In a so-called super season rich with on course storylines -- from Hideki Matsuyama’s breakthrough at Augusta to Phil Mickelson becoming golf’s oldest major champion with his stunning victory at the PGA Championship -- the game’s newest off-course rivalry continues to make headlines.
A social-media firestorm ignited during the PGA Championship as DeChambeau subtly reacted to a comment Koepka made following the second round at Kiawah Island. Koepka then took to Twitter and “apologized” to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is scheduled to play a team exhibition match with DeChambeau this July.
DeChambeau responded with a classic one-liner saying, “It’s nice to be living rent free in your head.”
Their feud continued to the Memorial where fans were kicked out for referring to DeChambeau as “Brooksy.” Kopeka then put out a video offering free beer to the fans who were removed from the grounds at Muirfield Village, thanks to his sponsor Michelob Ultra.
Both DeChambeau and Koepka downplayed their rivalry ahead of this week’s US Open at Torrey Pines, saying they are focusing on their own games. But DeChambeau acknowledged he still has some catching up to do to reach Koepka’s total of four majors.
“I'm not worried at all. He's older than me, and he's won more majors than me. Hey, I've got something to look up to,” DeChambeau said.
While golf purists and more progressive fans go back and forth on the issue, both players believe their animosity is good for the game of golf.
“I think it's good for the game. It's bringing new eyeballs,” Koepka said. “It's pretty much been on every news channel. Everything you look at online, it's got this in the headline. To me, that's growing the game. You're putting it in front of eyeballs, you're putting it in front of people who probably don't normally look at golf and it might get them involved. I don't know how it's not growing the game.”
DeChambeau said he has enjoyed the banter between the two, but said it could reach a point where it crosses the line.
“I think there are just times where, if it gets outside the scope of just integrity and honor, that can get a little interesting,” DeChambeau said.
DeChambeau and Koepka will both be members of the US Ryder Cup team this year, and captain Steve Stricker has said he is concerned that it could impact the American side. DeChambeau downplayed that, saying that everything changes when you play on a team.
“When we're on a team, 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.”