Cast your mind back to early 2022, when LIV Golf was confirmed as going ahead with its intentions to disrupt the ecosystem of professional golf. Back when the notion of “no one likes change” was at its strongest, and LIV was getting the most pushback from fans in its 2.5-year timeline. Back then, could you have imagined a world where, 2.5 years later, DeChambeau would be golf’s most watchable pro?

Probably not. Despite winning the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot after an extreme bulking regime, the eight-time PGA Tour winner was coming off slow play accusations, rambling about his scientific approaches to golf and was about to leave the riches of the PGA Tour for even greener pastures.

Fast forward to April 2024 and the big-hitting DeChambeau is arguably the greatest show on turf.

Has any tour pro come out of the schism between golf’s major tours with a more improved image? Really think about that. Is any professional golfer more exciting to watch in 2024 while golf’s biggest stars, sans Scottie Scheffler, struggle to fire?

Some tour pros have taken a hit to their reputations in the pro golf divide. Some have come away unscathed. Others have remained true to themselves. But no player has revamped his image like DeChambeau. It’s the latest of his many transformations.

Ratings don’t lie. And given we’re in the YouTube age, this column isn’t talking about only TV numbers, as important as they are. TV ratings, after all, are telling us that the PGA Tour’s numbers are not good. The Masters lost about 20 per cent of the CBS viewers from Jon Rahm’s win in 2023 to Scottie Scheffler’s second green jacket two weeks ago. The ongoing improvements to the Masters app viewing experience are partly responsible for diverting traffic. But that couldn’t save the following week, when the ratings for the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town said the same thing: people are tuning out of the PGA Tour. CBS drew 2.151 million viewers for the final round at Harbour Town, down from the 4.152 million who watched last year as Jordan Spieth battled, and lost, to Matt Fitzpatrick in an epic duel.

DeChambeau is literally getting almost half the eyeballs on his YouTube uploads that CBS is getting for an entire PGA Tour final round. Don’t believe us? Take a look at his upload last year where he challenged fellow LIV player Phil Mickelson to a nine-hole match at The Greenbrier, a former PGA Tour host course where only days later DeChambeau shot 58 to win that LIV Golf event. The match against Mickelson drew 2.5 million views. That’s his greatest show. What about DeChambeau and 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia trying to break 50 for 18 holes two weeks ago? 724,000 views. How about he and golf influencer Paige Spiranac trying to break 50 from the red tees at a golf course? 856,000 views. Last week, DeChambeau bought a set of kids’ clubs from Walmart and tried to break par using them. That video drew 854,000 views.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for a guy who has drawn plenty of criticism over the years. Like in 2020 when he called Augusta National a “par 67” for himself and definitely didn’t shoot 20 under, or win. Or a year later when he said his “driver sucked” at the 2021 Open Championship. For years he has been criticised for slow play.

There was a time golf fans couldn’t cop him. Now, they can’t their eyes off him.

As professional golfers lull us to sleep with talk of “my team” and “going through my processes,” DeChambeau dares to be different. His vibe is not for everyone. But everyone can agree he’s not boring.

At LIV Golf Adelaide this week, DeChambeau has been arguably the strongest crowd favourite behind local hero and 2022 British Open champion Cameron Smith. DeChambeau has been gracious with fans and media while his LIV peers have declined interviews hand over fist. He has signed autographs up the wazoo. Earlier in the week, he spent 20 minutes outdriving Australian Golf Digest’s editor-in-chief, Brad Clifton, left-handed in a video before the tournament. (Clifton is left-handed).

DeChambeau, fresh off a career-best T6 at the Masters two weeks ago, has actively pumped up the Adelaide crowds on most holes at The Grange while shooting 68, 68 to sit eight under after two rounds and in contention.

On Saturday’s second round, having made par on his first five holes of a shotgun start from the 17th, DeChambeau came to the tee at the 326m par-4 fourth. Playing companions Talor Gooch and Cameron Tringale had laid up into the fairway off the tee, leaving a short approach.

DeChambeau reached into his bag and pulled out his driver, which is a Krank product used by World Long Drive competitors. Such a move brought wild applause from the crowd. After a practice swing, DeChambeau put the driver back in his bag and pulled out an iron. The crowd groaned. But the Californian walked back to his bag and again pulled the driver back out. Huge cheers. He waved his index finger to let everyone know he had taken the mickey right out of them.

The former world No.4 – who famously pounded a 332-metre drive over the water at the par-5 sixth at Bay Hill during his 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational win on the PGA Tour – then blasted a 326-metre drive on Saturday at LIV Adelaide’s fourth hole. His ball landed in the greenside bunker, from where he got up and down for birdie.

His playing partners, Gooch and Tringale, also made birdie at the fourth.

But who would you rather watch?