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Hype, History, Hullabaloo surround the Bryson vs. Brooks Vegas Showdown

Following separate media video sessions Monday prior to Capital One’s “The Match” at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, both Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau confirmed that they don’t like each other. Either that or they are taking a page out of the very successful Las Vegas mega-fight promotion playbook.

Following the Ryder Cup, when Brooks and Bryson hugged it out during the American team’s victory celebration, it seemed to be a symbol that that their feud was subsiding as they prepared for Capital One’s “The Match” in Las Vegas, scheduled for Friday at Wynn Las Vegas at 4 p.m. EST and live on TNT.

But after witnessing the media availability of the two leading up to the big event, it appears they truly don’t like each other. If there was any softening of the relationship, the words uttered by each on Monday could possibly take their dislike to whole ‘nother level.

The other alternative is that they have become seasoned hype men spewing made-for-TV rhetoric to drive eyeballs to the post-Thanksgiving grudge match. After all, the match will be played in Las Vegas, the fight promotion capital of the world. The manner in which Koepka and DeChambeau spoke on Monday would make combat sports legends and grade-A promotors Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor very proud.

“The Match” may still be a couple days away, but the theatrics and Vegas-style “pre-fight” promotion is very much in full swing.

“I think I've said it like 10 different times, I mean, I've never really liked him,” Koepka said. “… He said that stuff to (my caddie) Rick and I just thought it was crap. You don't go ask my caddy to go say something to me; come find me. Don't be a little baby about it. I think he's learned his lesson.”

Thousands of words could be written about the feud and what started it and where it stands. It’s a bit confusing to completely understand its genesis. It’s also safe to wonder if all of the talk is 100 percent real or is it mostly hyperbole used to drive interest on social media and more television viewers.

“No, it's real,” said DeChambeau, when asked what percentage of the discussion is real and what is hype. “This is all real from my end, at least. 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 has been trying to knock me down at every angle, every avenue, every way. For what reason? I don't know. Maybe it's because he's jealous. The (PIP money) is probably a part of it because it was kind of squashed earlier this year until the PIP program was announced. It was like, ‘whoa, all right, why is he trying to do this?’”

The “PIP” reasoning mentioned by DeChambeau refers to the PGA Tour’s $40 million dollar Player Impact Program that measures publicity, promotion and social media presence for players. The top 10 at year’s end receive a hefty bonus, and Koepka’s social media posts about DeChambeau have most assuredly moved the needle.

There is no question that after Monday’s comments, more people will watch “The Match”, and the candid comments could lead to some genuinely awkward moments on live television. DeChambeau said he is ready for the on-course trash talking, should Koepka bring it.

“I think it will be historic and it will be the first time a real rivalry, other than Tiger and Phil, comes to hopefully a bit of a conclusion, or maybe it won’t,” DeChambeau said. “This is the first time where it's really been hyped up to this level and where there has been a disdain for each other. Maybe we'll be able to have a rivalry kind of bashed out on the golf course. It’s not going to be a boxing match, but it'll definitely be something to be seen, for sure.”

Koepka appreciates the history of Las Vegas as a major event town and the connection between this match and previous Vegas event moments, even if he isn’t entirely knowledgeable about the historic details. In 1953, the inaugural PGA Tour Tournament of Champions was played on the grounds of what is now reimagined Wynn golf course. Al Besselink won $10,000 and he TOC was arguably the Tour’s biggest event this side of a major championship. The tournament promotion included a wheel barrow full of silver dollars, showgirls, celebrities and plenty of Vegas glitz and glam.

“I'd heard that they had played the tournament out there years and years ago, but what you just told me (about the event in 1953) is the most research I know,” Koepka said. “But that's pretty sweet and pretty cool. I played the golf course once or twice just messing around when I've been out there. It's a lot of fun and I love the fact that you're actually on the strip. What better place could there be for this match? Like you said, every other big showdown happens out here, so this should be fun.”

It appears Brooksy and Bryson won’t be enjoying a Vegas “Friendsgiving” together before the match. Or maybe they will share a turkey and bask in the hype they have created. After all, this is Vegas and no city in the world knows how to create hype and hoopla like the city that glitters.

“With all the stuff that's gone on over the past two years, it eventually would come to this,” Koepka said. “Somebody will get the bragging rights at the end of this and somebody who won’t. I think I've already won the trash talking and I think that's a given. At this point now, it just comes down to playing golf because obviously no one would pair us together. So, we had to do it on her own.”

Real or hype or somewhere in between, let’s get ready to rumble, Vegas golf style.