Their feud or whatever is either allegedly over or secretly on hold for a couple of weeks while Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka act like they’re teammates whether or not they’re actually sincere.
But while the two of them aren’t being mentioned in the same sentence very often lately, separately, they are creating their own individual havoc on the eve of the Ryder Cup that begins in a week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. In case anyone needs reminding, Europe has won seven of the last nine matches.
Koepka’s interview with Golf Digest hit the internet this week and it’s his attitude about the Ryder Cup that lit up social media and, as a result, everyone is talking.
“It’s different,” he said to Matthew Rudy. “It’s hectic. It’s a bit odd, if I’m honest. I don’t want to say it’s a bad week. We’re just so individualized, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it’s like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It’s the opposite of what happens during a major week.”
“It’s tough,” he went on. “There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me? I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things.”
Miles away from the words of a selfless, all-in, playing-for-your-country teammate. Besides what he said, it was what he didn’t do that perhaps was the most revealing.
When U.S. captain Steve Stricker announced his six picks last Wednesday, he said the team would have a practice round at Whistling Straits the following Monday and made it a point of emphasis that “from what I understand, all the players and all the caddies will be here.
“I don't know if that's ever happened in any other previous Ryder Cup where we've been all able to assemble at the venue before it actually takes place,” Stricker said.
Come Monday, there was one notable absence. Koepka not only embarrassed his captain, he made Stricker look and sound as if he’s not in control of his team. Not to mention what the rest of the team must be thinking. How much effort would it have taken for Koepka to fly to Wisconsin to join his teammates?
If he wasn’t ready to play, he could have walked the course with a putter and a couple of balls. Just showing up would have made the announcement that Koepka was 100 percent invested in his team and in the matches.
Koepka’s interview immediately raised the antenna of NBC’s Paul Azinger, who was also the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain – one of only two winning captains since 1999.
“I’m not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said of Koepka during a media call for NBC. "If he doesn’t love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup.
"Not everybody embraces it. But if you don’t love it, and you’re not sold out, then I think Brooks should, you know, especially being hurt, consider whether or not he really wants to be there."
Koepka, who withdrew from the Tour Championship with a wrist injury, declared in a text message to Golfweek 's Eamon Lynch on Wednesday night that he’s healthy and will play next week.
“They’re gonna put the weight of the team on their shoulders or they’re gonna be a pain in the neck," said Azinger of Koepka and DeChambeau, who probably had a different part of the anatomy in mind.
Instead of preparing for the Northern Trust, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, DeChambeau was in Newton Grove, N.C., a town of fewer than 600 people in largely rural Sampson County at a place called Bobby Peterson’s One Stop Power Shop.
DeChambeau was training and gleaning information from some of the nation’s biggest hitters while training for the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship in Mesquite, Nev. – the day after the Ryder Cup ends.
“My hands are wrecked from it,” DeChambeau told Golf.com.
Remarkably, it didn’t wreck his whole game. In fact, he lost a six-hole playoff to Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship and was seventh at the Tour Championship. It’s his perception of his occupation that creates concern, especially on the eve of one of such a monumental event.
“It’s totally different from the environment on Tour,” he said of the high-speed, high-decibel, hard-rock atmosphere of long driving events. “I appreciate and respect (the PGA Tour) environment, but the long drive environment is tailored more to what I like to do because you can say things and do things that are a little different than out here (on Tour).”
Stricker is bound to be losing sleep and patience in equal parts. The enduring criticism of the U.S. teams has been that they are merely a collection of talented individuals, incapable due to ego or inconvenience of caring enough about the Ryder Cup — or about any other player than themselves.
And somewhere, 12 European players and their captain are laughing like hell.