The real Bryson DeChambeau emerged after the U.S. Open cameras went off

bryson dechambeau screams in exhaltation at the u.s. open in striped shirt

Bryson DeChambeau won his second U.S. Open in dramatic fashion on Sunday.

Darren Riehl for GOLF

PINEHURST, N.C. — Bryson DeChambeau returned to the real world with a deep breath.

It was close to an hour after the moment of his life, and the energy around him had only amplified. A TV interview. Two TV interviews. A lengthy trophy celebration. A lap around the few thousand fans still in attendance. A press conference. And then, for the first time, silence.

He paused for just a second as the crowd filled in around him, beginning the walk up the ramp away from the Pinehurst driving range to the afterparty, a grin across his suddenly lovable face. The reality washed over him.

He’d done it. He’d delivered the shot of his life, drained the winning putt and etched his way deeper into golf history. He’d enchanted the crowds and the golf gods and this roundhouse kick of a golf course, and he’d won the U.S. Open for the second time. Good god it was sweet.

bryson dechambeau screams at the u.s. open
Bryson DeChambeau exalts on the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2. Darren Riehl for GOLF

Who is Bryson DeChambeau really? It’s a challenging question.

If you’d like to see the best in a pro golfer, victory is a tremendous judge of mettle. If you’d like to see the truth about someone … not so much. A professional golfer’s behavior in the wake of a win is about as revealing as the rest of us in the wake of a root canal. Add a television camera or a microphone, and you’ll see your already-good odds of best behavior go to 100 percent. If a hero is what you want, a hero is what you’ll get.

To see Bryson DeChambeau on Sunday evening at Pinehurst No. 2 was to see a hero. It was to see the version of him that is thoughtful and charming and unusually generous with his time. The version who cares deeply about being a force for good. If you wanted to see the best in him, you saw it with your own eyes, somewhere between the tearful victory speech and trophy crowdsurfing session.

But suppose you weren’t looking for a hero. Suppose you were looking to see a real human being, a person with flaws and struggles. Suppose you were worried the player before you wasn’t actually who he said he was, or worse, exactly the person he said he was and nothing more. If you were looking for a real judge of character, you could learn a lot in the quiet moments on Sunday evening.

Part of the issue with Bryson DeChambeau is that his quiet moments can be hard to find. He acts like he knows he’s being watched, wearing the performative streak of an influencer and the blustery self-image of a bad Hinge date. He waves hello to everyone. He signs autographs by the hundred and offers high-fives by the thousand. He talks at length about the art of a proper fist pump and the nuances of the YouTube algorithm. He’s like Jim Carrey’s character on The Truman Show — someone who has been given ample reason to believe he is the main character of a movie starring him.

But if you were looking hard enough at Bryson during the U.S. Open, you saw the real version of him, too. Those moments arrived on the 15th fairway during Wednesday’s practice round, when Bryson shouted to a gallery of no one at a missed iron shot, his competitive fury boiling over in a moment that meant nothing. Or in the aftermath of Saturday’s round, in the blazing heat, when Bryson limped his way to the practice range for a few more driver blasts into the ether, his determination bordering on delusion. Or on Sunday morning, 16 minutes before his tee time in the final group at the U.S. Open, when he was spotted cycling through four driver heads and furiously trying to rid himself of a right miss, his gear obsession threatening to cost him a major championship. (“Consequently I missed it right all day,” he quipped later.) Or on the 18th green on Sunday, with the entire world watching and a four-foot putt for golfing immortality before him, when he furiously shushed a crowd booing a fellow patron who had yelled, “MISS IT BRYSON!!!” Or later on Sunday evening, when a deep breath brought the realization that the wildest of his golfing dreams had just come true.

If you have watched DeChambeau throughout his career, you probably felt a hint of trepidation at this version of him. After a soul-crushing second-place finish at Valhalla, Bryson was once again the toast of the golf world — the subject of every kid’s autograph dreams and the apple of every overserved fraternity brother’s eye. Surely the Bryson of today wasn’t all that different from the Incredible Bulk of yesterday — the guy who fought petulant battles and stepped on every conceivable rake and viewed social media as a personal invitation for self-flagellation.

But if you’ve watched DeChambeau throughout his career, you probably also felt a hint of intrigue. Bryson was never a bad guy in his 20s. He was immature. He was the wrong guy to have so much fame at a young age. But he desperately wanted to be liked and appreciated and remembered. He was a maverick in the truest sense of the word, and as with many mavericks before him, he didn’t mix well with the rest of the crowd.

Your cynicism was justified. Most golfers — and most people — don’t change in good ways when gifted with material wealth. And wasn’t it possible that Bryson was exactly the same person as before, just hidden in the sheath of irrelevance that has followed most players who’ve dipped their toes into the pool of Saudi oil money?

It was possible, but wasn’t it nice to believe that Bryson could change?

