Bryson, Rory and 1 inspirational email: 50 observations from the U.S. Open

Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau on Sunday after his U.S. Open win at Pinehurst.

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INSIDE THE ROAST OFFICE, PINEHURST, N.C. — I guessed that I was late. I was frustrated. 

But apparently, Rory McIlroy was more so. And he’d called it a day a little early.

On my end, shortly after the U.S. Open’s final round, shortly after McIlroy missed a 4-footer for par on the 18th hole, and Bryson DeChambeau made a 4-footer to win, I was a bit far from the post-round media scrum. There were a few questions to ask of McIlroy, of course. Maybe you were thinking about them, too. On the NBC broadcast, analyst Brad Faxon — also McIlroy’s putting coach — had noted that before a costly short miss on 16, McIlroy had stood over his ball longer than he had any other putt on Sunday. What happened there? How would he move on? Do things remain status quo after this gut punch, the latest in a few? Or would he consider shaking things up?

I jogged over, though mid-90s temps and a weeklong diet of grease aren’t a fit for such a thing. When I stopped, McIlroy was marching to his car with a bag. Some folks were following him. Caddie Harry Diamond then dropped his bag in the trunk, the doors closed — and McIlroy peeled away, the car’s tires slightly squeaking. 

Did I miss his interview? I asked around. Actually, I saw everything. 

McIlroy was gone. Not too long after, he was on a jet back to his home in Florida. 

He shoulda talked. I understand the moment and the frustration. And he probably wouldn’t say much of anything anyway. In that regard, I’m often surprised when there’s frustration that our athletes aren’t citing Shakespeare in these proceedings. But it’s part of the gig. He knows that.

That said, maybe a better response will come later, after some reflection. Late Monday afternoon, in announcing that he was withdrawing from this week’s Travelers Championship, he called Sunday one of the toughest days of his career. 

As we look back at the U.S. Open week that was, we’ll make that observation No. 1 then. Let’s try for 49 more as we post up at the perfectly named Roast Office, a post office converted into a coffee shop (and book store). Various folks with golf-logo polos have been wandering in, and they’re no doubt reflecting too.

2. Let’s pause on McIlroy for a second. Let’s talk about the winner.  

DeChambeau appears to have things engineered to make a run. Distance. A calming caddie. Gear tweaks. He’s an explorer. I appreciate that. He’s looked into every nook and cranny and golf bag to find that extra yard, which as noted above, was about the distance McIlroy missed putts from late Sunday, and DeChambeau made from on 18 (though, yes, he whiffed on a shorty on 15). 

3. Where do you hit a 50-yard bunker shot with a chance to win the U.S. Open?

Off the face of the bunker?

Off the Pinehurst clubhouse in the distance?

DeChambeau’s winner is an all-timer. 

4. Johnson Wagner’s shot wasn’t too bad, either. 

5. DeChambeau the entertainer was another story with the winner. Good on him for embracing it. I won’t forget seeing him sign any and everything. I won’t forget seeing him let any and everyone put a hand on the Open trophy. Even some of the security guards got a touch. 

6. What’s different from the man who’d once been vilified not too long ago? Here’s saying via a healthy online presence, he’s found the right audience. It’s a younger crowd. They eat up the big shots. The big laughs. That he gives you more than a window into his day-to-day — you get his whole house. 

7. Still, he’s cheesy. But at least he’s consistent. It wears on you. 

8. I liked this exchange, started by GOLF’s James Colgan, in DeChambeau’s winner’s press conference:

“How would you respond to people who would say that your sort of demonstrative responses and celebrations out there are an act or a schtick?” 

“No, that’s my passion,” DeChambeau said. “I mean, Tiger [Woods] was an idol of mine, is an idol of mine. He’s my hero still, the way he reacted on the golf course. Payne [Stewart], the way he did. Numerous others that have inspired generations that are now here have allowed that to be unique and cool. 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.”

9. It’s OK to feel uneasy about him, though. 

DeChambeau is playing his golf for LIV, which is backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, whose human-rights record is atrocious. 

10. On that note, longtime golf reporter Alan Shipnuck shared on social media that he heard that there was a “draft agreement” signed between the PGA Tour and the PIF. 

It’s OK to feel uneasy about that, too. 

Bryson DeChambeau on the 18th green U.S. Open Sunday.
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11. Let’s stick with the winner theme. Before this week, I’d never gotten down to Pinehurst. (I’ve been with the GOLF gang for just about four years only.) My mistake. Golf is the game here. Lots of pine-tree items, too. 

12. There’s even a golf writer-themed bar here, close by to the Roast Office. It’s called the Drum and Quill. On Saturday night, someone had even locked themselves inside one of the bathrooms, which sounds about right for a bar themed for golf writers. 

13. Speaking of booze, Monday night’s plan features a visit to the Pinehurst Brewing Company. Fans (fan?) of this space know that this has been anticipated.

14. More winners! How about Matthieu Pavon? Notably, a member of his team was sitting outside the Roast Office when I walked in. 

