SANDWICH, England (Reuters) -American Brooks Koepka provided more background on his row with compatriot Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday and insisted he could put aside his apparent dislike for the big-hitter for “one week” at the Ryder Cup later this year.
The tension between world number eight Koepka and number six DeChambeau has provided an interesting sub-plot ahead of the British Open which starts on Thursday.
Koepka once called out DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, for slow play while DeChambeau made fun of Koepka’s physique in a magazine interview.
A recent Golf Channel tape that never aired was leaked showing Koepka rolling his eyes and making some disparaging remarks as DeChambeau walked past in view of the camera after this year’s PGA Championship.
Koepka also offered beer to fans who heckled DeChambeau at the Memorial tournament in June.
He was asked about the ‘feud’ on Tuesday after his first practice round at Sandwich.
“It was at Liberty. He didn’t like that I had mentioned his name in slow play, so we had a conversation in the locker room, and then I guess we said something else in the press conference but didn’t mention his name in it, and he walked up to Ricky (Elliott, Koepka’s caddie) and said something,” Koepka said.
“It was, ‘you tell your man if he’s got something to say, say it to myself’. I thought that was ironic because he went straight to Ricky. Ricky told me when I came out, hit a few putts, then just walked right over to him, we had a conversation.”
Koepka said that they had agreed then to let it “die off” but says DeChambeau had not “held up his end of the bargain.”
“I didn’t like that, so I’ll take my shots,” he said.
Having two such high-profile Americans trading barbs whips up even more excitement for the start of the 149th Open and Koepka said a lot more people would “tune in” if they ended up playing the fourth round together on Sunday.
But it could also become a distraction ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup. Asked if they would put aside their differences for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September, Koepka said they would not be “high-fiving”.
“It’s only a week. I can put it aside for business. If we’re going to be on the same team, I can deal with anybody in the world for a week,” four-time major winner Koepka said.
“I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be paired together; put it that way. It doesn’t matter, we’re not going to be high-fiving and having late-night conversations. I do my thing, he does his thing.”
DeChambeau was reluctant to stoke the fire when asked about the feud by reporters on Tuesday but said it would be “funny” if they played as a pair at the Ryder Cup.
“I think we’d do well, to be honest. It would create a little interesting vibe for the team or for the guys we’re playing against.”
Koepka has never won the British Open, although he managed a career-best tied fourth at Portrush in 2019. He said he loves the creativity required to win on a links course, although he is not a particular fan of the Royal St George’s layout.
“I think Portrush and St. Andrews are definitely the favourites. Fairways are quite undulating. I don’t know, it’s not my favourite of the rotation, put it that way.
“I don’t care whether I like the place, don’t like it. You’ve still got to play good and go hit the shots.”
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)