The Bryson DeChambeau/Brooks Koepka fued continues…
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File
Rory McIlroy’s camp was drawn into golf’s “Big Feud” in the build-up to the US Open after his putting coach claimed that Bryson DeChambeau had turned down a request by the major’s organisers to play with nemesis Brooks Koepka in the opening two rounds at Torrey Pines.
As if the ongoing spat needed any more fuel for the fire, Brad Faxon, the former Ryder Cup player and McIlroy confidante, chucked it on anyway with his comments on the official PGA Tour Radio.
“I found out that the USGA [United States Golf Association] actually did call Bryson DeChambeau and his agent, and asked them if they would be OK with that,” Faxon said, after being asked about a possible DeChambeau-Koepka pairing in the season’s third major. “But Bryson declined.”
DeChambeau’s management were quick to shoot down Faxon’s claims. The defending champion might have asked security at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago to evict spectators who were shouting “go Brooksy” at him – with Koepka not even playing in Ohio – but the 27 year-old was apparently not precious enough to swerve his rival.
“The USGA did not reach out to Bryson regarding a potential pairing the first two rounds with Brooks Koepka,” Brett Falkoff, DeChambeau’s agent, said. “Bryson is fully focused on defending the US Open at Torrey Pines this week.”
The USGA also issued its denial – “Bryson was not asked,” Craig Annis, the governing body’s brand manager, said – but that did not begin to douse the heat on what is, bizarrely, the US Open’s predominant storyline.
It was Koepka’s turn to then walk into the media centre, stern-faced as if he was starring in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to deliver his thoughts. “I was not asked about playing with Gary Woodland nor Bryson,” Koepka said about the possibility of the last three US Open winners being grouped.
Would he have enjoyed it if the USGA had gone box office? “It doesn’t matter to me,” Koepka said, his Lee Van Cleef gaze intensifying. “Play my own game. I don’t care who I’m paired with. What happens inside the ropes, it doesn’t bother me.”
Then, 30 minutes later, it was DeChambeau in the seat, smiling and laughing. “I would be OK with that [being paired with Koepka], but there was never really anything that went through me,” he said. “It’s great banter. I personally love it. I hope at the weekend we can play against each other and compete. I think it would be fun and would be great for the game.”
- Steve Stricker asks Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka to sort out their issues ‘like big boys’ before Ryder Cup
Koepka had stated the same in his press conference. “The fact that golf’s been on pretty much every news outlet for about two weeks pretty consistently, I think that’s a good thing. It’s growing the game,” Koepka said.
“You know, the younger generation – I get the traditionalists who don’t agree with it. I understand that, but I think to grow the game you’ve got to reach out to the younger generation, and I think that’s what – I don’t want to say that’s what this is, but it’s reaching out to a whole bunch of people. It’s getting golf in front of people.”
One of those who it has “got golf in front of” is Steve Stricker, the US Ryder Cup captain, who has revealed its displeasure. “It’s not exactly making my job easier, is it?” he said. DeChambeau was asked about that. “I personally think, when we’re on a team, we’re going to be on a team and it’s going to be a different atmosphere,” he said. “We are players competing individually on an individual basis out here, and I think we banter back and forth in good fun, but when it comes time to play on a team, it will be different.”
For the record, the USGA has sent out Koepka in the first round at 7.29am local time off the 10th hole and DeChambeau at 1.14pm, off the first hole. No, they will not be having evening dinner together.