Torrey Pines has had its fair share of disputes over the years involving some of the best golfers. But not during a major as demanding as the US Open.
Remember 2003 at the Buick Invitational when Phil Mickelson was quoted in a magazine interview saying that Woods played with substandard gear and was the only player good enough to overcome “the gear he’s stuck with”.
They ended up in the final group with Brad Faxon, whose nickname that week was “Swiss,” and Woods had the last laugh with another victory at Torrey Pines.
Then there was Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. They got into a fight at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France when Reed criticized Spieth for not playing together in a loss to the United States. They played together in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open, and Spieth broke any tension by giving Reed a playful hug off the first tee.
Can anyone see Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka kissing this week?
“At this point, probably not,” Spieth said with a smile.
But this social media feud is different from the other two that took place at Torrey Pines, drawing so much attention that it became the main focus of this US Open.
The big development on Tuesday morning? Departure times have been announced.
No, they don’t play together.
DeChambeau and Koepka are on either side of the board and start at opposite ends of the course. There’s a chance they won’t even see each other this week, even though they were hard to miss. Koepka was wearing lime green shorts. DeChambeau trained in a bright red shirt and changed to a navy blue shirt for his interview so one of his sponsor logos was more visible.
Koepka has left little to the imagination when talking about their relationship.
“I don’t know if I would call it a conflict,” Koepka said. ” We do not love each other. There are a lot of people you don’t like. I don’t see any difference.
It dates back almost two years and reached a new level in the PGA Championship when a leaked Golf Channel interview that was never aired made its way to Twitter. Koepka ended the interview when he noticed DeChambeau walking behind him, rolled his eyes and used salty language to share his feelings about DeChambeau.
It was viewed over 10 million times before the video was taken down.
So began the comings and goings. DeChambeau was disturbed by fans yelling “Brooksy” at him at the Memorial (Koepka didn’t play that week). Koepka posted a video offering free beer from one of his sponsors to any fans who might have been kicked out.
The US Open begins Thursday, and both players will have enough trouble to face a southern course with dense, punishing rough that appears to be the toughest test in golf.
“It doesn’t matter to me what happens,” Koepka said. “It doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m out there trying to play my own game. What happens inside the ropes, I won’t mind.
DeChambeau described it as “a big joke”.
“I hope this weekend we can play against each other and compete,” said DeChambeau. “I think it would be fun and it would be great for the game.”
Faxon also found himself in the middle of it.
He said on SiriusXM that he found out that the USGA called DeChambeau and his agent to ask if it would be acceptable to put them in the same group, and that DeChambeau refused. This led to strong denials by DeChambeau’s agent and the USGA that such an appeal existed.
However, this corresponded to a player saying two weeks ago that DeChambeau told him the USGA had called to inquire about their set-up and that DeChambeau objected as it would take away the US Open.
The player spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press due to the sensitivity of the matter.
For an individual sport with so many personalities, it should come as no surprise that not everyone gets along. In golf, however, it is rarely that audience.
“I think they have a rivalry now, and I think it’s good for the game in the sense of the rivals,” said Webb Simpson. “I think they’re kind of open and honest, it’s good because we kind of know what they’re thinking. “
Simpson even wondered if they were doing this on purpose to improve their reach to fans, tapping into a $ 40 million bonus pool based on player engagement.
“It would be fun to see them duel in an upcoming one-on-one tournament on Sunday,” he said.
Most other players have more pressing concerns, starting with how to keep the ball in the fairway and on the green to avoid the rough.
Spieth awkwardly stepped on his right ankle last week and suffered from pain, hoping daily improvements will allow him to regain his full strength by Thursday.
Jon Rahm was in the process of being vaccinated when he tested positive for the coronavirus after building a six-shot lead through the Memorial’s 54 holes. Two negative tests ended his quarantine a few days earlier, although he still feels a little late that he had to go a week without any practice.
The fact that DeChambeau is the defending champion was almost an afterthought.
He won at Winged Foot relying on his length off the tee and his strength off the rough, as well as an iron game and putting that didn’t get enough credit. He won by six and thinks the same strategy could work at Torrey Pines.
In his tiff with Koepka, winning could be the last word.
This US Open has so many possibilities, all overshadowed by a public feud in which the main characters suggested it’s good for the game because people are talking.
While it’s entertaining, NBC analyst Paul Azinger perhaps summed it up better.
“Sometimes I think they don’t realize that we could be making fun of them, not just with them,” he said.