SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) – Bryson DeChambeau made a concerted attempt on Tuesday to put a light-hearted spin on his public feud with Brooks Koepka, describing it as “great banter” and welcoming a potential on-course showdown between the pair at this week’s U.S. Open.
Defending champion DeChambeau and 2017 and 2018 winner Koepka between them have won three of the past four U.S. Opens, and their recent feud could hardly have come at a better time for anyone looking for a bit of acrimony in a sport with a staid public image.
Further down the track, DeChambeau and Koepka face the intriguing prospect of being American Ryder Cup team mates in September.
Their feud stems from a leaked interview Koepka recorded with Golf Channel after the PGA Championship last month. As DeChambeau walked behind the camera, Koepka rolled his eyes and made obvious his distaste for the player.
Though the video did not air on the Golf Channel, it soon popped up on social media.
DeChambeau was heckled at the Memorial tournament in Ohio two weeks ago by some rowdy spectators who yelled out Koepka’s name, and could face the prospect of similar treatment at Torrey Pines.
Koepka kept the feud alive by subsequently posting a video on social media thanking the fans who had yelled his name in Ohio, and promising free beer for their support.
The notoriously slow-playing DeChambeau, who is sometimes described as the “mad professor” because of his much-publicised understanding of the physics of golf, has rubbed the fast-playing Koepka the wrong way in the past due to the time he often takes to play a shot.
“To be honest, people saying Brooksy’s name out there, I love it. I think it’s hilarious,” DeChambeau said.
“I think that 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.”
DeChambeau and Koepka both said they had not been sounded out by the U.S. Golf Association about whether they would be happy to play the first two rounds here together.
“I don’t care who I’m paired with. It doesn’t matter to me,” said Koepka, sounding completely unfazed.
“I’m out there trying to play my own game. What happens inside the ropes, it won’t bother me.”
As for the Ryder Cup, American captain Steve Stricker recently expressed concern about the ongoing feud and whether it might hurt team chemistry at the showdown against Europe at Whistling Straits.
“It doesn’t make me happy when I see these guys going back and forth on social media,” Stricker said recently.
DeChambeau, however, moved to put Stricker at ease.
“We’re going to be on a team, and it’s going to be a different atmosphere,” DeChambeau said.
“We’re players competing individually on an individual basis out here, and I think we banter back and forth in good fun, but when it comes time to play on a team, it will be different.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Hugh Lawson)