DeChambeau wins US Open after McIlroy's collapse

US Open final leaderboard

-6 DeChambeau (US); -5 McIlroy (NI); -4 Cantlay, Finau (US); -3 Pavon (Fra); -2 Matsuyama (Jap); -1 Schauffele, Henley (US)

Selected others: +1 Aberg (Swe); +2 Morikawa (US); +3 Fleetwood (Eng); +4 Rai (Eng); +6 Hatton (Eng); +8 Scheffler (US), McKibbin (NI)

Full leaderboard

Rory McIlroy made three bogeys in his final four holes to blow the chance to end his 10-year wait for a fifth major and allow Bryson DeChambeau to snatch the US Open.

The Northern Irishman had overhauled a three-shot overnight deficit to the American to lead by two strokes with five to play but missed par putts within four feet at the 16th and 18th derailed his chances in devastating fashion.

DeChambeau clinched his second major title with a nerveless four-foot putt that was set up by a brilliant 50-yard escape from a bunker that he described as "the shot of my life".

"That was huge, to get up and down and win this prestigious championship - that will be the highlight of my life," added DeChambeau, who won $4.3m (£3.4m), which was $2m more than for his victory in 2020.

It is the fourth time McIlroy has finished second at a major since winning his fourth at the US PGA Championship in 2014.

It was a thrilling denouement to a gruelling test over four days at Pinehurst's fabled Number Two course in North Carolina.

The first 14 holes of the final round belonged to McIlroy as he overhauled third-round leader DeChambeau thanks to some superb long-range birdie putts.

However, McIlroy's touch on the greens completely deserted him down the stretch as he missed from inside three feet on 16 then four feet on 18 to present DeChambeau, in the group behind, with the opportunity to seal victory.

"Rory is one of the best to ever play," said DeChambeau. "Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. For him to miss that putt [on 18], I'd never wish it on anybody. Luckily, things went my way."

The champion's own journey down the 18th was not without trouble, as he found a waste area off the tee then the bunker short of the green with his approach.

However, the 30-year-old continued the superb scrambling that had kept him in with a chance during a poor day of ball-striking by splashing out and holing a putt of a similar length McIlroy had missed moments earlier. Crucially, DeChambeau's putt was straight uphill, while McIlroy's was downwhill and with a big left-to-right swing.

As the popular American celebrated wildly amid raucous scenes around the 18th green, a dejected McIlroy watched on from the scoring room before quickly departing without talking to the media.

DeChambeau finds form when it matters

Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau wore a pin badge on his cap in honour of Payne Stewart, whose 1999 US Open victory at Pinehurst is immortalised in a statue at the course [Getty Images]

DeChambeau's previous US Open victory at Winged Foot came during a time he had bulked up his physique and was obsessed with distance off the tee.

Four years on, he reclaimed the trophy as a more measured and composed golfer, one who still hits the ball a prodigious distance but also has a deft touch and a calculated approach to negotiate some of the game’s toughest courses.

He claimed a share of fourth place at the Masters and was second at the US PGA Championship before becoming the only player in the field to shoot under-par rounds on the first three days at Pinehurst.

That gave him a three-shot cushion going into the final day, but at the championship that labels itself the 'toughest test in golf', he still had much work to do.

DeChambeau had excelled off the tee as he built his lead but, perhaps affected by having to change the head on his driver moments before teeing off, he found the waste areas down the right of numerous holes in the final round.

As a result of being out of position off the tee so often he made only two birdies on the last day while racking up three bogeys - but that number could have been much higher but for his exceptional recoveries from the native vegetation, as well as his dependable short game.

With the open nature of the course, DeChambeau could "see where [McIlroy] was almost on every hole from 13 on in" from his position in the group behind.

"I even saw on 10 where he made birdie," said the American, who now plays on the LIV Golf circuit.

"I'm like, 'oh, man, he's gunning, he's going for it'. So I had to put my foot on the pedal and push down pretty hard.

"I could hear 'Rory, Rory' chants. That was fun because it gave me the knowledge of what I had to do.

"There was also a lot of, 'go USA, go Europe'. It was a fun battle between us."

DeChambeau engaged with fans throughout the week both during and after his rounds and his social media presence means he is now one of the game's most popular players.

When the winning putt dropped, he mouthed “can you believe that?” to the TV cameras, before bouncing around the green with his caddie and support team.

After the presentation, he charged into the group of fans lining the 18th fairway, honouring his pledge to allow them to touch the trophy, before posing with it for photographs in what will surely now be known as 'DeChambeau's bunker'.

McIlroy stumbles in sight of finish

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy made three bogeys in his final four holes to lose the US Open by one shot [Reuters]

Of course, DeChambeau ought not to have been in position to win the trophy outright on the 18th.

McIlroy holed four birdies in his opening 14 holes and had the crowd chanting "Rory, Rory, Rory" when he drained a 27-foot putt on the 13th to move two shots clear.

The European Ryder Cup star was better off the tee than DeChambeau and while his iron play was mixed, his chipping and especially his putting were superb.

The flatstick is not McIlroy's strength but it was his long birdie putts that put him in command of the championship.

It is ironic then that it was his putting that let him down - and for which this championship will always be remembered.

Before this round, McIlroy was 496 from 496 for putts inside three feet this season but he watched in horror as his ball lipped out on the 16th for a second straight bogey.

That opened the door for DeChambeau and, after another fine chip following a recovery from native vegetation at the last, he cost himself a play-off with his rival with a nervous prod that slid past the low side.

McIlroy has had numerous close calls in the past 10 years - not least his one-shot defeat to Wyndham Clark 12 months ago - but this one will surely sting the most.

His next bid to end his long major drought will start in five weeks' time at The Open at Royal Troon in Ayrshire.

Pinehurst a bruising challenge for world's elite

Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay's share of third equalled his best performance at a major championship [Getty Images]

The last time the US Open was held at Pinehurst in 2014, only three players finished under par - with Germany's Martin Kaymer an outlier as he won by eight.

Once again, it proved a bruising test for the world's best with only eight players managing to finish in the red.

Playing with McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay was his usual methodical self but never heated up enough to really challenge the lead. Fellow American Tony Finau shot an excellent three-under 67 for his third round in the 60s to join Cantlay at four under.

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg had lit up Pinehurst through 36 holes but struggled on the weekend and an early triple-bogey effectively knocked him out of the running. He shot 73 to finish one over.

England's Tommy Fleetwood, the only player in US Open history to have multiple rounds of 63 on the final day, again excelled on Sunday, carding a 68 to finish on three over, one ahead of compatriot Aaron Rai.

However, it was a disappointing closing day for Tyrrell Hatton, who started at one under but slumped to six over with a final-round 77.

That did at least beat the world number one Scottie Scheffler, whose two-over 72 left him eight over par for the tournament alongside Northern Ireland's Tom McKibbin.