Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau hatred renewed

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SAN DIEGO — The golf world waited with anticipation on Tuesday to see if the USGA would place Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau in the same group for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open this week at Torrey Pines.

To the disappointment of many, the USGA stayed steered clear of the drama brewing between the two and paired DeChambeau, the defending champion, with reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Tyler Strafaci, and Koepka with Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.

Koepka’s disdain for DeChambeau became publicly evident shortly after the PGA Championship last month at Kiawah Island when an interview with the Golf Channel that never aired was leaked out, showing Koepka ridiculing DeChambeau and using profanity.

The issue escalated at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago when DeChambeau had some fans in the gallery calling him “Brooksy’’ and he reportedly complained to tournament officials to have them removed (an assertion DeChambeau denied).

Koepka, who was not playing in the tournament, playfully posted on social media that he was willing to give away free beer to any fans who were ejected from the Memorial for tweaking DeChambeau with the “Brooksy’’ taunts.

“I wouldn’t even characterize it as a conflict,’’ Koepka said Tuesday. “We don’t like each other. I mean, there’s plenty of people that you guys [reporters] work with that you guys don’t like, so I don’t see the difference.’’

Brooks Koepka is disgusted as Bryson DeChambeau interrupts an interview at PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka is disgusted as Bryson DeChambeau interrupts an interview at the PGA Championship.
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There was a report from former player Brad Faxon on SiriusXM radio that the USGA reached out to DeChambeau and asked if he would be OK being paired with Koepka and was rebuffed. Both DeChambeau and Koepka said no one from the USGA reached out to them to float that idea.

“I would be OK with that, but there was never really anything that went through me,’’ DeChambeau said Tuesday.

“I was not asked about playing with Bryson,’’ Koepka said. “I don’t care who I play with. It doesn’t matter. I’m focused on myself. It’s an individual sport, so you just got to worry about yourself.’’

Asked if he was bothered that the Golf Channel interview was leaked, Koepka insisted, “It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not too concerned. I don’t live with regret. It got out, not a big deal. And as far as perception [of his relationship with DeChambeau], I’m not really too concerned. I’m worried about what I’ve got to do and what I’m doing. I’m not concerned about what other people think.’’

DeChambeau has tried to make light of the supposed rift between him and Koepka, saying, “I think it’s fun.’’

“There’s a point where it’s great banter,’’ he said. “I personally love it. 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. Shoot, to be honest, people saying Brooksy’s name out there, I love it. I think it’s hilarious.’’

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka
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Asked if he’s bothered that no one has called Koepka “Bryson’’ yet, DeChambeau said, “I’m not worried at all. He’s older than me, and he’s won more majors than me [four to one]. Hey, I’ve got something to look up to.’’

Koepka has insisted that he believes the tension between him and DeChambeau “is good for the game.’’

“It’s bringing new eyeballs,’’ he said. “It’s pretty much been on every news channel. Pretty much everything you look at online, it’s got this in the headline, or it’s up there as a big news story. To me, that’s growing the game.

“You’re putting it in front of eyeballs, you’re putting it in front of people, the game of golf, who probably don’t normally look at golf, don’t play it, might get them involved. I don’t know how it’s not growing the game.’’

Jordan Spieth said there is “chatter’’ among the players about Brooks versus Bryson.

“I don’t really know how it all started,’’ Spieth said. “I don’t know where they’re at now. I don’t know the severity. They didn’t pair them this week and stuff like that, but I’m sure it will happen soon enough. Seems like people would be interested to watch that.’’

Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau
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Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion called the Koepka-DeChambeau back-and-forth “fun.’’

“I think they’ve got a rivalry now, and I think it’s good for the game,’’ Simpson said. “I think there used to be more rivals that became well-known. We don’t have that as much anymore. So, I think them kind of being open and honest is good in a way because we know kind of what they think.’’

Simpson then floated a conspiracy theory into the mix.

“I don’t know if they texted each other on the side and possibly went in agreement, ‘Let’s play this thing up for player impact program,’ ’’ he said, referring to a new incentive program created by the PGA Tour that rewards players’ popularity and attention brought to the tour. “That was kind of one of my thoughts. It would be fun to see them duel is out in a tournament here coming up, head-to-head on Sunday.’’

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