On Thursday, I saw Pavon eating a tee

On Saturday, I asked him about his “pair.” Not sure I’ve ever had an exchange like this before. 

“Michael Lorenzo-Vera told me in describing your game — his quote — you play with a big pair. Is that how you would describe your game?” 

“No, the thing is I don’t know if it’s that I have a big pair,” Pavon said. “It’s just that I have — I’m not scared about taking the shots. I’ve never been scared about taking the shots. That’s the thing; that’s why I think we are a great team with my caddie because Woody [Mark Sherwood] is really holding me. I think if I was playing probably alone this week, I would have missed the cut by a lot of shots. But we have a game plan; some holes we just play short of the green and give it a chance with like an uphill-type of shot. 

“If I have to take one shot tomorrow to try to win the tournament, you can be sure that I’ll try to take it.”

Pavon has flair. 

15. Sticking with the question-answering theme, I wanted to ask DeChambeau why he putted before Pavon on Sunday on the 18th hole, but sadly, I didn’t get my question in. Oh well. Was interesting, though. 

Rory mcilroy leaving the Pinehurst clubhouse after us open on sunday
Inside the tense moments after Rory McIlroy’s calamitous U.S. Open defeat
By: Alan Bastable

16. Jim Mackay was a winner. Welcome back to TV, “Bones.” He was also proud of his pre-tournament sleeper pick. He tapped me on the shoulder on Saturday on the range to let me know that Corey Conners had just made eagle. 

17. Bones also said Xander Schauffele will win majors, plural. I agree. 

18. Ludvig Aberg will also win majors, plural.    

19. For someone who eventually tied for third, Patrick Cantlay played in relative anonymity on Sunday, it seemed. 

20. I’m sticking with the observation I made after the Masters and the PGA — I think your Open Championship winner is Brooks Koepka

21. I enjoyed this story on Koepka from Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch. Or put more accurately, I liked his text exchange with him. 

22. Or Collin Morikawa might win the Open. A big victory is coming. 

23. Or McIlroy might win. 

24. I liked his description of what was making Pinehurst so difficult, after a reporter asked on Friday how the course was playing in comparison to a regular tour stop:

“Yeah, it just requires a lot more thought. Even though I hit a great drive up the 8th hole, I had 151 adjusted to the hole. I’m trying to land it 146. I can’t land it 144 because it’s not going to get up there. I can’t land it 148 because it’s going to go over the back of the green. You just need to have a lot of precision. I feel like for the most part I’ve done that well this week. I’ve got the ball pin-high quite a lot, which is really important. I’m not trying to land the ball pin-high. You’re trying to hit it to a number with a wedge, maybe five short of that, and then with a mid-iron, you’re trying to land it 30 feet short of the pin to try to get it pin-high. Just a little more thought, a little more consideration to everything that you’re doing. Very conservative strategy off the tee. And because most of us are playing conservative off the tee, with irons, you can aim down one side of the fairway or the other to try to give yourself better angles to these pins.”

25. Rose Zhang wins major No. 1 this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA. 

bryson dechambeau screams in exhaltation at the u.s. open in striped shirt
The real Bryson DeChambeau emerged after the U.S. Open cameras went off
By: James Colgan

26. Tyrrell Hatton collapsed on Sunday. Shot a 77. But he was an early winner. 

This thought, after a question about whether he preferred a more difficult course such as Pinehurst, was a gem. 

“Yeah, I guess in some ways, with it being harder, a lot of guys sort of losing their head, it sort of brings them to my level because I just lose my head every week. They can kind of experience what it’s like in my head for a week.”

27. Scottie Scheffler wasn’t a winner. He tied for 41st. 

But he also did press conferences on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,    

28. The PGA Tour’s schedule isn’t a winner. Memorial, followed by the U.S. Open, followed by the Travelers? That’s too much. Make fans miss it. Give fans the best from your stars, too. The pros are going to be gassed come this weekend.

29. Justin Lower was a winner. First major championship. First major-championship made cut. First major-championship Sunday, on Father’s Day, 19 years after he lost his father in a car crash. 

30. Michael McGowan hitting the tournament’s opening tee shot was a nice touch. He’s from Pinehurst. His parents met at a tournament at the resort. 

31. Last week, on the Golf Channel broadcast of the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus said this of McIlroy: “You know, he seems to not be able to focus all the way around.” 

I was thinking of that this week. 

32. Interesting that this article hasn’t talked about Tiger Woods yet, right? 

He says he needs reps. But he’ll finish this season playing five events, with two starts at the end of the year — his Hero World Challenge and the pro-relative PNC Championship — also a possibility.

Bryson DeChambeau
How 19 shots and just 31 minutes decided the U.S. Open
By: Sean Zak

What do we make of that? Does he contend again? Does he win again?

33. Phil Mickelson beat five golfers. He turned 54 on Sunday. Are we seeing the end? 

34. Jon Rahm going from talking about his foot injury to withdrawing a few hours later due to his foot injury was wild. 

35. Let’s take a look at the books at the Roast Office.    

I bought one. Had to. “Golf Magazine’s Pro Pointers and Stroke Savers,” written by instruction editors Jimmy Demaret, Gene Sarazen and Louise Suggs. Published in 1959. 

