Bryson DeChambeau ends feud with Brooks Koepka - and hints they could even pair up for Ryder Cup

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Bryson DeChambeau at his Ryder Cup press conference - GETTY IMAGES
Bryson DeChambeau at his Ryder Cup press conference - GETTY IMAGES

Bryson DeChambeau has indicated that his feud with Brooks Koepka is finally over by revealing he shared dinner with his US teammate for the second time in the last month here at Whistling Straits on Monday evening. DeChambeau also dropped the tantalising hint that he could be paired with his fellow major winner at some stage during this Ryder Cup.

Their row has been going on for more than two years and has become increasingly unseemly with fans heckling DeChambeau. Inevitably, it has commanded plenty of focus in the build-up to this contest with US captain Steve Stricker keen to play down the spat.

DeChambeau’s coach, Mike Schy, has said, “Bryson wants it to end, he wants to move on”, and it seems that Koepka has agreed to a truce.

“A lot of this social media stuff has definitely been driven by external factors, not necessarily us two,” DeChambeau said. “We had some great conversations in Tour Championship week [three weeks ago] when we had dinner. And then this week as well. I sat down and had dinner with him last night and it was fine. I think there may be something fun coming up here moving forward, but I won't speak too much more on that.”

Butch Harmon, the celebrated coach, has called on the pair to “get their heads out of their damned a----” and play together, but Stricker said on Monday this was unlikely. At the moment, it appears that DeChambeau will partner rookie Scottie Scheffler who he knows from their college days. Scheffler was exceedingly complimentary about DeChambeau, going as far as to compare the former US Open champion to basketball legend Michael Jordan.

“Yeah, the perceptions are around him, it's whatever the public creates,” Scheffler said. “I think everybody has an opinion on him. I have an opinion on him, as well. I think he's a fantastic guy. Like I said, I've known him since college. He's always been nothing but gracious and kind to me, and he means really well.

“I think sometimes people take little tidbits of what he says and try and beat him down a little bit, and I think that's kind of what happens in sports is people get built up and then they get torn down once they reach the top.

“I think it's something you've seen for a long time. I've watched The Last Dance a couple of times, and it's something you saw with Jordan, as well. When people make it really big, like Bryson has, I think some people try and tear him down a little bit.”

As well as talking with Koepka again, DeChambeau has also ended his boycott of the press. But only for this week it appears. “This is a team event, I'm focused on helping Team USA to a victory, and that's honestly the reason why I'm here,” DeChambeau said when asked why he had agreed to speak with the media. “I'm not going to make this about me again. This is about a team event. I've got a brass chest. I've taken a lot of heat. But I'm okay with it, and I understand I'm in the place where I'm at, and it's going to be that way moving forward.”

It was quite the press conference by DeChambeau, who has created so much controversy. He has refused to speak with anyone other than TV outlets with official media rights and an American magazine with which he has been under contract since August.

His vow of silence came in the wake of his admission that he had not been vaccinated, although the ensuing storm - predictably played out largely on social media - was probably the final straw for him.

At July’s Open he said “this driver sucks” and was later forced to apologise to his equipment makers, and the month before his long-time caddie quit on the eve of a tournament. Meanwhile, the quarrel with US teammate Koepka has rumbled on, with fans being ejected from events after taunting him with “Brooksie” shouts. DeChambeau is plainly looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd here.

“We're all humans at the end of the day, and I think there's obviously a level of, I guess you could say, control that any human will ever have, and you can have a lot of armour and you can protect yourself with people around you and all that,” he said.

“Sure, there are times where it's not comfortable, but there's also times where it fuels me. I think this week is going to be an amazing example of it, and it's going to be fun to be able to have the crowd behind us and pump them up and show them what I can hopefully do and what we can do as a team more importantly.

“I’m going to try to get as many points as I can, and I think yeah, that could potentially change it for sure. There's always going to be people saying things no matter what it is. Even if I do something - if I make a hole-in-one on every single hole out here - there's always going to be people saying something.

