By Christopher Powers
When The Match between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau was announced on October 5, it felt like poor timing. A week earlier at the Ryder Cup, the two hugged it out, Ari Gold-style. Beef squashed. Feud over. Whatever juice this thing had was squeezed out the moment these so-called enemies embraced at Whistling Straits.
In the fight game, a loss of juice like that is a death knell. Without seemingly real hatred between both parties, the interest level from a fan’s perspective is almost non-existent. That’s not ideal for a made-for-TV event on the Friday of Thanksgiving week, some would say.
Now that we’re just four days away, Koepka and DeChambeau are working to change that, each dialing up the hate machine to 11 ahead of their 12-hole tilt like a couple of prized fighters. Sometimes that can come off as fake or forced ahead of a heavyweight bout, but they both insisted that the only thing that was forced was the hug seen ’round the world in Wisconsin.
“I wouldn’t put much on a forced hug,” Koepka said on a conference call Monday night.
In a rare turn of events, DeChambeau agreed.
“It was definitely a little forced,” he said. “The team wanted us to do it, and to be honest I was surprised he did it. But I’m a guy that can put things behind me pretty quickly when you apologize and then we can move along. But it definitely felt forced, there wasn’t an apology or anything like that. Until I get an apology for what he’s said and what not, nothing will change.”
“This is all real on my end,” DeChambeau added. “It’s disgusting the way the guy has tried to knock me down. There’s no need for it in the game of golf, he’s just tried to knock me down at every angle, every avenue. For what reason, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because he’s jealous and wants to get a part of that PIP [Player Impact Program] money from the tour. That’s probably a part of it, because it was squashed until that was announced.”
A Koepka apology does not appear to be imminent, likely because Koepka wouldn’t even know what he’s apologizing for. He continues to insist that DeChambeau started it, twice breaking his trust by talking to his caddie Ricky Elliott on the range at the 2019 Northern Trust and by smack-talking him during a video game stream after the two had agreed to keep each other’s names out of each other’s mouths.
“I’ve said it like 10 different times,” Koepka said. “I’ve never really liked him. I think we played together maybe when he was an amateur at Augusta, that was the only time that I can think of that we ever played [together]. We didn’t get along there, didn’t get along since he got out [on tour], and then he said that stuff to Rick and I just thought it was crap. You don’t go ask my caddie to say something to me. Just come to me. Don’t be a little baby about it. I think he’s learned his lesson.”
DeChambeau claims he’ll have plenty to say to Koepka’s face on the course this Friday, which will be like dousing gasoline on Koepka’s hatred fire. Considering the fact he’s not going to change Koepka’s opinion on him, why not get your shots in?
“My first impression of [Brooks] was always like, he was a little cocky,” DeChambeau said. “A little like, ‘I’m too cool for this game.’ He’s kind of held up to those standards so far.
“For some reason he doesn’t like me. Whatever, it is what it is,” DeChambeau said. “I’m here to showcase and inspire kids to play a game in a unique way, and apparently he doesn’t like that.”
Shockingly, the two did find nice things to say about each other. Koepka says he admires how hard DeChambeau works, and the fact he revamped his body over the last few years and it translated to the course. DeChambeau praised Koepka for his ability to perform in nerve-wracking situations, specifically the majors.
The lovefest didn’t last too much longer.
“He’s been lacking a bit recently,” DeChambeau said, referring to Koepka’s two recent missed cuts. “I’m happy for him that he signed with Srixon, wink wink.”
“With all that’s gone on the last two years, eventually it was going to come to this,” Koepka said. “That way, somebody will have the bragging rights at the end of this and somebody won’t. I’ve already won the trash-talking point, I think that’s a given. So now it just comes down to playing golf, because obviously no one will [pair] us together. So we’ve got to do it on our own.”