LA JOLLA, Calif — As Bryson DeChambeau stood in a waist-deep sand trap on the par-5 18th at Torrey Pines, contemplating whether to go for the green in two, the Brooksy Bros came out in full force.
“Go get ‘em Brooksy!” one yelled.
“Brooks would go for it!” screamed another.
DeChambeau never took the bait.
With a pond covering the front of the green, and only two players above him on the leaderboard at the 121st U.S. Open, DeChambeau pulled out a short iron and did something he’s basically allergic to — he laid up.
A par followed, which is pretty much a bogey in his world, but he’ll live to see another day — in this case Sunday, with a very good chance at becoming just the eighth back-to-back winner of the national championship, and first since … Brooks Koepka.
A lot has been made of this budding rivalry born out of one man’s dislike of the other (in this case, Koepka’s very public distaste for DeChambeau). Thing is, there’s not much there there, at least not yet. One meme-producing video does not a rivalry make.
Still, fans seem to have broken into two camps. On the one side you have the Bryson Backers, urging him to “be you,” you being a maniacal perfectionist who practices in the dark and dreams about swing fixes. On the other are the aforementioned Brooksy Bros, who appear to mostly be beer-drinking buds full of liquid courage who think yelling "Brooksy" at Bryson is some sort of putdown.
“I love it,” DeChambeau said after Saturday’s round … and what else is he going to say? “People think that it annoys me. If anything, it just creates a great atmosphere for golf.
“There's going to be Team Bryson, Team Brooks out there, and hey, keep it up, I'm happy about it. I'm excited that one day we can eventually get paired up and play together. It would be fun.”
It would be, and there was certainly that possibility coming out of Saturday’s round, except only one of them upheld his end of the bargain.
The two started Round 3 at even par. That’s where Koepka finished. DeChambeau, meanwhile, was firing on all but one of his cylinders, launching bombs at fairways, shooting darts at greens and … making the occasional putt.
When he stepped onto the 18th tee he was 3-under for the day, just three back of Russell Henley … and thinking eagle, birdie at worst. He grabbed his driver, he huffed, he puffed and uncorked the reason there is a Team Bryson — a 332-yard bomb.
That it trickled into the fairway bunker took some of the air out of the place. That he chose not to go for the green took even more. But it was the smart play.
Team Bryson may not be here for laying up, but they are here for lifting trophies, and DeChambeau, just two back of a trio of players (Henley, Mackenzie Hughes and Louis Oosthuizen) is in contention.
“That's what you've got to do,” he explained. “You've got to be really patient out here at these majors. It's something that is not easy to do. My first few goes at majors, I was not successful or anywhere near successful, and I feel like I'm starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level. If I can continue to do that tomorrow, I think I'll have a good chance.”
And if he’s lifting the trophy coming Sunday afternoon, what are the Brooksy Bros going to say then?
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