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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After leaving a long birdie putt short on the 17th hole Sunday afternoon, Bryson DeChambeau put a new golf ball in play. It was fitting that, after he marked his new ball with permanent ink, he held it near his lips and blew on it. DeChambeau played with fire and was on fire during the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship.

Nobody did it better Sunday. Nobody played with more joie de vivre. Nobody was more beloved by the Louisville fans at Valhalla Golf Club than Bryson DeChambeau. Wait. What?!

How did we get here? How did Bryson, who was almost universally mocked during much of his time on the PGA Tour, suddenly become the golfer everyone on property was congregating behind as he tried to win what would have been his second major championship?

There are probably a number of different answers to that question, but at least one of them -- I can't believe I'm typing this -- is YouTube. DeChambeau's YouTube channel hosts videos with titles like, "random golf shot challenge with the chaos wheel" and "can I break 50 with a long drive champion?"

This content is compelling and engaging, and clearly, it is resonating with golf fans. DeChambeau even addressed it after his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship where he briefly shared the all-time scoring record to par until Xander Schauffele came through and beat it by one.

"Yeah, it's actually funny, YouTube has helped me understand [being a showman and celebrating big moments] a little bit more," he said. "When the moment comes, knowing what to do, what to say, how to act is really important. You know, when I was younger, I didn't understand what it was. 

"Yeah, I would have great celebrations and whatnot, but I didn't know what it meant and what I was doing it necessarily for. Now, I'm doing it a lot more for the fans and for the people around and trying to be a bit of an entertainer that plays good golf every once in a while."

An entertainer that plays good golf every once in a while.

DeChambeau is a bit of a pro golf throwback. Sure, the medium is different, but the message is the same. Sixty or seventy years ago, golfers used to supplement their meager purse winnings with exhibition matches and trick-shot clinics for the paying public. Their entertainment and their competitive golf may not have interacted, but they definitely fulfilled both duties, which no doubt spilled into one another.

The primary skill is different in each arena, but they certainly mesh together. Being a great golfer helps one thrive when making YouTube videos. And learning how to be good at making YouTube videos helps one thrive when performing for the masses on Saturdays and Sundays.

This is currently the intersection of DeChambeau, and like many others, I found it to be delightful. Part of why Bryson has always been a bit of a struggle -- in terms of fandom -- is because he always seemed confused about when he was supposed to compete and when he was supposed to entertain. Now? He has an outlet to do both. 

DeChambeau still has absurd moments like trying to win majors with 3D printed irons (which he used again this week just as he did at the Masters), beating balls in the dark at major championships and shooting the second-lowest score in the 164-year history of majors with what he called his "B" game. But that's all in the models, and in the right dosage, it can be endearing.

Yes, DeChambeau is somehow a fan favorite these days. I wouldn't have believed it if I wasn't there to see it myself, but it is true. He's always fancied himself an innovator and a trailblazer. What he probably didn't know is that. though the medium is modern, he is far more tantamount to golfers of yesteryear than he probably ever imagined.

Viktor Hovland is back

I did not believe in what Hovland brought to the table on Sunday. I thought the feel he had found would melt under pressure. Instead, it went the other way. It got better. This would have been impossible to envision even a week ago. Hovland himself said he considered withdrawing from the PGA Championship. And yet, he looked for much of the day like he was going to win the second major of 2024.

Why the quick turnaround after looking lost in the woods and finishing outside the top 10 in every start this year prior to this one? A return to coach Joe Mayo is probably one significant reason.

"When I went to see Joe earlier in the week, we had dinner, and I said, 'You don't look very concerned,'" Hovland disclosed on Saturday. "He had kind of pinpointed a feel that, as soon as I kind of kept working on that, it just got better immediately. And I thought this was potentially going to be a little bit of a project and maybe take six, eight weeks before I would see kind of immediate improvement.

"Yeah, that was kind of best-case scenario right there."

While it did not lead to a major win this week, Hovland now seems back on track for what I thought he would be this year: a major contender and somebody who gets his first in the next year and a half.

Another missed opportunity

It was all right in front of Rory McIlroy this week. He entered off of two consecutive victories in which his tee to green play seemed a lot more dialed in. He got the great side of the draw and had the tournament for the taking Friday afternoon. Instead of taking it, though, he shot 71; it was an uphill climb from there. That's a big miss for somebody who has said feels like he is chasing his first major all over again.

"Obviously started the week well, and then, I've obviously played decent over the weekend," he said Sunday. "As I said, that sort of six-hole stretch on the back nine yesterday, not being able to hole any putts, I'll probably rue that. Then the 71 on Friday, as well, was obviously not what I was looking for. Obviously put myself too far back. Overall playing solid, game is in good shape, and I've got a week off and then another busy stretch coming up."

The grace to be found here is that McIlroy filed for divorce on Monday and clearly has a lot going on personally. The counter? He blew away the field at the Wells Fargo Championship just one week ago. McIlroy remains as fascinating to discuss as ever, but as the major drought now nears 10 full calendar years, he is officially running out of chances in the prime of his career to add to that four-major total.

The stolen slam?

Scottie Scheffler shot his first round over par in 266 days on Saturday, just over 24 hours after being put in handcuffs and throw in jail for what seemed like a total misunderstanding as he tried to drive through the entrance to the golf course Friday morning. On the come down from that adrenaline rush, he looked lost on the golf course for the first time in forever. (He also played Saturday's third round without his regular caddie, who was attending his daughter's graduation.)

I can't help but wonder about what could have been if Scheffler had a normal week. Especially because I believe Scheffler is going to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst -- a course that sets up perfectly for him. If he doesn't get thrown in jail Friday, does he shoot 66-66 instead of 66-73? Does he win at Valhalla if not for the insane distraction of being arrested? Is the grand slam bid still alive if he has a normal four days at Valhalla?

Scheffler wouldn't go there Sunday.

"I got arrested Friday morning, and I showed up here and played a good round of golf, as well," he said. "So, I've been good throughout my career or I'd say that I've gotten better throughout my career of leaving the off-course distractions at home and kind of keeping a pretty quiet personal life, and this week obviously that was not the case. 

"I'm not going to sit here and say that I played poorly [Saturday] because of what happened on Friday. I just had a bad day out on the course and was proud of how I came out here and bounced back today."

This topic will be discussed long after the dust settles on the 106th PGA Championship. It was, from my vantage point, one of the craziest days in the history of major golf, and its effect on the best player in the world -- and his quest to win all four majors -- was unfortunate, preposterous and totally wacky. 

Unfortunately for Scheffler -- at least from my vantage point -- it's also undeniable.

Justin Thomas' maturation

I was struck this week by the way J.T. reflected on his childhood and his upbringing. Reminiscing like this often brings about gratitude, and it seemed to do that for the 30-year-old Thomas over the weekend. 

"This week has exceeded all my expectations," said Thomas after shooting 67 in Round 3. "It's been better. It's been more fun. It's been more enjoyable than anything I really thought or could have imagined. I mean, I'm very, very excited for [Sunday], and it should be a lot of fun. I'm pretty bummed that the week is almost over. Just enjoy [Sunday] as much as I can and see what happens."

All of this on the heels of an emotional reception of a reception he received from the city a few weeks ago.

It's always compelling to view the emotional, vulnerable side of different players. And while we've seen that from Thomas -- at least from a screaming and yelling standpoint at Ryder Cups and team events -- we haven't seen it like this from a gratitude and joy perspective. 

This week was wonderful and seemed to have quite an effect on him as a person as his tears on Sunday when he walked off the golf course indicated.

Rick Gehman, Greg DuCharme, Patrick McDonald and Mark Immelman recap the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.