(Reuters) – The long-running feud between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau has the potential to inspire the American team instead of weighing them down at next week’s Ryder Cup, Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington said on Friday.
Koepka and DeChambeau have been involved in public spats for more than a year, with U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker having to step in last month to broker peace between the duo.
Harrington, however, said that the animosity could be of benefit to the U.S. team and lift all the players as they look to wrestle back the Ryder Cup from their European counterparts.
“If I focused on the U.S. and had this idea of ‘Hey, look, this is going to impact their vibe’ or whatever, it could actually work in reverse… if they (Koepka and DeChambeau) get their act together… the team sees that and pulls together really strongly,” the Irishman told the Guardian.
“That’s why I’m not relying on it. As a captain (of the U.S.), I’d see it as something that could work in my favour. If I can get these guys to show unity, the rest of the team would follow. We can’t rely on it.”
The 50-year-old gave the example of his own rift with Spain’s Sergio Garcia, saying that the two were able to overcome their differences for the greater good of the team. Both played in many successful Ryder Cups and have since ended their feud.
“If it was my team, we’d be working on it… you could say myself and Sergio had that little bit of friction over the years, which we easily overcame… we would be hugging at a Ryder Cup,” said Harrington.
The 2021 Ryder Cup, originally scheduled for last year but pushed back due to the pandemic, gets underway at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin on Sept. 24.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)