The First Call Inbox

2024 U.S. Open may have been one for the ages

The First Call readers offer their thoughts on the recent major that saw Bryson DeChambeau win his second U.S. Open on the 72nd hole

Question of the week [June 17-23]: What were your takeaways from the U.S. Open?

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

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I do not miss the weekly presence of LIV players. Their appearances at majors makes them all that much more special.

The PGA Tour’s emerging young talents create plenty of drama week-to-week without LIVers. The man-on-man, face-to-face drama we saw at No. 2, and at Valhalla [for the PGA Championship] — and on many Sundays — can’t be replicated within the LIV format.

Many of LIVs big draws are no longer threats (Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, etc). Even their latest and greatest, Jon Rahm, has lost his incentive, perhaps because the check has cleared and the absence of meaningful competition. What drama we’ve seen when the two tours combine is due to one player, Bryson DeChambeau.

Gary Stauffenberg
Phoenix, Arizona

Rory McIlroy is overrated (and has been). Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel are obsessed with him. Brandel is clearly biased against LIV players.

Denise Small
Aiken, South Carolina

A great exciting finish. Bryson DeChambeau has gotten some great PR advice. A great piece of property and a great golf course was Mickey Moused-up around many of the greens. Where were the windmills?

Ben Duncan
Quincy, Florida

I thought the conditions at Pinehurst No. 2 were great for a U.S. Open.   

It definitely tested the players' approach and short games. The crown greens are definitely an extreme test of accuracy and positioning. Average players do not enjoy these types of greens as our skill level is not at the level to play them.  

For players who complained, then they should go back to the iron range and putting green and practice, practice. Bryson DeChambeau's meticulous preparation definitely gave him an advantage over the field.   

Mike Sickels
Yuba City, California

The remodel of this course just makes it look tricked up. Phony even. The waste areas with sand and wiregrass provided a very inconsistent playing condition. Hit it 30 yards offline and you may still have a lie that the pros have access to the back of the ball, which means they can hit controlled shots. Or the pros may be blocked out by the grass and then have no shot. I have always enjoyed watching the U.S. Open with the emphasis on accuracy. This U.S. Open was not that. 

Rick Wright
Alamo, Texas

The turtleback greens at Pinehurst No. 2 were not designed to be played at 13 on the Stimp. Once again the USGA setup was unplayable. 

Also, LIV players should be banned from competition.

Errol Quinn
Marana, Arizona

I found the U.S. Open to be less than compelling. When it became clear that the "native areas" weren't slowing these guys down, they made the greens virtually unplayable. It was boring to watch ball after ball roll off the greens. If this were a more traditional Open setup with dastardly rough, DeChambeau would have shot 10 over on Sunday by virtue of hitting only about half the fairways. That stat doesn't align with the stated objective of "identifying the best player," it instead became a crapshoot as there were few consequences for missing fairways.

Tom Klabunde
Tempe, Arizona

An important part of golf is being able to create shots out of the ordinary — if indeed golf can be ordinary. Pinehurst No. 2 requires more than an otherwise typical round of golf where the players bomb drives, hit wedges to soft greens and make putts on even-tempo greens.

Pinehurst No. 2 is a great course for the U.S. Open. The winner bombed drives and found his ball in unusual locations with difficult lies. For the most part, he hit great shots from those places, especially among the love grass (as it was originally known as instead of wire grass). There really is no love for being behind one of those clumps, but that is the unique nature of golf in the Sandhills of North Carolina. For those who didn't tame the course consistently, five years is not that far away. The USGA, Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, and the surrounding community did an excellent job for the national championship. Hope the resort and the USGA can maintain or surpass that in 2029.

One item about television coverage: It was excellent, but with way too many voices. As the battle came to an end, imagine an on-going conversation between Brandel Chamblee and Brad Faxon without the traffic cops of Dan Hicks and Mike Tirico, as the championship was being played on the last five holes. There's a place and time for Dan and Mike, but having the foursome (no pun intended) play at the same time was a little much and confusing. And, on the early broadcasts, team Roger Maltbie with Gary Koch for an on-going conversation about the play we see.

Jim Pomeranz
Cary, North Carolina

In the final round, on No. 18, Bryson DeChambeau duck-hooks his drive. No shot. In jail. Punches out to the greenside bunker. Executes an incredible shot. And makes the putt.

In my opinion? The greatest trash par of all time.

Marty Seltzer
Palm Springs, California

My first takeaway is that Bryson DeChambeau has reinvented himself, but this time as a friendlier and more entertaining person and player. Unfortunately, he will not be missed until the next major appearance. 

My second takeaway is that Rory McIlroy has major demons, which may keep him from ever winning another major. 

My third takeaway is that Pinehurst No. 2 is a great major venue. 

My final takeaway is that the tournament was exciting with a lot of potential winners changing each day, all of which I was able to watch, except for the sleeping parts, while recouping from pneumonia. 

James Brock
Atlanta, Georgia

Although Pinehurst gave the fans and the players a load of drama — entertaining for the fans, loathe and heartache for most of the players — I can't imagine many, or any of the players enjoying that type of golf. Shot after shot of near perfection turning into a 40-yard pitch shot.  How many times did we hear, "he just needed one more yard for that shot to be perfect and 10 feet from the pin"? And the next shot was from a sand trap or 40 yards. It 's pretty tough to demand 1 yard of perfection from 190 yards, even from the best in the world. Miss the fairway and it's strictly pot luck on the lie you draw.

