Bryson DeChambeau says that it’s all about the team this week at Whistling Straits, but no matter what he says, but his actions on and off the course seem to say otherwise.
DeChambeau has made more headlines than any other player this year, and while I’m sure he wishes it was less about his feud with Brooks Koepka, he seems to relish the attention.
DeChambeau has had plenty of success—he has eight career PGA Tour wins, including the 2020 US Open—but when the first thing he does in the interview immediately after a win is thank all his sponsors, it gets stale. His Twitter bio contains only the names of his sponsors.
He also takes his social media use to the next level. He has a YouTube channel with 84,000 subscribers, and often posts videos on Instagram and TikTok.
Some PGA Tour players come across as robotic, but DeChambeau is anything but.
“I'm now doing stuff on TikTok and Instagram and YouTube, just doing to do things a little different because I want to show people who I actually am,” DeChambeau said. “I think it's cool when they get to see behind the scenes a little bit, see what I do during my daily life.”
Regardless of his intentions, his actions suggest he is taking the “influencer role” nearly as seriously as his golf game. DeChambeau completely changed his body and his game to become the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, and seems to be focusing more on his upcoming appearance in the national long drive competition than leading the US to victory at the Ryder Cup.
In typical DeChambeau fashion, a story emerged last week that he had “wrecked his hands” before the FedEx Cup playoffs due to his hard work. Another example about how he goes out of his way to proclaim himself as the hardest worker on the PGA Tour. But he appears to be taking the entertainment portion of the PGA Tour a bit too literally.
“I'm not trying to change anybody's perception. All I'm trying to do is showcase what I can do for the game of golf,” DeChambeau said. “Whether people like it or not, that's their interpretation of it. For me, again, I'm going to keep providing people with the best entertainment I possibly can, and some people may not like it, some people love it.”
But his actions are an attempt to change perception every single day. Everything from his single length irons, the physics equations he uses to calculate every possible variable before every shot, to the driving cap he wears for every round.
All of this has rubbed people the wrong way, and the talk surrounding him this week is more about who he can’t play with than who he can. Could captain Steve Stricker name a player to “handle” DeChambeau, similar to how Graeme McDowell did to Victor Dubuisson in 2014? DeChambeau doesn’t think that’s necessary, but he brought out his best sales pitch when asked about who he could be paired with.
DeChambeau acknowledged that his style of play works better in the four ball format than in alternate shot, but said he could succeed in foursomes “with the right person”.
DeChambeau seems like he would be a good fit playing with Scottie Scheffler, an even-keeled player who has known DeChambeau since they played college golf at
Texas and SMU respectively.
Scheffler had nothing but nice things to say about DeChambeau during his news conference Tuesday.
I think he's a fantastic guy. He's always been nothing but gracious and kind to me, and he means really well,” Scheffler said. “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.”
DeChambeau’s feud with Brooks Koepka has grabbed headlines all year, and it seems to be reaching a climax with the two forced to unite as teammates this week at Whistling Straits.
DeChambeau is downplaying the feud this week—as he should—but it seems clear that it will continue once him and Koepka are competing against each other once again. DeChambeau insinuated that “something fun” was coming between him and Koepka, likely another made-for-TV match play competition. It’s gotten to the point where it seems uncertain what it would take to end the rivalry for good.
DeChambeau has been subject to endless ridicule since crowds returned to PGA Tour events, and it appears to be getting out of hand. It’s gotten so bad that the PGA Tour banned fans from yelling “Brooksie” at DeChambeau.
A patron yelled out Brooksie, and DeChambeau had heard enough as he got in the man’s face.
“I'm being dead serious when I say it could have gotten ugly really fast. Maybe not "Malice at the Palace" bad, but in that moment, nothing would've surprised me,” Van Valkenburg wrote. “A rope line is little more than a polite suggestion when it comes to security at a golf tournament. DeChambeau had been hearing, and ignoring, that kind of taunt all week. But everyone has their breaking point.”
As things have progressed, it has become easier to sympathize with DeChambeau. What he is been subject to on the golf course amounts to bullying. And it’s clearly effecting him—as it should.
“No matter what, we're all humans at the end of the day, and I think there's obviously a level of control that any human will ever have,” DeChambeau said. “And you can have a lot of armor and you can protect yourself with people around you and all that. Sure, there are times where it's not comfortable, but there's also times where it fuels me.”
Here’s hoping that it does fuel him this week, and that the American crowd can help him lead the US to victory.