championship hero in Valhalla.

DeChambeau burst onto the scene in 2016 like a freight train in flat caps. With one-length clubs, a fixation on speed and power, an obsession with number crunching and incessant bulking, DeChambeau did little to endear himself to the fans and a lot to earn himself the name Mad Scientist.

He certainly wasn’t the players’ guy either, if Brooks Koepka’s infamous 2021 eye roll is to be believed.

Bryson DeChambeau was praised as ‘man of the people’ during the PGA Championship

But 12 months removed from an icy reception in Oak Hill, DeChambeau found himself the darling of Valhalla.

Valhalla has always been a theater for the PGA. Mark Brooks won in a playoff at 18 in 1996. Tiger Woods finished a three-hole playoff at 18 and held off Cinderella man Bob May in 2000. Rory McIlroy took the 2014 PGA at number 18 in a race against darkness and storms. This year it was DeChambeau who stole the show.

He had electrified the 18th gallery and deployed an eagle to end his third round with a flourish. Unleashing a roar as he jumped into a fist pump as fans gathered in front of the sunlit clubhouse, matching his passion.

“Exciting,” DeChambeau said of the moment after the round. “I haven’t felt like this in a long time.”

24 hours later he performed an encore. As he and Viktor Hovland traded birdie shots to pile on the pressure on Xander Schauffele, DeChambeau paraded through Valhalla with the panache of a showman as the crowd chanted, “Bryson, Bryson, Bryson.”

On the leg of the 18th green he took his final bow. Although he failed to replicate his Eagle chip-in from the third round, DeChambeau’s birdie putt floated over the rim of the cup before finally trickling in to equal Schauffele’s lead.

He threw his arms in the air as if he were going to dive after his ball before shouting to the raucous crowd with a final fist bump, “Let’s go.”

The stage of a major championship requires a show, and DeChambeau is an entertainer — something the PGA Tour and its $20 million events sorely lack.

The 30-year-old joined the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit in 2022

The 30-year-old joined the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit in 2022

DeChambeau headed out to the course where, as he fired off practice shots, the big screen showed at the edge of his eyeline that Schauffele was standing over a birdie putt of his own on 18.

For 20 minutes, DeChambeau had enjoyed a piece of history with the lowest score at a major championship. For twenty minutes he had held the Wanamaker Trophy halfway in his hands. Until Schauffele snatched it all away with a putt and took the win.

DeChambeau, who had stopped practicing his practice shots to watch the winning putt fall in, put away his club and immediately headed to the 18th green where he was among the first to congratulate his rival on a big victory that was almost his .

“Proud of Xander for finally getting the job done,” DeChambeau said later. “I mean, he’s a great golfer now and a well-deserved major champion.”

Long after Schauffele hoisted the Wanamaker, instead of slipping into the shadows, DeChambeau was still signing autographs in the clubhouse parking lot.

It was a painful defeat, but one he accepted with poise and grace. It was also one that endeared him to the masses. He may not have left with a second big win, but he did leave with a new level of popularity. Captain of the Crushers, the fan favorite – who saw that coming?

Somehow, DeChambeau took $100 million from the Saudis, only to become infinitely more popular with PGA Tour fans. Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship last year, but neither he nor his fellow Rebels Cam Smith and Phil Mickelson moved the needle like DeChambeau did last week.

Still, fans whose heads haven’t been turned by the “golf but louder” agenda of the LIV Golf broadcast will be unfamiliar with the new DeChambeau.

Somehow DeChambeau took $100 million from the Saudis and then became more popular

Somehow DeChambeau took $100 million from the Saudis and then became more popular

DeChambeau 2.0 is a part-time LIV Golfer, part-time YouTuber – a brand he is aware of and directs to his off-course activities.

“When the time comes, it’s very important to know what to do, what to say and how to act,” DeChambeau said.

‘When I was younger I didn’t understand what it was. Yeah, I would have great parties and all that, but I didn’t know what it meant and what I was necessarily doing it for. Now I do it much more for the fans and for the people around me and I try to be a bit of an entertainer who plays good golf every now and then.’

He has 613,000 subscribers on YouTube, which provides a platform to see DeChambeau’s light-hearted side through his Break 50 series featuring golf glamor girl Paige Spiranac and challenge videos like trick shots and rounds with Walmart clubs.

And along with a million followers on Instagram, he has also attracted a new group of golf fans.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. It’s an old cliché, but one that held true in Valhalla. His former high-profile appeal is undoubtedly why LIV Golf wanted him, but while DeChambeau got a payday, he and his Mad Scientist persona are locked behind a paywall.

Since his defection to LIV Golf, fans only get to see DeChambeau four times a year, but those who tuned in in Louisville or watched from outside the ropes saw a mature, entertaining, freer and more confident DeChambeau.

During his LIV exile, amid golf’s civil war, DeChambeau has not only become a fan favorite but also grown closer to his peers.

The American started creating YouTube content with Paige Spiranac, among others

The American started creating YouTube content with Paige Spiranac, among others

For the socially awkward DeChambeau, LIV provided a fresh start. No one enjoyed the team spirit more than the Crushers captain who gifted his team of Paul Casey, Charles Howell III and Anirban Lahiri with matching Rolex watches. noted Alan Shipnuck.

“He thrives on the social environment around him, which may not come naturally to him,” Lahiri said in Shipnuck’s book LIV and Let Die.

‘But in this case it is not a matter of choice. The social element is very good for him. He enjoys the company, he enjoys the hang.’

DeChambeau no longer lives on his Golf Machine island. He’s really assimilated and involved in the game.

When he left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf in June 2022, he was still following his 3,500-calorie diet of meat, potatoes and protein shakes in an effort to grow and improve his game.

The efforts were successful: the American reached 17th place and had the largest average driving distance in the 2019-2020 season with 322.1 meters.

DeChambeau with his Crushers teammates, Charles Howell III, Anirban Lahiri and Paul Casey

DeChambeau with his Crushers teammates, Charles Howell III, Anirban Lahiri and Paul Casey

But they also made him sick. Doctors warned that his regimen was taking years off his life. It was a wake-up call that resulted in a weight loss of 18 pounds in 24 days.

Even without the added muscle, DeChambeau’s play last week still resembled the excellent long drives and putting of his only major win at Winged Foot. DeChambeau has also shown maturity with a newfound respect that hallowed courses like Augusta and Valhalla deserve.

With his constant experimentation, obsessive fixation on number crunching, one-length clubs and bold claims, DeChambeau’s antics are often the focus of attention, but he is still a character that golf needs.

A happier and healthier DeChambeau has entered the second act of his career and the box office. If he was competing for a major, watch TV.