Bryson the great entertainer but Valhalla is not major championship standard

Ronan MacNamara

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Should somebody be able to shoot twenty-under-par in a major championship with their ‘B’ game?

Wide and easy to hit fairways, minimal consequence for missing in the wrong spots and soft greens. The PGA Championship was target practice for the elite. Darts.

One of the worst major championships I have ever seen was saved by two things. 1. One of the most exciting finishes in recent memory. 2. Bryson DeChambeau. OK, maybe Shane Lowry’s 62 on Saturday, but still, for a long time Valhalla was boring.

As much as I enjoyed seeing Xander Schauffele wrestle the Wanamaker Trophy away from DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland coming down the stretch, birdie fests in major championships just don’t do it for me.

That’s not to say I want everyone to be struggling to win at around level-par, but this golf course was far too easy.

Flat greens, wide fairways and soft conditions is your rank and file PGA Tour event. The course set up was wrong, keeping the rough manageable and the greens soft.

None of the holes capture the imagination either.

The PGA Championship has long been regarded as the lesser of the four majors but a move to a permanent May slot on the schedule has seen it develop some grandeur.

Thrilling events with some tough scoring have given this major the teeth that it had been missing. But a return to Valhalla for the first time – and hopefully last – since 2014 brought this major championship back to being a PGA Tour event on steroids.

Before Sunday, no major championship had seen multiple scores of 20-under or lower. Schauffele pipped Jason Day’s record of -20 with a 21-under-par score while the field had a 214-under-par combined total.

The previous best scoring in PGA Championship history was 40-over in 1995 at Riviera.

When Lowry shot his 62 it was obviously a great buzz for those of us this side of the Atlantic but I had instantly ruled him out of winning a second major on Sunday.

Why? How can you say that after he shot 62 on Saturday.

It’s already very hard to back up such a low score with another one and add to that the fact this was a birdie fest, to be able to keep the foot on the pedal for two straight days is incredibly difficult.

There was no teeth to the golf course. Nobody was going to lose this by collapsing. Bad golf shots went unpunished.

The casual golf fan may oppose this by pointing at the leaderboard and listing off the top class names inside the top-10.

Don’t get me wrong. This finish was a thriller. This was a thrilling Sunday. It mirrored 2014 for drama but that doesn’t mean that Valhalla is a good golf course.

Pars were bogeys and that’s not major championship golf.

Xander won the tournament but Bryson saved it.

Once much maligned for being the mad scientist, the extreme bunker and an incredibly slow golfer. Now he is the maverick, the man fuelled with a burst of emotion. Box office.

In a sport that is becoming more mundane, devoid of any true sense of passion. Bryson provides heart and soul in an arena filled with robots.

Even Schauffele to me, is a lifeless unremarkable character.

I have always had a soft spot for Bryson, often out of pity but now and even for quite a long time, I have been a Bryson fan.

Has DeChambeau refined himself since moving to LIV?

He may have been brash in his earlier years but I have always found him to be very respectful towards the game, in the way he appreciates golf history and the meaning of events but he never helped himself by blaming everything else but himself and the infamous par-67 comment at Augusta.

But that’s in the past. The present Bryson is a box-office phenomenon.

He is the showman golf has been praying for. The PGA Tour, PIF negotiations need to ensure this man returns to mainstream television.

Even those who respected him wouldn’t have gone much further than that. Now he is a fan favourite.

On LIV he is very interactive with the fans – when they show up – he is a refreshing personality and he had the crowd on side in Valhalla last week.

He sucks you in. Much like Rory McIlroy does only with Bryson you don’t expect heartache at the end of it, you expect entertainment regardless of the result.

He tosses golf balls to kids and reprimands shameless adults who attempted to nick them and run away. He engages with a young audience online in his content creation.

Dare I say he grows the game? Even if you hate him, there is a reason to hate. Isn’t that better than not liking Schauffele because he is just another one of the cloth?

Even at championships and events I have attended whether I liked him or not I always made an effort to check in on DeChambeau. Whether he is bombing drives at the JP McManus pro-am or hitting the wall on the road hole from the 3rd fairway at St Andrews he is an abundance of entertainment.

There are just under three weeks to go until the US Open at Pinehurst and I can’t wait to see Bryson play again.

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