KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) – Tony Jacklin dealt with a lot as European captain at four Ryder Cups but never had to play the role of peacemaker between two bickering players the way U.S. captain Steve Stricker has at Whistling Straits.
As Ryder Cup week kicked off on Monday, the feud between U.S. team mates Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka was again in the spotlight.
Questions about their frosty relationship were still being asked on Tuesday and will likely continue until the first tee shots are hit in opening matches on Friday, threatening to become a bigger distraction than their squabble already is.
“It’s a bit childish in my view but it’s not my problem,” Jacklin told Reuters. “It’s a problem for the American team and the American captain and it’s up to him to sort it out.
“Obviously, it doesn’t bode well for team unity. I captained four times and I never experienced anything close to this situation.
“All I know, from what I can gather, I would rather be in the European team room than the U.S. team room.”
At media briefings Stricker has done his best to downplay the dispute that has been one of the biggest golf storylines of the year.
Sounding like a cross between a therapist, referee and spin doctor the U.S. captain said he has met with both men and they had assured him their differences would not be an issue.
If Stricker has brought an end to the long-running feud he would seem to have a future in mediation.
For years Koepka has been critical of DeChambeau’s slow play.
That distain went viral in May when Koepka was caught rolling his eyes as DeChambeau walked behind him while recording an interview with Golf Channel after the PGA Championship in May.
DeChambeau, speaking to reporters at Whistling Straits on Tuesday suggested the quarrel has been driven by a lot of external factors and that the two have all but settled their differences and even had dinner on Monday.
Getting the two men around the same table was the right move, said Jacklin, who also competed in seven Ryder Cups as a player, but it will take more than words before the talk of tension inside the U.S. team room is put to rest.
“You’ve got to face up to these guys and have it out with them,” said 77-year-old Jacklin, who takes an in depth look at the biennial competition in his new book, “Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey”.
“I think a lot of eyes will be on the American team unity and they (Europe) will be looking for any weakness on that front.
“I’ve got no doubt Stricker will be under the microscope.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Ken Ferris)