2024 PGA Championship proved golf is more fun when Bryson DeChambeau is in the mix

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Saturday evening, as the sun set on Valhalla Golf Club at the PGA Championship, Bryson DeChambeau did what he does best.

I’m not talking about his chip-in eagle from off the green on the par-5 18th hole. I’m talking about how he celebrated that eagle. The bulked-up bomber turned on his star power, lunged into an epic fist pump and sent the thousands of fans surrounding the green into a full-on frenzy of excitement. DeChambeau had moved into a tie for fourth place at 13 under alongside Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland, two shots behind 54-hole leaders Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.

Come Sunday, DeChambeau dazzled the crown once again with a bogey-free 7-under 64 that was sealed with another electrifying fist-pumping moment on the final hole. Playing in the group ahead, DeChambeau took the clubhouse lead and tied Schauffele at 20 under, which equaled the record-low score in relation to par at a major championship. Had you told DeChambeau before the round that he’d shoot a blemish-free 64, he would’ve thought that was enough to win. After all, it would take a historic performance to top that.

“I seriously thought 18 was going to do it,” DeChambeau admitted after the scorecards were signed. “Then when I saw what Xander was doing, it’s like, ‘Man, he’s playing some unbelievable golf.’ Viktor was right there. I mean, he was beating me for quite awhile, and I was hitting it all over the place.”

“I mean, it was an impressive, impressive round of golf by all three of us,” he added. “I don’t know what else to say. It was just difficult.”

It’s rare when DeChambeau is left speechless, so you know this one hit hard. Since he turned pro in 2016, DeChambeau has never been afraid to speak his mind, no matter the topic, for better or worse. He’s tinkered with not only his game and clubs – so much so that he’s been dubbed the Mad Scientist – but also his personality. His detractors have called him out over the years for his, at times, cringey behavior and corny antics. There’s no denying he’s a quirky guy who struggled with the early fame he received in his career. When he took his talents to LIV Golf, DeChambeau made a few comments that I’m sure he would take back if he could.

2024 PGA Championship
2024 PGA Championship

Bryson DeChambeau reacts on the ninth green during the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 19, 2024, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

But DeChambeau, now 30, appears to be living his best life. He’s matured but still has a youthful exuberance. He’s designing clubs built for his game. He’s contending in majors again. He’s having fun off the course and creating entertaining and informative content on YouTube. All of that has led to his re-emergence as one of the truly great showmen the game has to offer.

“YouTube has helped me understand that a little bit more. When the moment comes, knowing what to do, what to say, how to act is really important,” DeChambeau explained. “You know, 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.”

In the wake of his move to LIV, DeChambeau used to be booed at major championships. This week, he rode the good vibes like a wave and crowd-surfed his way back into the hearts of the fans at Valhalla. The game of golf is in desperate need of characters, and the PGA Championship was better off thanks to DeChambeau.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek