The Round Table: Rory lost, No. 2 was tough but fair, Bryson is a new fan favourite

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

In a hard-fought battle on what may arguably be the toughest of all U.S. Open courses, Bryson DeChambeau outdueled Rory McIlroy to win his second title. Both players had the lead on the final nine, but the difference came down to DeChambeau’s scrambling and McIlroy missing two very short putts. In your opinion, did Bryson win this or did Rory lose it?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Well, you can’t be two shots ahead with five holes to go, then make three bogies and not be accused of losing the match.  My heart breaks for Rory.  At the end of the day (Greg Norman’s favourite phrase), he’ll only be remembered for the number of majors he won, not for the ones he lost.  But with only four majors to date, and time running out for more, he won’t be accorded the elite status that perhaps he should.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: First things first…….Scottie Scheffler should not have had his hair cut right before a big tournament……remember Sampson? Bryson did what you need to do to win. He shot the lowest score. Rory had two of the worst breaks a player could have on #s 5 and 15. On #5 he hit his second shot 280 yds landing about 20 ft from the hole. The ball ran across the green and off into what was close to an unplayable lie. He proceeded to make a bogie. On #15, he hit a very fine iron in the center of the green about 10ft from the hole. It too ran away into an awful lie – bogie. The two short putts are a big-time problem for Rory. Bryson got more good breaks than Ronnie O’Sullivan in the wire grass, but he won the Jack Nicklaus Medal. Somehow, luck is always a brushstroke in the painting.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): A little bit of column A, a lot of column B.  Rory definitely blew it, missing a putt inside 3 feet for the first time all year, which just comes down to pressure.  The putt on 18 wasn’t simple but still inside 4 feet and he makes that 95% of the time.  But Bryson showed some fight and his up and down on 18 will go down as one of the best of all time in a major.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Without question, Rory lost it with an assist from his caddy. What was he doing with a seven iron in his hand on the 15th? Why, for the first time, did he hit driver on 18? He hadn’t missed a putt inside 5 feet all year until late Sunday afternoon! He posted that it was his worst day on a course in his life. That is a guy who lost it, not a guy who was beaten.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): As late as the 15th tee on Sunday, this was Rory’s to win, and he didn’t get it done. If he had stayed at 8-under and Bryson had somehow passed him, then you might argue that BDC won it. But Rory backed up and handed the championship to Bryson. An agonizing and crushing loss.

DeChambeau has had several versions of himself on display over the years from the brash, nerdy scientist to the bulked-up long driver to his current engaging exuberant self. He’s not always been popular, but this latest version seems to resonate with fans and even had them chanting his name during the final round. What do you make of Bryson’s transformation and have you become a fan?

Deeks: I certainly wasn’t a fan of the first few DeChambeaus we knew, but I must say his transformation into Mr. Nice Guy is admirable, even if it’s been sculpted by a PR consultant.  I still disdain his jump to LIV Golf, so he’ll need more than a ready smile to win me over completely.

Schurman: I was 50/50 until Bryson stopped and signed an autograph for the fan in a wheelchair. Other players reached out for a ‘hand touch’ but Bryson, in the heat of the battle, stopped and gave an unsolicited autograph. I didn’t cheer against Rory after that, but Bryson’s victory seemed more worthy.

Rule: I’ve never been a big Bryson fan, even before he went to LIV, but I have to admire his transformation, and how he is connecting with the fans.  It remains to be seen if it is just a Phil type publicity stunt with the fans and not genuine, but his feels a bit more real.  His YouTube channel is becoming more and more popular, and he seems to enjoy it, so good on him.  He took a step in the right direction for me, but don’t call me a fan just yet.

Quinn: All it took was a couple of boatloads of Saudi money to humanize him. The mouth breathers chanting USA while demonstrating their ignorance of the regime financing DeChambeau’s latest mutation are no doubt Trump voters. He deserves those fans.

Mumford: I’ve been a fan of Bryson’s ever since he started spouting scientific jargon as a rookie. Give him credit for finding something that works for him, even though it bucks convention and wasn’t always appreciated. Now it appears that he’s more comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t have to try so hard to be liked or respected. Turns out he’s a pretty likable guy.

Pinehurst No. 2 received a lot of criticism for the way it played. At times it was labelled unfair, and most players experienced bad breaks in the native areas and on the slick turtle-back greens. What was your take on the course, the way it was set-up, and would you deem it unfair?

Deeks: Yes, I would call it unfair.  Interesting, challenging, and skill-demanding for sure. But so many great shots penalized by rolloffs into purgatory just did me in… like Rory’s tee shot into 15 on Sunday… a work of art that rolled one inch too far and ended up in scrub brush.  I know, I know, everyone played the same course, but I think bad luck (and good luck on several of Bryson’s errant drives) had far more influence on the outcome than brilliant golf.

Schurman: We have dozens of methods to equalize a player’s ability from course rating to the bogey rating to the slope to the ‘you name it”. We have various formats that attempt to ‘level’ the playing field. Each one has one objective, adjust the ability of every player so they can produce a score of even par. Today’s elite players can shoot 20 under par on some courses or better. How do you contain them so par is the ‘target’ score? Simple design a course and develop the necessary playing surfaces commensurate with the skill of the players. How often does a dark horse win the US Open? Not often. Remember the ad, “These Guys Are Good”? Well, it takes this much challenge to verify that statement.  I love this kind of golf, not for me but for them.

Rule: Funny how when players miss the fairway in an Open and get a bad lie in the fescue, it’s just rub of the green and the way golf is meant to be played, but at Pinehurst, players complain.  It is a shame when they miss a fairway by a yard and end up in a footprint – that could be deemed a bit harsh, but I love how it played, and the winning score is about where it should be in a US Open.  Many holes were set up so they could play conservative off the tee and have a longer shot in from the fairway or take it on with driver and take your chances on a bad lie.  Bryson blasted the ball all over the yard and didn’t get too many bad breaks, which was perhaps the difference.  And when he did, he was able to rely on his short game to get him out of it.  I’ve always been a fan of No 2, and look forward to them returning again, and I also look forward to playing it again someday.

Quinn: It sure was a relentless challenge. But on every hole, just as there were no-go zones there were places to hit it. My golly it was tough, but on every hole someone hit the perfect shots. No hole was unfair if the player hit the correct side of the fairway and the middle of the green.

Mumford: I loved the set-up and don’t think it was remotely unfair. Sometimes I think these guys are so primed for making birdies, they forget how to dial it back and be patient. Par was a very good score in this U.S. Open, as it should be. Ironically, the poster child for bomb-and-gouge showed he had an exquisite short game too. To the players that complained the course was unfair or they got bad breaks in the wire grass rough, there’s a basic admonition, “Don’t hit it there.”

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

3 thoughts on “The Round Table: Rory lost, No. 2 was tough but fair, Bryson is a new fan favourite

  1. Watching the US Open on Pinehurst certainly won’t grow the game, it was better in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2002, when the greens were fun and the rough had grass. Lucky they have more courses.
    Luck is a big part of golf, “wire grass” shouldn’t be.
    Rory will be back, he’s got another 4 majors in him.
    DeChambles has really worked hard, too bad he used LIV money to take his PR courses. He is the modern golfer, designing himself for USGA laxity in rules. Cheers

  2. Too much luck involved with both errant and good. Did not enjoy the golf due to the randomness of shot outcomes.

    1. I’m hearing that a lot Tipp. Bad bounces and bad lies. However, it would be impossible to shoot a good score at Pinehurst No. 2 without all facets of your game in top shape. The players with the best stats made the leaderboard. It’s not always the most exciting TV product but I think it generates a worthy champion.

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