By Len Ziehm

OCALA, FL. – I can’t say I really know Bryson DeChambeau, but it certainly felt like it after he won the U.S. Open on Sunday at Pinehurst in such dramatic fashion.

DeChambeau was just a kid out of Southern Methodist University when he won the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields in 2015.  Chicago rarely gets an event of that stature, and I reported on it throughout. He followed that with two more big wins on Illinois soil.

Two years later DeChambeau, now a budding professional, won his first title on the PGA Tour at TPC Deere Run.  That tournament in downstate Silvis is well-known as an event that regularly produces first-time winners on the PGA Tour. I reported on that one, too.

Finally, last year DeChambeau won the LIV Golf League’s event at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Not only did he win the individual title, he also captained the Crushers – the team champion – and, yes, I witnessed it all.

I wasn’t on hand in North Carolina, where he outdueled Rory McIlroy in a stirring battle for the Open title but watching the drama unfold underscored for me just how much DeChambeau has developed as a golfer.

DeChambeau at LIV Golf Event – Photo Beverly Wise

At Olympia Fields he was so excited to win he wandered around the grounds with a big smile on his face anxious to have his picture taken and talk with most anyone who wanted to talk with him.

At TPC Deere Run he got emotional at the trophy ceremony, recalling that his idol Payne Stewart was also a winner of the event early in his pro career.  Stewart also attended SMU, and DeChambeau said that was a big reason why he went there.

He donned a Stewart-style cap in the JDC and again used his headware at Pinehurst to honor the late, great player who won the first U.S. Open played at the course in 1999.  That was a hard one to forget by me, too. 

Stewart held off Phil Mickelson with a dramatic putt on the final hole, a scenario with an ending much like the DeChambeau-McIlroy battle on Sunday.

And then we come to Rich Harvest Farms, site of  LIV tournaments the last two years but not this one.  It’s moving to Bolingbrook Golf Club in September.  DeChambeau had a lot more fun in his win at Rich Harvest last year, coming from eight shots back in the final round and then edging out Anirban Lahiri, one of his teammates.  They put on a show  mugging for the cameras afterwards.

That was a big weekend but didn’t compare to a LIV event at Greenbrier in West Virginia a few weeks earlier.  DeChambeau shot 61-58 on the weekend to get a victory there.

Bryson DeChambeau through the years –  hitting tee shot at U.S. Amateur in 2015, getting check at John  Deere Classic in 2017 and clowning with teammate Anirban Lahiri at LIV/Chicago last year – Photos by Joy Sarver

Though DeChambeau is a two-time Open winner – he won when no spectators were allowed in pandemic times in 2020 at New York’s Winged Foot – his life hasn’t been all fun and games.  Very much a free thinker, DeChambeau made some radical swing and equipment adjustments after beefing up to increase his distance off the tee.  Many questioned his decisions but they paid off.

He also didn’t get along with Brooks Koepka, a PGA Tour rival.  They’re very different personalities. Both jumped to the controversial LIV circuit and have won major championships since making their decisions to leave the PGA Tour. Now, after last week’s win, DeChambeau has become LIV’s most popular player.

One TV commentator labeled DeChambeau “golf’s ultimate showman’’ during the Open.  That may be a stretch, but his personality is refreshing in these days of turmoil in professional golf. He should be a big hit at the LIV tournament in Nashville this week and his budding popularity might even become a factor in getting the PGA Tour and LIV to eventually make peace.

Len Ziehm

Len has been covering golf for over 56 years. He was the golf columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for 41 years and has been in the same role for the Daily Herald and several regional newspapers since 2009… Len is also a regular contributor to the Chicago District Golfer magazine and his travel pieces are regularly published in Pro Golf Weekly, New England.Golf, eSouthernGolf and the Ohio Golf Journal. His works for all publications are available at It is in its 15th year of operation and has been enhanced by the photography provided by his partner Joy Sarver… An inductee into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 (for his reporting and youth coaching, not as a player), Len was also inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Network of Golf, is a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a member of the Golf Travel Writers of America.

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