Getty Images

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Bryson DeChambeau's performance after the 2024 U.S. Open may have been even better than his performance during the four days of competition. In no particular order, the newly crowned two-time champion signed autographs into the sunset for kids and adults alike, paraded the trophy around Pinehurst so everyone on the property could experience what it was like to touch it, and he even found a camera and a willing partner in Golf Channel's Johnson Wagner, who he helped recreate the 55-yard bunker shot that won Bryson his second national championship.

DeChambeau said earlier in the week that he has always wanted to relate to fans but didn't always express it the right way. Prior efforts sometimes came across differently than intended. DeChambeau appears honest and forthright when sharing as much because he understands what it means to be shunned, considered an outcast.

It does not take a lot of watching and listening to the player formerly known as "The Big Golfer" to realize that he was probably polarizing as a teenager as an elite golf talent in his amateur days. Heck, go back as recently as three years ago when PGA Tour crowds derided and jeered him at every event.

Strangely, this only emboldened his desire to relate to them.

So, when Bryson is running around letting fans touch the trophy and pulling over his golf cart to give lessons on a postgame show hours after winning the U.S. Open, it can engender eye rolls and harrumphs from even the grumpiest among us. But those actions are being looked at through the lens of other players. Choose any stars: If Tony Finau or Xander Schauffele or Jon Rahm acted like DeChambeau, they would be considered insincere and inauthentic.

When Bryson does it, perhaps it's still ridiculous and sometimes bordering on absurd ... but it's also endearing. 

This gets at something that came across in those (literal) victory laps around Pinehurst. DeChambeau, at his core, seems like a sweet and kindhearted guy. He obviously wants to be loved, but I he also wants others to feel loved. He seeks a mutual relationship. The way his efforts play out may come across goofy or perhaps even insincere at times, but it is far more care than most of his peers offer up. It is beyond what most others could say.

Sometimes, it feels like moving heaven and earth to get a golfer to even acknowledge the folks who paid money to come out and watch him. Bryson was whipping fans up at each corner of the property, rising and falling -- just as they were -- on every single shot. They loved that he cared because it meant their care had meaning.

Bryson DeChambeau, for all that can be said about his crazy ideas and stellar career, seems to truly consider a world beyond his own. That doesn't mean he's not still a goofball and a try-hard at times, but he deserves respect for overcoming whatever worry he has about others' perception of his theatrics and his obvious connection to those among whom he has now become beloved.

A few more thoughts on the 2024 U.S. Open ...

That crushing feeling

I wrote about Rory McIlroy's despair Sunday evening, and Shane Ryan did so, too -- even better than I. It's worth revisiting on Monday, though, because it feels even even heavier in retrospect. How many chances does one get to win a major? And now, how many more will come around for McIlroy, presently age 35? If you squint, Rory could have won a major in each of the last three years: the 2022 Open at St. Andrews, and now the 2023 and 2024 U.S. Opens. He's, like, four putts from seven majors and being in the same conversation as Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer.

That's devastating, and the part that feels inescapable is how few of these opportunities exist. I think about that a lot with him and the Masters. Every year, he tries, and every year, he fails. It must feel so devastating to consider the passage of time that occurs between chances. This is not that, as there is another major in just under a month, but it is a version of that because Rory probably has only about 25-30 major swings left in his true prime. Perhaps not even that many.

After each one, the window gets smaller. That is true for everyone, but it feels more weighty when one is 35 compared to when one is 25 and has an entire career still out in front of them. 

So much work goes into each of these weeks, and there are so few moments where one has a major championship in his grasp. It was equally shocking and torturous watching him watch himself kick this one away.

The pivotal hole

Everyone will remember the two missed putts late in his round, but the pivotal hole for McIlroy was No. 5. He made a bogey, and he probably should've had a 5-foot putt (or shorter) for birdie. He could have used those two shots later in the day.

Here's his approach. If it's, what, 2 yards higher -- maybe a bit more -- he's putting for eagle and likely making birdie. Instead, the ball rolls into the waste area, and he's scrambling for bogey. Legacies turn on feet and inches, and though this was not necessarily a bad break, it's one I'm sure he'll think about for a long time.

The other pivotal hole

On Saturday, Tony Finau tripled the short par-4 13th. So did Ludvig Åberg. If Finau makes par, his score is 7 under. Now, does he get to 7 under if he's truly in the hunt over the final few holes? I don't know about that. But that right pin Saturday on No. 13 was out on an island, and it destroyed the hopes of two prominent contenders. 

First, what a hole! Second, what a bounce back from Finau! I don't know that he will ever get his major championship, but he crawled all the way back to 4 under and a T3 finish, tied for best in his career. He had gone three years since his last top 10 at a major, so this one should provide some confidence heading into next month's Open Championship.

Pinehurst routing makes for great championship

I will not be the first or last to make this point, but part of the drama on the grounds this weekend can be attributed to the leaders always being in each other's line of sight. Every nook and cranny at Pinehurst is a viewpoint from which players can see both who is out in front and who is behind. The one that sticks with me is DeChambeau chasing after his tee shot on No. 17 as McIlroy, who had just bogeyed two of three holes, watched his delight seeing the ball land 20 feet from the cup just before he had to step up and hit his final drive of the tournament. 

This is one of about a dozen examples down the back nine of this occurrence. Even if you're not a scoreboard watcher as a player, the entire unfolding of this tournament was impossible to ignore.

Bryson is the best major player of 2024

One underrated part of DeChambeau's game is how well-rounded he has become. The first three majors of 2024 were played at fairly different golf courses, but he's been awesome at all three and currently stands as the leader on this year's aggregate major leaderboard. Here are all 12 golfer who are currently under par (to qualify, you have to make the cut at all three majors).

PlayerTo ParWins
Bryson DeChambeau-281
Xander Schauffele-231
Collin Morikawa-170
Scottie Scheffler-161
Rory McIlroy-130
Tommy Fleetwood-100
Patrick Cantlay-50
Russell Henley-40
Hideki Matsuyama-30
Corey Conners-20
Shane Lowry-20
Tony Finau-20

First to three majors?

The following six golfers now all have two major championships: DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson.

Other than D.J., they are all relatively the same age. It's a group that may soon include the likes of Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama or Matt Fitzpatrick. Only time will tell, but it will be fascinating to see who of the former group is the first to three and whether any catch McIlroy at four, Brooks Koepka at five or even Phil Mickelson at six.

As the post-Tiger Woods era starts to settle in, this group (you can throw Jordan Spieth in with three majors) has established itself as, at least for now, a unit that has achieved far more than their peers. Who among them is done winning majors? Who is not? Who can double his total? Or even triple? Major legacies are endlessly fascinating to discuss, and DeChambeau leveled this field with his victory at Pinehurst No. 2.