CROMWELL, Conn. – Two of the PGA Tour’s marquee stars are in the midst of a rare public feud in the golf world, and one of the participants finally spoke out about its origins on Wednesday.
Reasons for the beef have included Brooks Koepka complaining about slow players; Bryson DeChambeau calling out Brooks’ lack of abs in a Twitch stream; and it all being a publicity stunt to increase interest for a money-making deal down the road.
In his press conference ahead of the Travelers Championship, Koepka traced the history of his feud with DeChambeau.
“I thought it was just interesting when he walked up to my caddie and told Ricky (Elliott) that if I had something to say, to say it to his face,” said Koepka.
“I thought that was kind of odd, when you don’t walk up to my face and say it to my caddie.”
Koepka appeared to be referring to a conversation the two had during the 2019 Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.Y. That came after Koepka had publicly called out slow players in an appearance on a Golf Monthly podcast.
“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds to hit a golf ball,” Koepka said. “It’s not that hard.”
Koepka didn’t mention DeChambeau by name, but it was widely seen as a reference to a European Tour video that showed DeChambeau taking an extraordinary amount of time to hit a wedge shot. At Liberty National, DeChambeau and Koepka spoke before their final rounds, and DeChambeau told reporters that he “just wanted to clear the air.”
On Wednesday at TPC River Highlands, Koepka also suggested he and DeChambeau had come to some sort of agreement during that conversation.
“And when we had that conversation, we agreed on something and he went back on it,” Koepka said. “So, if you’re gonna go back on your word, I don’t have much respect for that.”
The feud then faded into the background until a rogue viral video relit the fire. It showed Koepka, at the PGA Championship in May, rolling his eyes as DeChambeau walked past in the background. The following week, at the Memorial Tournament, spectators repeatedly referred to DeChambeau as “Brooksy,” and Koepka offered free Michelob Ultra to any fans who were thrown off the grounds as a result of their conduct.
The feud loomed large at the U.S. Open last week, when Rhode Island native, and 2006 Greater Hartford Open winner, Brad Faxon said the United States Golf Association approached DeChambeau’s camp about a potential pairing with Koepka, and that DeChambeau declined.
DeChambeau, his agent and the USGA all denied any such conversation.
In an appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter on Tuesday, Koepka suggested DeChambeau started the disagreement and that other PGA Tour players have said they’re “glad” the eye-roll video went viral. After briefly playing into the back-and-forth on social media, DeChambeau has tried to distance himself from the feud and played down its significance.
“I’ve got nothing against [Koepka],” DeChambeau said at the Memorial three weeks ago. “I’ve got no issues at all. If he wants to play that game, that’s great. I’m going to keep trying to play my best game and when it comes down to it, when somebody’s that bothered by someone else it is flattering.”
The $7.4 million Travelers Championship begins Thursday, and Koepka and DeChambeau are playing on the opposite end of the draw and start off different tees in two of the featured pairings.
Koepka, ranked No. 8 in the Official World Golf Rankings, will be paired with defending champion Dustin Johnson, who dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 when Jon Rahm won the U.S. Open on Sunday, and No. 15 Tony Finau. The marquee trio will go off at 1 p.m. from the first tee.
World No. 6 DeChambeau will be grouped with No. 9 Patrick Reed, and two-time champion Stewart Cink. They will start from the 10th tee at 7:45 a.m.
Phil Mickelson, the only repeat champion in tournament history (2001-02) – who became the oldest major champion (50, now 51) when he captured the PGA Championship, will play the first 36 holes with frequent Travelers challenger Paul Casey – the world No. 20, and Bubba Watson, who will be seeking a record-tying fourth win to join Hall of Famer Billy Casper as the winningest tournament champion.
Fairfield native J.J. Henry, the only state player to win Connecticut’s premier sporting event, starts on the 10th tee at 12:20 p.m. with Tyler McCumber and MacKenzie Hughes, who tied for third in the Travelers last year and contended in last week’s U.S. Open.