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PINEHURST, N.C. -- Bryson DeChambeau's victory at the 2024 U.S. Open will go down as an all-time major championship moment, and it may even serve as a pivotal chapter in the game's history. DeChambeau has proven himself a different golfer and a different person than he was when he last won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2020, making this victory feel less like a follow-up and more like a launching point for a star who can usher golf into its next era.

Too often the idea of DeChambeau the YouTube star is met with confusion by an older generation of golf fan that is neither consuming his content nor the intended audience for it. What you saw among the more than 100,000 fans in attendance at Pinehurst No. 2 this week, though, was that intended audience -- a younger, more online, social media-savvy fan base that powered their favorite golfer across 72 difficult holes.

DeChambeau fed off hearing catch phrases from his YouTube channel yelled out by fans, and they, too, adored the opportunity to watch their favorite influencer in person. He delighted the crowd with gestures big and small -- from fist pumps and flexes to stopping and signing autographs for kids late into the evening on Saturday night as he held the 54-hole lead at the third major of the year.

DeChambeau, recently nicknamed the "greatest showman" in golf, believes the entertainment factor has been underutilized in the sport, and he hopes to expand the game through his social media presence. 

"It's direct conversations to people that truly engage with what I'm doing. It's such an awesome, awesome platform for me to show who I truly am," DeChambeau said of his YouTube presence. "Those fans out there really helped push me out there today. Even when stuff wasn't going well ... the fans are still chanting my name."  

Letting people in has served DeChambeau well both in terms of his popularity and his mindset. No longer the misunderstood mad scientist -- who was sometimes mocked for using a compass to determine true pin locations unless it was legislated out of the game -- DeChambeau has overcome adversity and emerged on the other side more comfortable in his own skin. 

It got particularly dark for Bryson in 2022, a year that included the loss of his father and a broken hand that had him wondering whether he would be able to be the same golfer again. This as his strategy of hitting the bar as far as possible and cleaning up from there was no longer working as it once did. He credits a good team around him for changing his trajectory. Though it took more than a year to get his game back, he has come through on the other side with a better mindset about what it takes to win.

"I've realized that there's a lot more to life than just golf. Treating others, yourself first and foremost, respecting yourself, is super important to being able to treat others with respect as well. That's one of the big things that I've learned," explained DeChambeau when asked to describe how he grew through the dark times. "I'm not perfect; I'm human. Everyone's human. Certainly those low moments have helped establish a new mind frame of who I am, what's expected, what I can do and what I want to do in my life." 

What DeChambeau wants to do now is entertain; what he doesn't want to do is linger on gripes from prior chapters of his professional career. He said he's willing to let bygones be bygones when it comes to hurt feelings about his departure to LIV Golf with hopes that a divided sport can be brought closer together. 

"All I want to do is entertain and do my best for the game of golf, execute and provide some awesome entertainment for the fans. From at least what I can tell, that's what the fans want, and they deserve that," he said.

The great twist on DeChambeau's emergence as golf's star of the YouTube era is that such an entertainment-focused approach is actually a throwback to when the sport's calendar was filled with more fun-forward exhibitions and fields included characters that were beloved, not criticized, for their oversized personalities.

An ongoing issue -- not just in golf but all of sports -- is that as the money factor has increased, athletes have become more sanitized. They have teams of agents, managers and public relations consultants working tirelessly to control narratives and avoid controversies at all costs.

DeChambeau has the same army of support staff as any other star in golf, but they've empowered him to indulge his impulses on social media. 

At his core, he might not be as much a villainous mad scientist as a fun-loving kid that can't stop exploring the world of a game he loves. All week, the passion for DeChambeau at Pinehurst No. 2 was coming from a notably younger demographic than supported anyone else in the field. And while the idea of a big kid bouncing around one of golf's most iconic courses may be a turn-off for another generation, Bryson has brought out a real passion for golf from the exact audience the sport needs to obtain in order to thrive into the future. 

Being a big kid leaning on those creative impulses that so frequently fade with age helped DeChambeau win an all-time duel with Rory McIlroy at Pinehurst No. 2. 

"When I was a kid, I used to throw golf balls in the worst lies outside of the fairway and just learned to hit out of the worst situations to see what I could do," DeChambeau said. "I had this unique childhood experience in golf of working on really quirky, weird things, then also working super hard on the mechanics, trying to be as machinelike as possible. I feel like that combination allows, as it just pretty much showed in what I did today, that in certain situations where I have no control over what's going to happen, you got to just figure out how to will it and get it done. That creativity gets sparked." 

DeChambeau needed that creativity when his drive on No. 18 landed next to a root nestled under a magnolia tree. As he pondered how to escape the precarious situation, he heard the groans from the grandstand that indicated McIlroy had missed his par putt. DeChambeau knew a par would win the U.S. Open, and now, it was time to get a creative.

After punching out to the bunker short of the green, DeChambeau was empowered by caddy Gregory Bodine with a simple message: Just get it up-and-down; you've hit crazier shots from 50 yards out of a bunker before. The creativity was sparked, Bryson asked for a 55-degree wedge, and he delivered a shot that will go down in U.S. Open history. 

As the 2024 U.S. Open wound down at Pinehurst the presence of Payne Stewart was very much alive -- not just because his silhouette was on the 18th green flag. Stewart also needed to get up-and-down for par during his iconic win back in 1999, one in which he out-dueled another all-time great in Phil Mickelson.

As DeChambeau sat at the podium after the round, a Payne-inspired cap sat atop the trophy. DeChambeau, who long wore such a cap and even attended SMU because he idolized Stewart, has now added an equally impressive chapter to the history of U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, a course that will host this event again in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.

When the golf world gear ups for those future U.S. Opens, it will relive Stewart's up-and-down as now DeChambeau's effort as well, remembering two great victories that fell 25 years apart thrilling wildly different generations. And as those dates come and go, the YouTube generation will be telling their children what it was like to see Bryson DeChambeau, an all-time entertainer and golf talent, deliver right in front of them on the game's biggest stage.

Rick Gehman, Patrick McDonald, Greg DuCharme recap the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.