Change was necessary in early 2022, when Bryson’s celebrity (and acrimony) was at its height. He was despised by crowds at most major tournaments and cast off by fellow players. His starts were lonely at best and controversial at worst — and they were often controversial. LIV offered a massive check, which was interesting, but also freedom from a doom cycle in the public eye that hadn’t brought him much success. The chance to start anew, where he could truly be a maverick, was eye-opening — as was the freedom to fully lean into his creative pursuits on YouTube. The downside was that his decision would prove many people right for calling him misguided and self-interested. He made the jump anyway and largely fell off the face of the earth.

In November 2022, DeChambeau’s life changed again. His dad, Jon, died from the complications of kidney failure. The loss hit Bryson particularly hard, according to a few members of his team, and the months after brought him into a new headspace with the sport.

“They say every five years somebody’s life changes and it couldn’t be more true,” he said in his opening presser at Pinehurst on Tuesday. “I’m a completely different person than I was back at Winged Foot. There’s remnants. I’ve still got a lot of the same cells, but I’m definitely different in the brain, for sure.”

The answer was quintessential Bryson. “Completely different” in one breath, referencing his cellular composition in the next. But it was informative, too. The idea that Bryson had revolutionized himself as a person was dubious, but the suggestion that he’d changed in ways that mattered was not.

One of the biggest changes was standing just feet away from Bryson as he spoke: human Xanax/caddie Greg Bodine, who Bryson welcomed onto the bag last year — a shift away from the “type A” caddies of the past with whom he has often feuded.

“He gave me a chance,” Bryson said Sunday. “I said, I don’t know what I’m going to give you. I don’t know what game I have. You may hate what I have, and I might not like the way you caddie.”

On Sunday afternoon with the U.S. Open on the line, the relationship delivered Bryson the biggest moment of the championship.

“We were standing in the bunker on 18 and I said, ‘You got this shot. I’ve seen you do this a million times,'” Bodine told afterward. “Because I have.”

When Bryson splashed his approach to four feet, giving him the chance to win the tournament, Bodine was the first to offer a read.

“I think I said right-center,” he said, a smile spreading across his face. “But it was straight in.”

Bodine is Bryson’s counter in all the ways that matter, and as with so many highly successful player-caddie relationships, the bond goes well beyond yardages and green slopes.

“He’s been a special human being for me in my life, getting me to realize what life is about. It’s not just all about golf,” DeChambeau said. “He works hard. He’s a diligent worker. Brings the best out of me.”

Bodine had a different read.

“I’m basically the anti-Bryson,” he said.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s victory, Bodine proved it, sharing a smile and keeping a safe distance from his boss. He was a major champion, too, but he seemed uninterested in the attention that comes with caddying for the U.S. Open champ. As the cameras watched Bryson invite the entire crowd to his afterparty, Bodine stood by and watched — proud of the accomplishment and his friend.

The moment meant nothing, but it said everything. Bryson, the affable, over-intense crowd-pleaser, and Greg, the mellow gamer on the bag. Would the Bryson of 2020 throw a party like this one? Yep. Would Bodine have been there? Not a chance.

“I mean, I was knocked pretty hard down in 2022 for numerous reasons, numerous scenarios, numerous things,” DeChambeau said Sunday. “I had some great friends and great people around me tell me, Keep going, keep pushing. I dug myself out of a pretty deep hole.”

And now Bryson stands on top of the golf world again, at the prime of his powers and in the good graces of fans everywhere. His career’s arc is complete, for the moment at least, with a victory in one of the most memorable U.S. Opens in history.

But the questions surrounding him are not. Is Bryson the irredeemable goof we fear or the hero we so desire? He is unquestionably golf’s greatest showman, but is the performance an act to hide the public from his real self … or is it just his real self?

“No, that’s my passion,” he said Sunday. “From my perspective, I’m just passionate. I really care about doing well out here and showing the fans a side of me that was locked up for so long.”

That side of DeChambeau could be seen in clear view through the darkness on U.S. Open Sunday evening — but as the clock struck 9 p.m., it didn’t seem to be showing anything good.

As DeChambeau basked in the glory of his career’s greatest achievement, his golf cart took a sharp left to the side of the practice range and veered away from the golf course, apparently toward the parking lot and away from the last vestiges of screaming fans.

The cameras were off now, and Bryson had made his decision.

“Mr. DeChambeau won’t be signing for you tonight,” a security guard told the crowd. “He had somewhere else to be.”

The few hundred assembled let out a disappointed sigh, and many began to work their way to the exits. But then, just seconds later, the cart returned into view in a hurry, screeching to a halt right in the center of Pinehurst’s baked-out putting green.

DeChambeau stepped off the cart and took another deep breath. His team was nearby, working on securing a private jet to New York for the beginning of a worldwide media tour likely to span the next several days. Bodine had long since disappeared into the night. There was nothing left to prove, and an afterparty still to attend.

But now, in the near-pitch-black, Bryson looked at his happiest.

He peered at the last of his screaming fans and smiled. It was time to finish the job.

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Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau walks off the 18th hole at the U.S. Open. Darren Riehl for GOLF

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at

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