US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau relives his Pinehurst experience and explains how he battled back from hand surgery in 2022 to become one of the game’s best players and fan favourite

After the disappointment of finishing second at the PGA, how does it feel to go one better at the very next major and capture your second US Open title?
Oh man, I did not want to finish second again. The PGA loss really stung. Xander [Schauffele] played magnificently, but I wanted to get this one done, especially at such a special place as Pinehurst, that means so much to me, and my dad, and what Payne Stewart meant to him, and it being the 1,000th USGA championship.
The bunker shot on 18 was the shot of my life. I’ll forever be thankful that I’ve got longer wedges so I can hit it farther and was able to get it up there next to the hole. I’m not sure if I would have been able to do with a standard set up.
I was a little lucky. Rory [McIlroy] missed a couple of short putts that he could have made coming in, and I had an amazing up-and-down on the last. I don’t know what else to say. It’s a dream come true.

Can you describe your emotions over the last four holes?
All I was focused on was myself. Every once in a while I could hear “Rory, Rory” chants, for what he was doing, so I knew what he did based on the roars. That was actually kind of fun because it gave me the knowledge of what I had to do. Every time I got over the ball, Just focus. You’ve done this before. You can do it again. In the back of my mind, my dad was pushing me. Payne was in the back of my mind, as well. I wanted to do it for them.

You’ve interacted with the fans over the last four days more than anyone else we’ve seen in a major championship before. Do you think we need more players like you in professional golf?
I hope so. I mean, my mission is to continue to grow the game globally and domestically. YouTube has really helped me accomplish some of that, but you also have to interact and engage with fans in person, and I’m just able to play off of that. Those fans out there really helped push me out there. Even when stuff wasn’t going well, they inspired me to keep going and to get the job done and I’m thankful to them.

Given that it came a two-horse race at the end, how aware were you of what was Rory doing ahead of you?
Yeah, I had to know what I had to get done, especially when I hit that iron shot on 17. I was trying to birdie that hole. I was going to try and birdie 18, obviously, if I hit a good drive, but I pulled it. But I knew where Rory was.
After my tee shot, I was up there going, Man, if he makes par, I don’t know how I’m going to beat him. I just really didn’t know. Then I heard the moans. Like a shot of adrenaline got in me. I said, ‘Okay, you can do this’.
I was listening the entire time. Even on 13, when they were chanting “Rory” after he made birdie, I knew I had to drive the green. I knew I had to make birdie on that hole.
My driving wasn’t fantastic today. I’ve got to go fix that, but I played some good golf even with the chanting. There was a lot of, “Go USA,” “Go Europe.” It was quite a fun battle between us today.

I know you didn’t see his round, but can you empathize with what Rory is feeling right now?
Yeah, Rory is one of the best to ever play this game. Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. For him to miss that putt, I’d never wish it on anybody. It just happened to play out that way.
He’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt. I think that fire in him is going to continue to grow. I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf because, to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, he was two ahead, I was like, Uh-oh, uh-oh. But luckily things went my way today.

Pinehurst proved something of an unsolvable puzzle to many of the field this week. How did you figure it out?
When I was a kid, I used to throw golf balls in the worst lies outside of the fairway and just learned to hit out of the worst situations to see what I could do. That sparked a lot of my creativity. But then I’d go back and work on the mechanics really hard.
I had this unique childhood experience in golf of working on really quirky, weird things, then also working super hard on the mechanics, trying to be as machinelike as possible. I feel like that really helped with deal with certain situations out there where I have no control over what’s going to happen. You just have to figure it out and get it done. That creativity gets sparked.
When the greens are not perfectly flat, they’re not glass, there’s some little bumps and whatnot, being imaginative, seeing how the ball is going to curve over the edge, really getting into it in your mind is what I focus on. So there a bit of creativity in me, even though I try to be mechanical.

It doesn’t feel like too much hyperbole to say that this has been one of the great US Opens. Does it feel that way to you?
Wow. That’s not for me to say, but I’m thankful that I was a part of it. Thankful that I accomplished something I’ve always wanted to accomplish as a kid. Gratitude and thanks.

