The new generation of rising golf stars features more friends than foes. It’s not uncommon to see Jordan Spieth and his buddies Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman all over each other’s Instagram stories.
But there’s one rivalry in the up-and-coming generation, and that’s between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. Maybe it’s more of a feud — call it whatever you’d like. But two of the PGA Tour’s best players have had a few attention-drawing spats. They enter the 2020 Masters with DeChambeau ranked sixth in the world and Koepka ranked 12th, and before the week is over at Augusta National, they may be asked about each other once or twice more (or in a made-for-television godsend, maybe they’ll wind up in the same group on the weekend).
Here’s a look back at the notable moments in Koepka and DeChambeau’s relationship (so far).
Jan. 2019: Brooks Koepka complains about Bryson DeChambeau’s slow play
Golf has not been immune to the pace-of-play discussion that’s made its way into a number of sports. DeChambeau is one of the slower competitors on tour, approaching each shot with a scientific process that requires more time than your average golf shot at the local course.
Koepka was asked about his thoughts on slow play shortly after that video clip of DeChambeau above, while speaking on the Golf’s Monthly podcast. This is what Koepka had to say:
“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard. It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers. Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30. If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse. Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”
DeChambeau had a response.
“It’s actually quite impressive that we’re able to get all that stuff done in 45 seconds; people don’t realize that it’s very difficult to do everything we do in 45 seconds. I think that anybody that has an issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do. If we want to provide the best entertainment for you, it’s part of our process, or it’s part of my process, at least.”
“We try and speed up. Trust me, we do our due diligence to speed up and do our best. We’re not trying to slow anyone down. I’m not trying to slow anyone down. It’s just a part of the process, and unfortunately the Rules of Golf allow for a certain amount of time, and we’re (using it) to our fullest potential.”
The PGA Tour updated its pace-of-play rules in January. Any player who takes more than 120 seconds to take a shot will be assessed an Excessive Shot Time. Officials can then assess a one-stroke penalty for the second bad time in a tournament, and for every bad time thereafter. Players will also be fined for such times.
The tour put together an Observation List based on ShotLink data, which tells them how long players take for each shot (it’s not publicly available data). Then officials can choose to monitor especially egregious individuals on a specific basis.
You can also read this entertaining piece from Golf Digest to see if Koepka really has a case about DeChambeau’s shot-playing.
Aug. 2019: DeChambeau admits Koepka would ‘kick my ass’ in a fight
On SiriusXM Radio, DeChambeau and Koepka were both on the same show with Michael Collins. They had recently met and spoke on the practice green at a tournament, and things appeared amicable. When DeChambeau was asked about it, he put himself in his place.
“Let’s be honest, we know who would win that fight,” DeChambeau said of a hypothetical bout between him and Koepka. “And it’s not me.”
Koepka hammered the point home: “You got that right.”
DeChambeau again said “I want to make it faster, no doubt.” And then in showing his youth, he concluded his comments with this: “I would love it if I was done in two hours and ‘See ya later.’ I’d be playing ‘Fortnite’ all day long.”
July 2020: Koepka trolls DeChambeau with ‘steroid’ tweet
When the PGA Tour returned from its coronavirus shutdown, DeChambeau looked as strong as ever and was hitting his drives further than any player had consistently in the tour’s history. That led to wondering whether DeChambeau’s bulking up was all protein shakes and muscle activation, as he claimed.
Koepka got in on the action, too. He went for the subtweet approach this time, using a Kenny Powers GIF to troll DeChambeau.
After winning a tournament in September, DeChambeau was asked about the added length to his game.
“I was hitting it (like) just a normal, average tour player a year ago,” DeChambeau said. “And then I all of a sudden got a lot stronger, worked out every day, been working out every day, and all of a sudden — not because of clubs, but because of me — I was able to gain 20, 25 yards.”
DeChambeau concluded with an inconvenient word choice: “You’ve kept me pushing the needle, moving the needle, and (my supporters are) going to keep inspiring me to.”
July 2020: Koepka jokes about DeChambeau’s ant near his ball comment
During the first round of the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, DeChambeau hit a shot into the trees and asked for relief from the landing spot due to a red ant near his ball. The request was denied.
Koepka had obviously heard about the request, and the next day, he hit a drive in a similar location. After lining up over his ball, he stepped away and said to his caddy, “There’s an ant.”
After a pause, Koepka clarified that he was joking. Nick Faldo remarked on the broadcast, “Bryson is definitely causing some entertainment out there.”