Rory McIlroy admitted he was surprised by the manner of Bryson DeChambeau's six-stroke victory at the U.S Open as the former world number one hinted at another big Masters win for the powerful American.
DeChambeau claimed his maiden major crown following a dominant display at Winged Foot, where he carded a final-round 67 to top the leaderboard ahead of overnight leader Matthew Wolff on Sunday.
A topic of discussion on the PGA Tour after his weight gain and smash approach, DeChambeau only hit six fairways on the final day and 23 for the week in New York as he was the only player in the red following 72 holes.
"I don't really know what to say because that's just the complete opposite of what you think a U.S. Open champion does," four-time major champion McIlroy, who finished tied for eighth at six over, told reporters. "Look, he's found a way to do it.
"Whether that's good or bad for the game, I don't know, but it's not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It's kind of hard to really wrap my head around it."
"I played with him at Colonial [the Charles Schwab Challenge] the first week back out, but I sort of said, okay, wait until he gets to a proper golf course, he'll have to rein it back in," continued McIlroy, who closed the tournament with a five-over-par 75.
"This is as proper as they come, and look what's happened. Yeah, he's got full belief in what he's doing, and it's pretty impressive."
Asked if he was concerned ahead of the rescheduled Masters at Augusta in November, McIlroy said: "I don't shudder, but if he can do it around here, and I'm thinking of Augusta and thinking of the way you sort of play there.
"I stood up here a few weeks ago and said the game's moved on a lot in the last 14 years since the U.S. Open's been played here, and you're seeing what the game has become, what he's doing out there."
"I think it's brilliant," McIlroy said. "But I think he's taken advantage of where the game is at the minute. Look, again, whether that's good or bad, but it's just the way it is. With the way he approaches it, with the arm-lock putting, with everything, it's just where the game's at right now.
"I'm not saying that's right or wrong. He's just taking advantage of what we have right now."