The rivalry between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka has been reigning the No. 1 off-course golf story of the decade so far. It’s clear the two don’t like each other, or at least didn’t before limiting hostilities at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Somehow taking back the biggest team trophy in golf brought them at least on somewhat accepting terms.
Teammates hug. pic.twitter.com/KfIUrJRzEg— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) September 26, 2021
Or so we thought. The match on Friday will only be 12 holes, apparently requested by Koepka because he wants to spend as little time with his opponent as possible. “Playing 12 holes is nice, I mean it’s better than playing 18 holes with Bryson,” might be the best dig between these players so far in the buildup to Friday’s showdown.
How we got here
It started with a comment about slow play back in 2019, but it appeared to be reconciled at the time on the practice tee of the Northern Trust tournament.
Was standing on the putting green with Koepka's caddie earlier when an irritated Bryson DeChambeau walked up & told him to tell his boss to make any comment about slow play "to my face". Brooks arrived soon after, got the message & ambled over for a chat with the scientist.— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) August 11, 2019
Afterwards both guys said it was handled, and Bryson even said “it was great. We had a great conversation, and have a new level of respect for him.” Hatchet buried. Except...
At the St. Jude Invitational right after the Tour restarted following Covid-19 in July of 2020, DeChambeau asked for relief because there was an ant near his ball. When Koepka hit it in that same vicinity the next day, a hot mic caught making jokes about Bryson’s previous plea. So maybe they weren’t best of friends, but it didn’t appear to be too much of a problem.
The Spikes Video
Here’s where it starts to turn: At the 2021 PGA Championship, DeChambeau walks right behind Koepka in the middle of a post-round interview. Which would have been slightly rude already, but Bryson is one of the few players on Tour that wears metal spikes instead of the normal “soft spikes” that are prevalent and are also considered better for the courses being played.
And between the loud talking and the crunch on the pavement, Brooks has clearly had enough. And then someone from the Golf Channel chose to leak the video.
Now it’s getting a bit nastier.
And then when DeChambeau was announced as a partner for Aaron Rodgers for The Match at Moonlight Basin in Montana, Koepka couldn’t resist getting a shot in. And check the weak response from the former NCAA D1 champion.
@BKoepka It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) May 26, 2021
The fans trolling with “Brooksie!”
The fans mostly seemed to be on the side of Koepka, and for weeks afterwards they would start yelling “Brooksie!” at Bryson like it was his actual name. It cause a meltdown or two, and eventually the PGA Tour stepped in to start throwing out fans that did so.
May 26, 2021
Taking the troll game to the next level, Koepka offered free beer from his sponsor to some fans that were ejected from The Memorial for the needling.
Capping off a long day with @MichelobULTRA! Thanks for all the support today. Also, we’ve got something for you… pic.twitter.com/kwtwXg3Kqb— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) June 4, 2021
And then when DeChambeau fired his caddie on the eve of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Koepka got his Twitter thumbs ready again.
Couldn’t do it without my guy Rick! Best friend and greatest caddie to do it @RickyElliott appreciation day! pic.twitter.com/cNvD2VX8Nh— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) July 1, 2021
And so that’s how we ended up here, with golf’s biggest rivalry involving two guys that have yet to play with each other in the last round of a major or go toe-to-toe week in and week out on Tour. Instead it’s just two of the top players in the world that just don’t seem to like each other, and have used social media to express that in a way you generally don’t see in the “gentlemanly” sport of golf.
Whether it’s good or bad for the game is up to you. But the drama should bring plenty of eyeballs to TNT at 4 p.m. ET on Friday.