DeChambeau brings the thunder to Valhalla even if Schauffele takes glory

<span>Bryson DeChambeau fell one stroke short of a playoff but his star quality stole the show at Valhalla.</span><span>Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images</span>
Bryson DeChambeau fell one stroke short of a playoff but his star quality stole the show at Valhalla.Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Xander Schauffele won the 106th US PGA Championship but ­Bryson DeChambeau brought the ­thunder. Four days at Valhalla served as a reminder of ­DeChambeau’s star ­quality in a sport which has been ­fractured, possibly beyond repair, by the arrival of the Saudi ­Arabian‑backed LIV tour. Some shrugged when DeChambeau departed the PGA Tour for LIV; in Kentucky, he proved he has lost none of his ability to command attention. DeChambeau fell one stroke short of a playoff after ­Schauffele nervelessly holed out from 6ft on the 72nd green.

“I felt like I had my ‘B’ game pretty much,” DeChambeau said. “My putting was A+, my wedging was A+, short game was A+, driving was like B. I shot 20 under par in a major championship. Proud of myself for the way I handled adversity. Definitely disappointing, but one that gives me a lot of momentum for the rest of the majors. I said this was closing time, but it will be closing time hopefully over the next couple of majors.”

Related: Xander Schauffele pips DeChambeau by one shot to win US PGA Championship

At the Masters DeChambeau ­finished sixth. In 2023, a tied fourth at the US PGA stood out alongside an Augusta missed cut plus lowly positions at the US and Open championships. “Equipment matters,” DeChambeau said. “I’ve learned I can play golf with my golf swing even when I’m not hitting it well. When I’m hitting it well, I have got to take advantage. I wasn’t able to do that at Augusta, my putting failed me. But then clearly I putted well here. I figured some good stuff out. Just got to remember those things and use that for the US Open. I’m excited for Pinehurst.”

So many of this major’s memorable moments involved DeChambeau rather than the champion. His reactions were often as good as his shots. DeChambeau chipped in at the 18th on Saturday, prompting scenes of euphoria. He blasted into trees on the 16th during round four, only for the ball to miraculously tumble out into the middle of the fairway. The Californian struck his next shot to tap-in range for a birdie. There was further drama on the 18th as DeChambeau’s final putt seemed to take an eternity to drop. When it did, DeChambeau had completed a box office 64. Had the tournament required extra holes, DeChambeau would have been the clear favourite to prevail.

“I really did not want to go into a playoff with Bryson,” Schauffele said. “Going up the 18th with his length, it’s not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.”

Schauffele was spared the scenario. “I gave it my all,” DeChambeau said. “I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my B game would be enough. It’s just clearly somebody else played incredibly well. Xander is well deserving of a major championship. I was emptying the tank. I certainly love to do that and give the fans everything I can.

“Sometimes I just go look myself in the face and just say: ‘You got to get it done.’ No matter what’s going on, no matter what you feel right now, you got to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots. Be better. I got to do better. And I did, I just was one shot short.”

DeChambeau is part-time golfer, part-time content creator. This is actually part of the reason many in golf’s establishment take a dim view of him. It would be more logical to criticise DeChambeau for his extra-curricular activity were he unable to compete in the biggest events. In the aftermath of Sunday at Valhalla, he was asked how he has managed to embrace being something of a showman.

“YouTube has helped me understand that a little bit more,” he said. “When the moment comes, knowing what to do, what to say, how to act is really important. When I was younger I didn’t understand what it was. I would have great celebrations and whatnot, but I didn’t know what it meant and what I was doing it necessarily for. Now I’m doing it a lot more for the fans and for the people around and trying to be a bit of an entertainer that plays good golf every once in a while.”

The pressure will be on DeChambeau at Pinehurst and when the Open sweeps into Troon in July. Exemptions earned for his victory at the US Open in 2020 are edging close to expiry. The tournaments themselves should hope DeChambeau continues to find an entry route. He remains such captivating viewing.