Bryson DeChambeau Is the King of Content

Bryson DeChambeau was magic on and off the course at a perfect U.S. Open
Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

A few months ago, before the great 180 in the court of public opinion was complete, Bryson DeChambeau said that more and more junior golfers—and even some middle-aged men—were coming up to him to thank him for all his content and what it is he does online. There was appropriate eye-rolling at the time but this is a wild world and no one knows what the future is going to hold. Because over the weekend, at a perfect golf course in a perfect U.S. Open, the mad scientist who has meticulously experimented with his body, mechanics, equipment and YouTube metrics, emerged with his second major championship and unofficial title of Greatest Showman on Bermuda.

The King of Content looked at the world and defied them to say they weren't entertained.

It took a layup from a catcher's crouch and the best damn 55-yard bunker shot a person could ever wish to see on the 72nd hole of the tournament to win it. It also took the most crushing meltdown of Rory McIlroy's career as he let the hardware slip out of his grasp by missing both edges of the cup on No. 16 and No. 18 as his major drought marches onto a second decade.

This is as good as golf gets—perhaps the sport's best four days since Tiger Woods shocked everyone with his green jacket march in 2019. And the sport has never needed it more after two years of schisms, infighting and a general lack of superstars rising to the moment. It was striking and refreshing as the McIlroy-DeChambeau duel headed toward the clubhouse that the PGA Tour-LIV dynamic hardly came to mind even though each circuit's avatars were fighting over a single trophy.

Credit goes to the NBC broadcast, which capitalized on an impeccable script and meticulous set design to rebound from last year's widely panned U.S. Open effort. The commercial load was still heavy yet improved. And just like what's happening in the game at-large, the public has become more accepting in the last two years of the sheer economics at play. NBC needs to blunt the price tag that comes with having rights to an iconic property and it does feel like they're doing the best they can in addressing concerns while remaining cognizant of their own balance sheet.

A retooled talent pool alternated coverage between odd and even holes, which kept things relatively fresh and perhaps created the feeling action was moving at a greater pace. Perhaps the greatest compliment to give Dan Hicks-Brandel Chamblee and Mike Tirico–Brad Faxon is that, like a good umpire or referee, they never got in the way. Throw in a slight reduction in the human interest pieces and narrative essays during Sunday's final round and it made for a better experience.

Everyone involved realized something special and spectacular was happening and put the brilliant canvas in frame. The pictures told disparate stories of agony and ecstasy better than thousands of words. McIlroy watching from the scoring center as the last embers of hope drained from his body when DeChambeau's clinching putt found its target said it all.

DeChambeau, however, having achieved immortality on the same green his idol Payne Stewart did 25 years ago, provided a reaction and homage for the ages. To the victors go the spoils, as does the microphone. The champion crushed it with Tirico, at times becoming emotional about his departed father and at others sounding like Bane in promising to give the trophy to The People.

If it had all ended there, if DeChambeau had hightailed it to the parking lot a la McIlroy and spun his wheels off to the afterparty, it would have been enough. Yet there was one final coda—a serendipitous and borderline unbelievable moment after sunset as the champion happened to wander into a live shot and create television magic. The type that feels like it was scripted but couldn't be.

Golf Channel's Johnson Wagner was in the same bunker where DeChambeau had sealed the deal, breaking down just how difficult the shot was during a live hit with Golf Central Live. Wagner, a skilled player in his own right, came nowhere close to Bryson's effort on his first attempt, blasting it way over the green. DeChambeau then appeared out of nowhere and ... you know what ... just watch.

What's left to say except an unironic and extremely impressed thank you. There's simply no one else that could have done this. An athlete at the top of his craft with a thorough understanding of the real and digital worlds, forcing even the cynics to crack a smile, like and subscribe.


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Kyle Koster

KYLE KOSTER

Kyle Koster is an assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated covering the intersection of sports and media. He was formerly the editor in chief of The Big Lead, where he worked from 2011 to '24. Koster also did turns at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he created the Sports Pros(e) blog, and at Woven Digital.