Bryson DeChambeau has 1 thing the rest of the PGA Championship doesn’

Bryson DeChambeau has 1 thing the rest of the PGA Championship doesn’t
Bryson DeChambeau enters Sunday at the PGA Championship in the thick of contention.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The legend of Bryson DeChambeau, golf genius can distract from reality.
Not that DeChambeau isn’t an intelligent guy. He’s curious in ways that elude most of his professional golfing counterparts, unafraid of deep internet rabbit holes, physics textbooks and the YouTube algorithm. His excited breakdown of something called “finite element analysis” on Saturday evening reminded us that he’s a regular (and occasionally overexuberant) nerd for the world to see.
There are plenty of nerds in the world, but not many that work this hard. And after so many hours of range time and exhaustive practice, what Bryson DeChambeau can do with a golf club in his hands these days appears more skilled laborer than virtuoso. But that’s not all. You see, the key to DeChambeau is that he’s an entertainer, and at the second major of the season, he is the entertainer in a field full of golfers. The fact that he’s two shots back and among the favorites to hoist the Wanamaker trophy doesn’t hurt, either.
The evidence of DeChambeau’s spotlight delight was everywhere on PGA Saturday, but nowhere more than on the 18th green at Valhalla, where he poured in a 30-foot chip for eagle to close out a third-round 67. Bryson exploded as the ball fell into the cup, unleashing a furious fist-pump and prolonged celebration from off the 18th. As he walked off the green, his performance arrived in a flurry: he bear-hugged caddie Greg Bodine, he launched a signed golf ball 30 yards into the crowd, he flashed a goofy smile into a CBS camera and, in the goofiest possible delivery, mouthed
It’s unclear if DeChambeau knows exactly how he looks in these moments, but there is little doubt he knows he’s being looked at. This, mind you, is the same man who went into bulking hibernation and during the Covid lockdowns, spent a year toiling in an Orgain-induced state of distance-chasing delirium, began competing in long-drive competitions in an apparent effort to boost public perception of his virility, then lost most of the weight in a few truly heinous weeks after realizing he was allergic to that diet. Now he’s redefined his game entirely. He knows how to keep us guessing.
Bryson keeps us guessing. That’s a key to the whole thing. You never know when he’s going to do something utterly dumbfounding, strangely profound, or even mind-blowingly oblivious. You never know if he’s noodling with a one-of-one set of irons employing a strange piece of theoretical physics, or if his driver has just snapped clean in half.
You just know it’s going to be interesting, and he knows it too, which can make you roll your eyes on some days but revel in his presence on others.
Attention, after all, is the golden goose at the center of the sports economy. Golfers are not rich because of their ability to hit a golf ball far and straight, they’re rich because they attract the attention of millions of people while they do it. Without attention — from fans and sponsors — sports TV rights are worthless, and without TV rights money, so are professional athletes. Not even the Saudi PIF can avoid this cold market reality, which is why it spends millions each year employing folks aiming to turn LIV into a profitable business entity.
On an individual level, the realities are no different: After golf, attention is the thing that can most change a professional golfer’s financial fortunes. That’s how Joel Dahmen found his sponsor list growing after starring in Netflix’s Full Swingand it’s why Tiger Woods has rarely missed a media availability in his life. It’s also some of why DeChambeau, a major champion and likely hundred-millionaire, finds himself moonlighting as a YouTuber.
“It just keeps my brain fresh and in an entertainment mode, and realizing what the game is all about: not just for myself and winning money or winning trophies, but entertaining as well,” he said Saturday. “Obviously we all want to win trophies. But being able to entertain the fans is what we’re all here to do, and I think that’s what’s the most important thing.”

Bryson was asked if he felt comfortable with his equipment, and he responded by talking about something called “finite element analysis.”

Enertainment and excellence. At the PGA Championship, DeChambeau suddenly has a unique opportunity to find both. His performance throughout at Valhalla has been “exhilarating” in part because of the fans, who have embraced him all week in a warm Kentucky hug. The crowds are friendlier to Bryson than they were a few years ago — a product of his maturity, sure, but also theirs.
“I’ve worked really hard to have people hopefully understand who I am a little bit better,” Bryson said. “YouTube has been a great platform to help that out. I love doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
On Sunday, DeChambeau won’t need a YouTube login to deliver entertainment to the masses. He will play in the third-to-last group of the PGA Championship, broadcast live on national television for a few million viewers. He’ll have a legit chance at his second major title, and he’ll be trying for it in front of one of the largest tournament crowds of the year.
In other words, it’s the perfect cocktail for more Bryson madness. Like it or hate it, well, you’ll like it or hate it. That’s why you’ll be tuning in to see it.
That’s Bryson’s gift. And on Sunday at the PGA, it just might be genius.

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