“I'm not worried about it. I still love and respect them. I understand they have their opinions and whatnot and I respect those opinions, I see their points of view. But for me, again, taking it back and looking back, this is about - this isn't about me. This is about the team going and winning the Ryder Cup.”

McIlroy: 'We have a lot stacked against us'

By Simon Briggs at Whistling Straits

Rory McIlroy (left) chats with Team USA vice-captain Fred Couples - GETTY IMAGES
Rory McIlroy (left) chats with Team USA vice-captain Fred Couples - GETTY IMAGES

To put the challenge facing Europe into perspective, a victory at Whistling Straits would eclipse even the glorious memories of Medinah nine years ago. So says Europe’s spiritual leader Rory McIlroy, who partnered Lee Westwood during yesterday’s practice round.

McIlroy’s assessment took into account the vehemence of American home support - an environment so hostile, Westwood revealed how the galleries once called him a “turd” - and the exhausting length of this 7,390-yard course, but above all the world rankings, which show eight top-tenners on the home team and only one, Jon Rahm, among the visitors.

Asked what an achievement it would be for Europe to overturn the odds, McIlroy replied: “It would be massive. I think winning any Ryder Cup is huge and it's a monumental achievement for all that are involved, but I think over the years winning a Ryder Cup on the road has just become more meaningful for some reason.

“We experienced it in 2012 [at Medina], which from a European perspective is probably one of the best days in the Ryder Cup that we've ever had in history. I'd certainly love to have that feeling again.

“This tournament isn't played on paper, it's played on grass. But you look at the world rankings and everything, we're coming in here as underdogs with a lot of things stacked against us. So I think that would make it even more of an achievement.”

The behaviour of the crowd will be a fascinating ingredient of the coming week, especially as this is the first American-based Ryder Cup to be played since Donald Trump brought a new and jingoistic edge to stars-and-stripes nationalism.

McIlroy stressed that he was happy not to have gone ahead with a fan-free Ryder Cup last year, as it just wouldn’t have felt right. At the same time, though, he admitted that, “it probably would have been to the European team's benefit”.

Even for TV viewers, the raucous cries of “Get in the hole” at the tee of a par five soon become wearing. But they are nothing compared to the personal abuse that the players experience. “Suck a d---, Rory” was one of the less edifying remarks from Hazeltine four years ago.

A sense of humour will be essential this time around, especially if the volunteers on the course emulate those from Solheim Cup a fortnight ago, who wore stars-and-stripes cowboy hats and held up signs saying “Get loud” in place of the more familiar “Quiet please”.

Westwood is well equipped on this front, being not only the most experienced player on the European team with 10 previous Ryder Cup appearances, but also one of the drier characters in professional sport. “I got called a turd at Hazeltine in 2016,” he admitted. “And that's the first time I've been called a turd since I was about 12 years of age in a playground, I think. So that really made me and Billy [Foster, his caddie] chuckle.”

While the Americans cannot simply shout their way to victory, the constant chirping does become exhausting. McIlroy stressed that he needs to keep his own counsel this week, rather than taunting the hecklers as he did at Hazeltine by cupping a hand to his ear or making shushing gestures after a birdie.

“I will try to not be as animated and I'll try to conserve some energy,” said McIlroy, who has dropped to No 15 in the world but insists that his game is coming together after a summer spent with swing coach Pete Cowen.

“It's a long week. Whether I play all five [matches] again, we'll see, but it's a lot of golf. If you try to beat the crowd, as well, it seems like a bit of an impossible task. I felt like I sort of hit a wall on the back nine against Patrick [Reed, who won their matchplay on the final hole of Hazeltine in 2016], and I want to make sure that that doesn't happen again.”

McIlroy also spoke about how European captain Padraig Harrington has given all the players numbers to mark their position in the overall sequence of Ryder Cup combatants. McIlroy is No 144 and Westwood No 118, while the newest recruit - Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger - comes in at No 164.

“He [Harrington] played a video for us last night to put it into context,” said McIlroy. “570 people have been into space. I think over 5,000 people have climbed Everest. 225 have won a men's major. When you break it down like that, it's a pretty small group and it's pretty cool.”

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