Golf appears to be a game of manners. Don’t be fooled. Golf is a game of seething hate, grievances great and small, barely masked by a thin veneer of decorum. You want to win against the world’s best, you can’t be a nice guy. You’ve got to have a deep well of mean in your soul. Every single one of golf’s champions does, no matter what pleasant face they present to the world.
All of this is a long and florid way of saying: Brooks Koepka gave us an honest look at the mind of a champion over the weekend, and it was glorious.
Koepka, a four-time major champion, was in the hunt for this past weekend’s PGA Championship right until the final holes, when Phil Mickelson crafted a historic victory in the face of 200-to-1 odds. But that’s not what set the golf world ablaze Monday night.
Unaired video from a post-round Golf Channel interview leaked Monday, and it’s a remarkable peek into how Koepka views one of golf’s most polarizing figures: the human algorithm that is Bryson DeChambeau.
Here’s the video, which comes with the strongest possible NSFW language warning. If you’re back in an office, wear headphones; if you’re still working at home, crank it up and enjoy:
(The video is getting scrubbed from the web, so if that one’s not visible, here’s a GIF of the relevant moment when DeChambeau walks past Koepka:
Koepka begins the interview with Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis by giving the side-eye to someone off-camera. Soon enough, we hear the clack of golf spikes on gravel, and we see who it is: DeChambeau, the mad scientist who’s happy to tell you just how much of a scientist he is, and how he’s not really mad, he’s just inquisitive, and … and Koepka has clearly heard enough of this kind of talk.
He pauses, curses, and then owns up to it. “I lost my train of thought, hearing that [expletive],” Koepka says. “[Expletive]ing Christ.”
Koepka is so relatable in this moment. He’s us, every time we’ve had to listen to that same annoying co-worker prattle on about craft beer or sourdough bread or whatever it is they’re so obsessed with. He closes his eyes, tries to find his center, and barely keeps it together.
What we have here are two contrasting styles. DeChambeau has decided to turn golf into a math problem, filtering out any emotion in favor of pure data. He tracks everything from the calories he eats to the angle he launches the ball to the spin of the ball when it’s in the air to the flow of the wind through which it flies. He’ll happily opine on what he’s learned, too, like a teacher’s pet who not only did all the homework but a little extra too, just to be prepared.
Koepka, by contrast, slams at the ball like he’s jamming someone into a locker. He endorses a “when it doesn’t work the first time, just hit it harder the second” mentality. He manufactures grievances to keep himself engaged, from slow play to angry fans to, well, whatever pseudoscientific word salad DeChambeau is whipping up at any given moment. He’s not intimidated by anyone, and if he’d managed to overtake Phil on Sunday, he’d have hoisted his third PGA Championship without a single regret.
Here’s the best part: Both styles are working. They’re ranked fourth (DeChambeau) and seventh (Koepka) in the world. They’ve both won U.S. Opens. They’re both regular betting favorites. When healthy, they’re both a threat to win every time they tee it up. Best of all, they’ll both be on Team USA in the Ryder Cup for the foreseeable future.
Jock vs. nerd. Heart vs. head. Feel vs. facts. Pick your side and you’ve got your rooting interest for the next 15 years.
This isn’t the first time Koepka and DeChambeau have butted heads. Koepka got on DeChambeau in 2019 over slow play. Just before the pandemic, DeChambeau mocked Koepka’s physique, saying, “Did you see the [ESPN] body issue? He didn’t have any abs. I have abs.”
Koepka fired back with a devastating shot, referencing his four majors to DeChambeau’s zero at the time:
Koepka-DeChambeau is very much in the tradition of golf rivalries, only without the pretension of “gentlemanly decorum.” Yes, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan or Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer gave off the appearance of dignified competitors respecting one another’s talents, but make no mistake … any one of them would have stepped right over the other’s bleeding body on the 18th at Augusta to claim a green jacket. Koepka did nothing wrong here; he just gave us a look at how the mind of every other champion golfer truly works.
Golf thrives on rivalries, and clearly, we’ve got one blasting away with nuclear heat right now.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]
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