They yelled his name from start to finish at the 2024 PGA Championship, and Bryson DeChambeau reciprocated with a show they had come to see, punctuated by a pirouette off his left foot with his hands reaching for the sky as his final putt disappeared. His celebration was too visceral to be choreographed and the same can be said for the guttural cry that putt produced. While that scene at Valhalla’s 18th may have been a surprise for those watching from home, the truth is that had been the sequence all afternoon, the California native and Texas resident turning Kentucky into a home game. As he departed the green and made his way through the human tunnel that was compressing with fans reaching out for a fist bump—many of which he supplied—the indelible, incontrovertible truth is this:

Golf needs Bryson back.

He didn’t win, through no fault of his own. Shooting a final-round 64 for a 20-under total, a score that would have tied the previous 72-hole tournament mark? All DeChambeau can do is tip his cap to the man who came out on top, Xander Schauffele. “I gave it my all. I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my B game would be enough,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just clearly somebody played incredibly well. Xander’s well deserving of a major championship and, yeah, emptying the tank, I certainly love to do that and give the fans everything I can.”

RELATED: Watch Bryson DeChambeau take a bow and rile up the crowd after holing out for eagle

But while not the champ, DeChambeau was the unquestioned main attraction Sunday.

He not only entertained but galvanized the thousands that followed, and they in turn returned the favour. He couldn’t make it more than 10 yards down the hill from the clubhouse to practice green before a “Let’s go Bryson!” was hollered his way, a shout that served as the soundtrack for most of his afternoon. It’s not unusual for crowds to cheer players as they make their trek around the course, but most keep their heads down, acknowledging those outside the ropes with a wave only after a good shot. DeChambeau? In-tune with the cries in his direction, because he returned most of them with a nod or audible “Thank you.” After his Saturday round, he took pictures and signed autographs for anyone who asked. For the better part of five years, DeChambeau has been known as a divisive figure yet you would’ve had a hell of a time explaining that to anyone in Louisville.

This hasn’t been the norm. At last year’s PGA Championship, DeChambeau was loudly booed on Oak Hill’s first tee in his Saturday pairing with Brooks Koepka. Crowds at the Open Championship the past two summers, where the fans are more in tune with the havoc golf’s civil war has wrought and only give forgiveness when it has been requested, have treated him with aggressive indifference. The patrons of the Masters do not have an appetite for the brashness of one who calls Augusta National a par 67. LIV Golf fans … well, three seasons into the schism it remains unclear if LIV has fans. DeChambeau has desperately craved attention since his arrival and, for the most part, the attention has not been of warmth but curiosity. But at Valhalla? Nothing but love.

No, he’s not quite the DeChambeau you remember. The Hogan cap is gone, his once-beefy profile now slimmed to a sinewy figure. His hat and shirt and bag are adorned with a skull and crossbones. But the fidgets and mighty lashes and the power are still there. So is the distance; DeChambeau had wedges into greens that his competitors attacked with 6-irons. It begets an aggressive mindset that makes every hole a birdie opportunity. It may not be nuanced or enlightened golf yet that muscle is a magnetic pull for a significant portion of the golf populace.

Main image: Patrick Smith