PINEHURST — If Bryson DeChambeau is not for you, if you find his celebratory theatrics hard to stomach, or his pseudo-scientific explanations hard to understand, I have some bad news.

Sunday at the U.S. Open might be a tough watch for you.

Bryson, you see, has found his happy place. He is riding a wave of positive energy. He is, at last, living his best life. He’s overpowering golf courses, creating online content for an army of passionate fans, he’s cracking jokes and innovating elements of his sport, and he’s feeding off the adulation like never before.

If you’re still pulling against DeChambeau, that’s your prerogative. But you are now clearly in the minority. He has turned the tide of public sentiment, likely for good.

“It was amazing,” DeChambeau said Saturday, when asked about the crowd support. “I can't thank them enough. It was a blessing. Man, they riled me up.”

Three years ago, imagining all this unfolding in a major would have felt like a fantasy, like a life DeChambeau wanted, yet felt destined to exist just beyond his grasp. He admitted as much after shooting 67 to take a three-stroke lead going into the final round.

“Just thinking back three years ago, the landscape was a lot different,” DeChambeau said. “I tried to show everybody who I was. I didn't do it the right way and could have done a lot of things better.”

He was always, when healthy, going to be good at golf. But when he and Brooks Koepka locked horns in a catty feud clearly fueled by elements of machismo and jealousy on both ends, it was definitive how quickly the public chose Koepka’s side.

Koepka, the world decided, was cool, even if he was occasionally cruel.

DeChambeau, on the other hand, seemed aggressively uncool.

Leaving the PGA Tour, then suing the PGA Tour, then taking digs at his old coworkers didn’t help his reputation either. DeChambeau was easy for most people to root against, and a lot of people were happy to do it. He was, for a stint, willing to play the villain. So he was treated like one. He didn’t wear the role well.

“It's not a regret, It's a learning experience,” DeChambeau said. “I never regret anything in life. Do I not like what I did? Absolutely. But every moment that I live in this life, I'm always trying to learn from my mistakes. That's the best thing I can say to anyone out there that's struggling essentially, to say, Hey, if you're in a bad spot, get some good people around you, give yourself a new perspective on life, and get after it and show them who you truly are.”

Coming back from that reputational nadir has been a gradual process, but anyone who was on the ground Saturday for the third round would likely attest that his comeback is now complete. Whatever errors DeChambeau may have made in the past, they have been mostly forgotten. And not just because he’s on the verge of majors winning again, although that certainly doesn’t hurt. It’s the way he’s going about it.

He is — to put it succinctly — great theater.

Every time DeChambeau nuked a drive or rolled in a putt, the roars of applause rippled across the fairways like summer thunder. From the grandstands and the rope lines, the crowd showered him with love, chatting “USA! USA!” or meaningless quips like “Use the Pythagorean Theorem, Bryson!” and “Make an albatross!” He egged it on at every turn.

DeChambeau thrashed the air with uppercuts and jabs after he made birdies and raised his arms like a preacher trying to rile up his congregation as he walked off tee boxes. He even paused to sign an autograph in the middle of the round, something bizarre and delightful at the same time.

Part of what made DeChambeau’s golf on Saturday so fun to watch is that it wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t sharp with his irons, and he was having all kinds of issues with his hips, even getting treatment under some trees during the middle of the round at one point. “I've just been pushing myself a little bit, pushing the horse a bit,” DeChambeau said. “Consequently that's going to happen.”

But he just kept attacking, blistering drives like he was about to come flying out of his spikes, then rolling in putts when he did hit his approaches close. When you watch Rory McIlroy or Ludvig Aberg play golf, you can lull yourself into thinking the perfect golf swing requires balance and rhythm, flexibility and artistic expression. Then you watch Bryson DeChambeau and you think: Actually none of that shit matters, I just want to be entertained by fearless aggression.

DeChambeau’s shot into 17 on Saturday was a perfect example. On 16, after missing the green short, he made his one glaring mistake of the day, chunking a chip that trickled back off the green. He couldn’t get up and down, took a double bogey, and suddenly a four-shot lead was only two strokes. Instead of making a conservative swing, he fired right at a dangerous pin, carried the front bunker by maybe a yard, and watched his ball stop 11 feet from the cup. He rolled in the birdie putt and the place went nuts.

“It just gives me a spike in my adrenaline and allows me to focus more on delivering for the fans and for myself and for my family,” DeChambeau said. “It just inspires me.”

If you’re one of those fans who remains unmoved, who still believes McIlroy or Patrick Cantlay or even Matthieu Pavon would be a better outcome on Sunday, there is still hope for you. The U.S. Open always has the potential to surprise. McIlroy won’t be the sentimental favorite for the first time in many years, and that role may serve him well as he chases an elusive 5th major, having gone 0-36 since he won two in 2014.

But we also might be on the cusp of DeChambeau’s magnum opus, his chance to thrill and entertain you at the same time. This is far more interesting than watching him dismantle Winged Foot without fans. This is like an action movie and a comedy at the same time. Late Saturday, DeChambeau was asked a question about his habit of soaking his golf balls in Epsom salts just so he can make certain that the core of the golf ball isn’t off-center.

“Thank you for the salty balls question,” DeChambeau said. “I appreciate it.”

It was a corny joke, probably even a dumb joke, but let’s not fun police it. It was also the perfect Bryson joke, meant to be eaten up by 13-year-old boys who might be falling in love with golf through YouTube clips instead of country clubs. That feels like a win for the sport.

Whatever happens, DeChambeau has found his tribe. On Sunday, they may get a chance to celebrate their king.

Kevin Van Valkenburg is the Editorial Director of No Laying Up

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