'Fair game': Koepka and DeChambeau feud won't go away

·7-min read

Brooks Koepka has made it abundantly clear he doesn't like Bryson DeChambeau. That should have no bearing in golf because they don't have to spend time together, which they don't do, and they haven't played together on the PGA Tour since the second round at Bay Hill two years ago.

Maybe it will be different when they are U.S. teammates in the Ryder Cup in September.

Or maybe not.

“You realize it's only a week, right?” Koepka said Tuesday from the British Open. “I mean, look, I can put it aside for business. If we're going to be on the same team, I can deal with anybody in the world for a week. I'm not playing with him. I'm pretty sure we're not going to be paired together, put it that way.”

That constituted the latest “development” in a feud that began nearly two years ago and took a bizarre, public turn with a leaked Golf Channel video in May that was never aired, and the pot shots just keep coming.

“He can say whatever he wants,” DeChambeau said, sounding weary of the questions.

The only revelation Tuesday was Koepka giving a little more detail on the origin of the beef.

Koepka's caddie, Ricky Elliott, was on the putting green at Liberty National in August 2019 when DeChambeau walked by and saw him chatting with two reporters, one of whom had been asking him questions the previous day about being criticized for slow play.

(While Koepka is unreservedly vocal about pace of play, the topic of this particular conversation was often how Koepka actually heeds his caddie's advice).

DeChambeau made a beeline for the group. He told Elliott to pass along to Koepka that if there were any issues, Koepka should talk to DeChambeau. Koepka arrived a short time later and did just that.

“We both agreed we’d leave each other out of it and wouldn’t mention each other, just kind of let it die off, wouldn’t mention each other’s names, just go about it,” Koepka said.

And then DeChambeau, playing a video game that was streaming live, poked fun at Koepka for not having any abs in a photo shoot for ESPN's “Body Issue” magazine.

“So now it's fair game,” Koepka said.

Fair or not, it's definitely a game. Meanwhile, the British Open begins Thursday, the final major championship of the year. The Ryder Cup is Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straights. No, they probably won't be partners, although DeChambeau said he would not be opposed.

“I think would be kind of funny actually,” DeChambeau said. “I think we’d do well, to be honest. It would create a little interesting vibe for the team or for the guys we’re playing against.”

YEAR OF THE COMEBACK

It's one thing for Lucas Glover to be the sixth player in this 40s to have won on the PGA Tour this season, with Stewart Cink doing it twice.

Perhaps even more unusual was winning at that age after going so long without.

Glover won the John Deere Classic on Sunday to end 10 years and two months without a victory. He became the fifth player this year to go at least seven years since his last victory.

The longest span belonged to Cink, whose victory in the Safeway Open last September was his first since capturing the British Open at Turnberry in 2009.

Brian Gay (Bermuda Championship), Martin Laird (Las Vegas) and Harris English (Sentry Tournament of Champions) had all gone more than seven years. English went on to win again at the Travelers Championship.

Glover never lost his belief or his perspective.

“Every week is a new week. Every swing is a new swing. Every stroke is a new stroke,” he said. “I show up next week in England, and we're all tied on Thursday again. It doesn't matter what you did the week before or the year before of 10 years before. That's a new week.”

ASLEEP ON HISTORY

Brooks Koepka had just finished his junior year at Florida State in 2011, the last time the British Open was held at Royal St. George's. This week is the second time he has seen it.

Koepka said his mother took him and his brother, Chase, on a U.K. golfing holiday in 2003 for a taste of links golf. They played Carnoustie and St. Andrews. And then they had tickets for the final round of the British Open at Royal St. George's.

And what a day it was. Tiger Woods was in contention, two shots behind.

“Tiger was playing on 13 and my brother had said something and Tiger said something back to him, and we thought it was the coolest thing at the time,” Koepka said.

Not so cool was missing the finish. Koepka is famous for saying he is more focused in the majors than other tournaments. Apparently that's only if he's playing them, not watching.

“I ended up falling asleep right in the little pavilion to the right of 18 and didn’t even see the finish,” he said. “I remember getting yelled at by my mom, ‘I didn’t bring you over here to fall asleep,' kind of deal. But it was fun. We enjoyed the whole trip.”

OPEN TEE TIMES

Get ready for the longest day in golf. Richard Bland of England was selected to hit the opening tee shot in the British Open at 6:35 a.m. local time. Nicholas Poppleton will be the last to tee off at roughly 4:20 p.m.

The R&A selected three players from England for the opening tee time on Thursday and Friday. Bland will be playing with Andy Sullivan and Marcus Armitage. For the second round, the opening time goes to the English trio of Aaron Rai, Paul Waring and Daniel Croft.

Being first off can go either way, based on recent history.

Hennie Otto of South Africa was in the first group at Royal St. George's in 2003, and he led after the first round with a 68 (he finished the week in a tie for 10th). In 2011, all three players in the opening group — Jerry Kelly, Nathan Green and Danny Willett — missed the cut.

Defending champion Shane Lowry plays with U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen, a runner-up in the last two majors.

Justin Thomas plays with Tommy Fleetwood, which comes with this odd piece of history: Thomas made his professional debut at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2013 and was paired with Fleetwood.

Rory McIlroy is in the same group as Patrick Reed. They had a wild Ryder Cup match at Hazeltine in 2016, which Reed won. This is their first time playing together in a major since the final group at the Masters in 2018. Reed won that, too.

DIVOTS

The European Tour and Sunshine Tour have created a partnership in which the South African Open will be a co-sanctioned European Tour through 2025 with prize money of $1.5 million. Officials say more South African events will count toward the European Tour. ... Brooks Koepka has limited his four-person bubble to himself, his caddie, his physical therapist and his manager. That meant leaving the chef at home. “The cooking definitely is not as good," he said. "We're trying our best, but it's not as good as she would make it.” ... John Daly is playing the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, even though he is eligible for the British Open as a past champion. The PGA Tour regulations involving opposite-field events only apply to limited fields that don't have a cut.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Dustin Johnson is No. 1 in the world going into a major for the 15th time. Only two other players have been No. 1 at more majors — Tiger Woods (55) and Greg Norman (24).

FINAL WORD

“I ended up winning the FedEx Cup in 2019, so it gave me a few million reasons to feel better.” — Rory McIlroy on how much it bothered him to miss the cut in the British Open in 2019 in his native Northern Ireland. He won $15 million for the FedEx Cup a month later.

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