[PHOTO: Getty Images]

An emotional Bryson DeChambeau paid tribute to his late father, Jon, and his golf idol, the late Payne Stewart, when he won the US Open for a second time. The first came at Winged Foot during COVID with no fans, the second came at Pinehurst No.2 with tens of thousands in the gallery screaming support for the most popular player in golf.

On the final tee shot at Pinehurst, the 30-year-old DeChambeau had driven it way left behind a TV tower and found a greenside bunker with his second shot. The American then saved an epic par from 50 metres from the flag to defeat Rory McIlroy by one.

“I can’t believe that up and down [from the sand] on the last; that was the best shot of my life,” DeChambeau said.

The big-hitting DeChambeau ironically won the US Open with his short game, limping home with a one-over-par 71 to finish at six under par (274) while McIlroy’s 69 left him at five under.

In becoming the second LIV golfer to win a major after Brooks Koepka claimed the 2023 PGA Championship, DeChambeau also managed to thwart McIlroy’s bid to end a 10-year majors drought.

Having also claimed the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot, and the 2015 US Amateur, which is also run by the United States Golf Association, DeChambeau became just the fourth golfer to win the US Amateur and multiple US Open titles. The other three were Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

DeChambeau also became the 23rd player to win multiple US Opens, a list that includes his hero, Stewart. Stewart won the 1989 PGA, the 1991 US Open and again at Pinehurst in 1999. Months after winning at Pinehurst, Stewart died in a private plane accident in October of 1999.

DeChambeau wished both men could have seen him lift the US Open trophy in its 124th edition on Father’s Day in the US.

“I want to say happy Father’s Day to every father out there; unfortunately my dad passed a couple years ago and this one is for him,” DeChambeau said about his father Jon, who died in 2022 after kidney problems related to diabetes. “Also to Payne Stewart. He’s the reason I went to SMU (Southern Methodist University, Stewart’s alma mater), the reason I wore the [peaked] cap.”

McIlroy led with four holes remaining but made bogeys on three of the last four. Two of them were putts inside four feet, including two-and-a-half feet at the par-4 16th and just inside four feet at the par-4 18th.

The par putt on 18 would have guaranteed a playoff against DeChambeau. Instead, McIlroy declined to talk to media as he walked past reporters and officials and into a courtesy car.

DeChambeau felt for McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion. “I still can’t believe it; he slipped up a couple times on the way in and I just stayed the course,” he said. “Rory is one of the best to ever play. Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. For him to miss that putt, I’d never wish it on anybody. It just happened to play out that way.”

The North Carolina crowds were overwhelmingly on DeChambeau’s side on the final day. The LIV golf star has revamped his image since joining the rival league after years of being one of golf’s most polarising figures. Playing on the PGA Tour from 2016 to 2022, where he won eight times, DeChambeau battled accusations of slow play and pushback to his regular public complaints about his own equipment. He was unpopular relative to other golf stars due to his quirky, scientific approach to golf.

But in 2022, DeChambeau joined LIV Golf and as a franchise captain of the Crushers GC team he seems to have a new lease on life. He also has said losing his father gave him more perspective. The innovative, social media-savvy DeChambeau has also built a YouTube channel that regularly yields audiences that reach almost one million for each one-hour episode. He interacts with fans on course at tournaments better than any other tour player and was the crowd favourite at last month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he was second to Xander Schauffele.

“I cant thank you guys enough for the support all week; you’re the best fans in the world and I can’t thank you enough,” DeChambeau said to the Pinehurst galleries.

He has become the greatest show on turf.

McIlroy’s second consecutive solo runner up at the US Open was undoubtedly a crushing blow. His last major victory came at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, which was his second Wanamaker Trophy after winning in 2012. Valhalla had followed his 2011 US Open and 2014 Open Championship wins.

In the past three years, the former world No.1 has recorded three solo second-place results at the majors and a third place at the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrews behind Cameron Smith. Those three top-three finishes are among a total of eight top 10s.

Meanwhile, Tony Finau (67) and Patrick Cantlay (70) tied third at four under at Pinehurst, while Frenchman Matthieu Pavon was solo fifth at three under. Pavon locked up a return to the US Open via finishing in the top 10.

Min Woo Lee was the top Australian in a tie for 21st at five over after a closing 71.

Adam Scott, playing his 23rd consecutive US Open, was two shots further back of Lee at seven over having closed with a 69. Scott was tied with fellow Queenslander Cameron Smith at seven over after the 2022 Open champion signed off with a 72.