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HomeSportFootballDeChambeau v Koepka - the biggest rivalry in golf or just banter?

DeChambeau v Koepka – the biggest rivalry in golf or just banter?

Brooks Koepka (left) and Bryson DeChambeau
Brooks Koepka (left) and Bryson DeChambeau shared a lighter moment promoting an event in January
Venue: Torrey Pines, California Date: 17-20 June
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 22:00 BST. Live text commentary from 14:30 BST

Bryson DeChambeau says it would be “great for the game” if he played with Brooks Koepka at this week’s US Open.

The pair have been in an ongoing feud over the past couple of years which has increased in recent weeks, although DeChambeau has called it “banter”.

The latest chapter has seen Koepka post a video on social media offering free beers to fans ejected from the Memorial Tournament for heckling DeChambeau.

World number five DeChambeau said: “We banter back and forth in good fun.”

There had been rumours that the United States Golf Association (USGA) had approached DeChambeau about being paired with Koepka for the first two rounds at Torrey Pines in California, but the defending champion said that was not the case and they were placed on opposite sides of the draw.

“I would be OK with that, but there was never really anything that went through me,” said 27-year-old DeChambeau, who will play with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2020 US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci.

“I think that, as time goes on, I hope on the weekend we can play against each other and compete. I think it would be fun and would be great for the game.”

And the world number five insists that all will be well should both players be in the US Ryder Cup team to face Europe at Whistling Straits in September.

US captain Steve Stricker said on the Golf Channel last week that he was unhappy to see two of his key players “going back and forth on social media”.

“I’m sure those two guys will be on the team, so it’ll be up to me to kind of pull them aside, hopefully get them together and make it good for everybody,” he added.

However, DeChambeau said: “We’re players competing individually on an individual basis out here but when it comes time to play on a team, it will be different.”

Koepka v DeChambeau

Their simmering rivalry seemingly began in January 2019 with Koepka saying he didn’t “understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds to hit a golf ball” and “it really drives me nuts” after watching video footage of DeChambeau going through some calculations before hitting a shot.

DeChambeau defended his approach pointing out “the Rules of Golf allow for a certain amount of time, and we’re (using it) to our fullest potential”.

Since then, DeChambeau has bulked up significantly, adding 40lbs of muscle to his body in an effort to hit the ball further and their “back and forth” on social media has increased in the past few weeks.

It began with leaked footage of Koepka appearing to be distracted by DeChambeau in an unaired interview at last month’s US PGA Championship in which the former went on to criticise the latter.

And then on 26 May, two-time US Open winner Koepka posted a message on Twitter that read “Sorry bro @AaronRodgers12” after the NFL quarterback had been paired with DeChambeau for ‘The Match’ against Phil Mickelson and another NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

DeChambeau responded by saying he was “living rent free” in Koepka’s head so Koepka retweeted a video of a fan calling DeChambeau “Brooksie” during a practice round at the US PGA Championship.

And then on 15 June, 31-year-old Koepka tweeted a video message in which he thanked fans for their support at the Memorial Tournament despite him not playing.

A number of spectators were escorted from Muirfield Village for shouting “Brooksy” at DeChambeau.

Four-time major winner Koepka reacted to the news by posting a video on social media offering to reimburse any spectator whose day was “cut short” with a free case of beer.

“Shoot, people saying Brooksy’s name out there, I love it. I think it’s hilarious,” said DeChambeau on Tuesday.

Koepka, ranked 10th in the world, believes it is “good for the game”, adding “it’s bringing new eyeballs. It has pretty much been on every news channel.

“Everything you look at online, it has got this in the headline or it’s up there as a big news story. To me, that’s growing the game.”

Their feud may end up helping both players win a slice of the PGA Tour’s new $40m (£28.8m) fund, which will be split by 10 golfers to “recognise and reward players who positively move the needle” by generating coverage for the sport.

The biggest share, $8m, will go to the individual deemed most valuable.

DeChambeau not changing his approach

The USGA tend to set courses up with narrow fairways, penal rough and fast-running greens for their national championship.

However, the big-hitting American has pledged to use the same “bomb and gouge” approach at Torrey Pines that saw him power his way to a six-shot victory at Winged Foot in last September’s delayed playing of the 2020 US Open.

“I try to be as aggressive as possible,” he said. “I feel like it’s a little bit similar [here] to Winged Foot, albeit the grass and the rough is a little thicker. It’s a different type of grass, so you can’t get through it as easily.

“For the most part, I’m going to be trying to bomb it as much as possible and try to gouge it out when I don’t hit it in the fairway.

“If I can keep hitting it to the front of the greens, two-putting when I get into trouble, I’m going to give myself a great chance this week. When I hit it in the fairway, I have to take advantage of those holes, have to take advantage of the par fives out here.

“If I can do those two things, I feel like I’ll have a great chance at contending.”

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