Bryson DeChambeau's performance out of the rough on Sunday — and the other days too — was absolutely phenomenal. He handled the conditions the best of anyone, and made the 4 footer and just about everything else, when Rory McIlroy couldn't. Congrats to him.

I like tournaments where 8 to 10 under is a winning score. A couple of birdiefests are OK every now and then, but I would like to see the pros challenged with higher rough and hard, fast greens to control the scoring. But I don't know if turning the greens upside down is the best way to do it. But it was fun to watch. I can't imagine what this 15 handicapper would shoot there. Would shooting 125 be fun?

Barry Duckworth
Knoxville, Tennessee

As an attendee for all four days, I feel most fortunate to have experienced one of the best U.S. Opens from a grounds view and must say that the Village of Pinehurst, USGA staff and its volunteers, American Express, Pinehurst Resort staff, grounds crew and the visitor promotion organization combined to produce a stunning experience. 

Yes, No. 2 is a beast, but as with the British Open, don't we want the course to be one of the big favorites going into a U.S. Open? Hopefully this major was the shot in the arm that televised golf also needs.  

Many golf fans’ opinions are slow to change, but the euphoria born from this instant classic along with the brand redo by Bryson DeChambeau is being welcomed by a lot of fans. His reinvented social media content is no longer shaking heads and his audience has been soaring.

The gallery was encouraging him during all four rounds and he was giving it back with self-deprecating banter and high fives. His post-round pressers revealed authentic self-reexamination, mea culpas and deep appreciation for the people around him who keep him on track.

And did you see the way he shared the trophy touch with the fans? I also saw him signing items well after dark, making huge impressions on adult fans and especially with budding fans at the Kids Only queue. 

He rode off in the distant from the Golf Channel set to a surprise reversal role in the bunker with Johnson Wagner for stunning content that will live forever ... and then he stays even later to thank even more staff for waiting on him. Other than Tony Finau, who else is going to do that?

The influence Payne Stewart had on Bryson (SMU, U.S. Amateurs, clothing, etc.) could not have proven more serendipitous than his joy in pulling it off on the 25th anniversary of Stewart’s iconic victory on that very same green.  

All this is to say that perhaps his own reexamination and this immediately embraced victory just might be the impetus for us fans and global golf to accept some changes, and get this merger deal back on the front burner. 

Steve Moore
Birmingham, Alabama

Brandel Chamblee is someone that should not be doing golf commentary in the future.  

Steve Pratt
Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Thank you for publishing the anti-Bryson DeChambeau comments and his acceptance of LIV money. I had this discussion with many online and was quite depressed at how quickly people had pushed aside the Saudi involvement in horrible actions of the past.

Your publishing of these comments restored my faith in humanity. 

Mike Langley
St. Thomas, Ontario 

My main takeaways are:
1, How nice it was to see a decent field.
2, It’s time to move on from Tiger Woods. The announcers humiliated themselves with their Friday afternoon coverage.
3, What a phony Brandel Chamblee is. After years of roasting LIV players, his post-tournament interview with Bryson DeChambeau had nary a mention.
4, What a gracious, charming winner DeChambeau is.
5, What a boorish child — just like Woods — McIlroy is. 
6, All in all, great coverage on the weekend after Woods missed the cut and it forced them to cover the real contenders.

Vinny Mooney
Poughkeepsie, New York

My takeaway is that it's the courses that create the real drama in golf. Take away the top 10 golfers in the world and hold a tournament at Augusta, Pinehurst, Pebble, Whistling Straits or any of the classic courses like Merion, Oakmont or Oakland Hills, and you still get a great tournament. Even Kapalua, Scottsdale, the Bear Trap, the Snake Pit, Torrey Pines, Riviera and the Memorial are must-see golf.

That's why LIV, regardless of what golfers they poach or which of its golfers win a major, will never have the popularity of the PGA. 

Terry Fraser
Huntsville, Alabama

Bryson DeChambeau has a form of popularity/connection with the public not seen since John Daly. Visually, Pinehurst makes for interesting TV viewing and a compelling U.S. Open site. Unlike 2014 we now see a fully mature Pinehurst. Can Rory McIlroy ever recover from this? That is the remaining question yet to be answered. 

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

My takeaways? The “U-S-A.” chant by some boorish ne’re-do-well’s who sullied the final day.  Go ahead and kick a man while he’s down. Classless.

Tommy Jennings
Winder, Georgia

All that chanting of "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A" for Dechambeau? He abandoned the USA in favor of the Saudi blood money and said the 9/11 families should be forgiving. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy turned down millions to keep the PGA Tour relevant.

Sometimes, fans are just plain stupid, as in Baba Booey. 

Larry Ashe
Chicago, Illinois  

I take away one phrase that rang clear. I give credit to veteran announcer Jim McKay for his insight many years ago. The table was set on the 18th green of the historic Pinehurst No. 2. "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat."

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

It saddened me and maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but those who chose to leave the PGA Tour and join LIV should be considered retired from the PGA Tour and not be allowed to participate in any PGA Tour events, including the majors.

Why is our memory so short that we can’t remember the killing and dismembering of a U.S. journalist as well as the attack on 9/11 and the 3,000-plus deaths — all caused by the Saudis.

If and when they come together, that will be the last time I spend one second of my time on professional golf tournaments.

Ken MacKay
Stouffville, Ontario

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Front photo: Bryson DeChambeau celebrates on the 18th green following the final round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club's No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Credit: Fran Caffrey / Golffile