Were there any things that you did, whether it be from an equipment side or strategy side, to prepare for Pinehurst?
Funnily enough, nothing! I pretty much had the same equipment that I’ve been using for ages, although I did put in an old Crank 3-wood that works fantastic for me. It helped me hit it on the green in 13 and a couple other places. I didn’t change much, to be honest. I’ve got a high ball flight, and I use it to my advantage when I can.

Can you explain what happened with your driver on the practice range, and what affect having to fit a new head had on your driving today?
I probably shouldn’t have changed the heads. I was trying to get a fresh head in there. It had a good curvature on the face, but it was a little bit lower loft. For whatever reason, those lower lofted heads have been missing right. Consequently, I missed it right all day. A bit frustrating, but the face that I was using for the past three days was just starting to get flat. It was a nine-and-a-half-inch curvature. I won’t go over that. Essentially the face was starting to get a little flat. I wanted to get a fresh head in. I was driving it well on the range. On the golf course nerves got to me a little bit. I wasn’t as comfortable with it. Probably needed to work it in more, more than just hitting five balls with it.

Earlier this week you mentioned that since your dad died in 2022, you feel like you’ve grown a lot as a person. How specifically do you feel like you’ve changed?
I would say first and foremost I respect and understand people’s opinions. I mean, I was knocked pretty hard in 2022 for numerous reasons. I had some great friends and great people around me tell me to keep pushing, so I dug myself out of a deep hole. My golf swing wasn’t going well, my ball striking was terrible, and my putting wasn’t great. I had my Crushers teammates – Paul Casey, Anirban Lahiri and Charles Howell – continuing to push me in the right direction. That was actually a massive help to help get me in the right mind frame from such a low point in my life.
People said continuously, ‘Dude, you’re good. Don’t worry about it. You’ve got a lot of great life to live. There’s a lot more to life than golf.’
So I’ve realized that there’s a lot more to life than just golf. Treating others, yourself first and foremost, respecting yourself, is super important to being able to treat others with respect, as well.
I know I’m not perfect. I’m human. Everyone’s human. Certainly, those low moments have helped establish a new mindset of who I am, what’s expected, what I can do and what I want to do in my life.

How would you respond to people who would say that your demonstrative responses and celebrations out there are an act?
From my perspective, I’m just passionate. I really care about doing well out here and showing the fans a side of me that was locked up for so long.
I mean, Tiger was and is an idol of mine, the way he reacted on the golf course. Payne, the way he did. Numerous others that have inspired generations that are now here have allowed that to be unique and cool.

Given the current divide in the game, do you think this win is going to be a transformative for you, your popularity, maybe the way golf will move forward now?
If I’m to be frank, I hope we can figure things out quickly. I hope this can bridge the gap between a divided game. All I want to do is entertain and do my best for the game of golf 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.
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.

After winning the US Open in 2020, your game took a dip, you struggled for that time early on LIV. What was the low point and what was the turning point?
The low point was after the 2022 Masters. I broke my hand and had to have surgery on it. I thought there was a chance I would be able competitive golf again, but I didn’t know how it would affect my speed, my grip and things like that. So going into surgery was probably the lowest point, then waiting eight weeks, not knowing if I was going to be able to grip a club with the same effort and feel the same and all that, and then struggling with my game. That whole five-month period was rough. There were some definite low moments and it made me rethink a lot of things in my life.
Where it turned the corner was a week before Greenbrier last year. I put a driver in play and a shaft combination with LA Golf – Crank head, iron shafts I’ve used for a long time. That whole combination setup just flipped the switch in me. I went and shot 61 and 58 on the weekend. I’m like, Okay, Bryson’s back again. How do I turn this into major championship golf now? So right around that time frame is when things switched. Since then I’ve focused a lot of my energy on how to get another major title.

A lot of players have won one major and are never sighted again, so what does it mean to you to be a multiple major champion?
What it means? I haven’t been able to let it sink in yet. Ask me in a few weeks, and I’ll let you know, but right now it feels pretty darn good.