Have to support the brand. 

36. Overheard on the way back to my seat:

Person one: “They planted more grass at Pinehurst to make the course harder for the U.S. Open.”

Person two: “That they did.”


37. Overheard on the way back to my seat, part II:

“Can you imagine the advice Charlie [Woods] is getting from his dad?”

38. Overheard in a player courtesy car — wait, what? I can explain. 

Late Monday afternoon, I walked the front nine with Josh Radcliff, an alternate in the field. Just me, him and his dad, Phillip, who was working as his caddie for the week. He finished on the 9th, and with Pinehurst being a continuous 18, he boarded a car back to the clubhouse. 

Colin Prater and Jordan Spieth walk down the fairway during a U.S. Open practice round.
Look closely at the U.S. Open. You’ll find more than 1 winner
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He kindly asked me to join. 

We talked football. They’re from the Dallas area. I’m from Milwaukee. 

They said Dez Bryant made the catch in the end zone in the 2014 playoff game. I said it was a nice call by the refs. 

39. Overheard to the right of the 10th green on Wednesday:

A conversation about a pro’s divorce. 

40. Time for lunch here. The chicken salad sandwich is doing wonders to get us to the No. 50 mark. 

41. Here are some stories from the GOLF staff that are worth your time:

Michael Bamberger’s final-round wrap-up is gold. 

42. Sean Zak’s story on why U.S. Open golf is fantastic theater is wonderful. 

43. Alan Bastable followed McIlroy on Sunday. Including in the clubhouse afterward. 

44. Bastable also wrote a profile on the Colorado science teacher in the field. 

45. James Colgan dug into the person DeChambeau is away from the cameras.

46. Josh Berhow summed up all that is Hatton.   

47. Claire Rogers continually finds interesting items, and Saturday, she described DeChambeau’s post-round autograph carnival.

48. Dylan Dethier’s winners and losers articles were fun daily wrap-ups. 

49. Dethier has never done finer work than this, though:

50. On Thursday, I got an email. 

A day earlier, I’d written about Willie Mack III, who, while pursuing his pro-golf dream, once lived in his Ford. At the Open, at the age of 35, he was making his major-championship debut. He was also one of two Black players in the field. 

On Thursday, he charged up the leaderboard. At one point, Mack was two-under, before finishing one-over. Maybe he could make the cut. But Friday was a struggle. Mack shot seven-over on the back nine. There was no weekend. But I’d followed him. 

Afterward, I showed Mack the email. He read it. You can read it below. [It’s partially edited.]

“In 2011, I was the sports editor at a newspaper in Northern Michigan. The Michigan Amateur which, as you might well imagine, is a big deal in the state of Michigan, came to Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs. I covered the event.

“Mack [who’s from Flint, Mich.] played hometown boy Joey Garber in the championship match. Garber, who now plays on the KF, would go on to play at Michigan and then at Georgia, where he was an All-American.

“Obviously, as I was covering it, I followed the match shot for shot, and the gallery, for an amateur event, was fairly large (I’d guess upward of 50 to start; perhaps 200 at the finish). And as you would expect, with Garber playing in his backyard — on a course at a club to which he and his family belonged — the gallery was strongly behind him. Garber was the defending champion, too.

“Mack seemed unfazed by the fact that he was the ‘road team’ and played really, really steady. He won 3 and 2 (which ruined my story – I was thinking Pulitzer — about a hometown boy winning!) 

“After the round, I was one of five or so reporters to interview both Garber and Mack. Walking out of the interview room, I stopped to chat with Mack’s caddie (name escapes me). 

“The caddie told me that as he and Willie walked up the fourth or fifth fairway, Willie took a look around at the gallery (and mind you, Willie and his dad were probably the only two minorities within a 20-mile radius of that golf course) and said to the caddie, ‘Looks like it’s just you and me out here, buddy.’

Willie Mack III
He lived in a Ford. Not even his mom knew. Thursday, he plays the U.S. Open
By: Nick Piastowski

“Hearing that, I thought: What a great line! What a great story! The mettle and maturity of this kid! Willie was nothing but class throughout the entire round and after, and I gained a huge amount of respect for him. Been a fan ever since and I’ve followed his career pretty closely (as I have that of Garber).

“Anyway, I’ve told that story hundreds of times to my golfing pals and others whenever the subject of Willie (in particular) and underdogs (in general) come up. 

“I’ve always thought that that line sums up the attitude that Willie (along with his Ford Mustang) has had to take through his career. ‘Looks like it’s just you and me out here, buddy.’ Love it.”

I asked Mack what he thought about it. That someone would take the time to share that. 

He smiled. 

“That’s probably why I keep fighting,” he said.

Editor’s note: I also wrote observations from the Masters and the PGA Championship. You can read the Masters story here and the PGA Championship story here.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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