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PGA rivals to bring feud to Las Vegas next month

Updated October 5, 2021 - 2:06 pm

Golf’s ongoing soap opera featuring two of its biggest stars is about to get a very public airing.

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will be taking their ongoing feud to the golf course. The two major champions, who have been very public about their dislike for one another but private about the details, will face off in a 12-hole match Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas.

WynnBet announced Tuesday that the pair will play Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. The event will take place at Wynn Golf Club and be televised by Turner Sports.

It will be the fifth iteration of The Match, and the first featuring just two players since Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson played the first one in 2019 at Shadow Creek. Subsequent telecasts have paired combinations of Mickelson, Woods and DeChambeau with other professional athletes, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Steph Curry and Aaron Rodgers.

Koepka is playing this week at the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin, while DeChambeau is skipping the event. Koepka was not at the course Tuesday, but will be Wednesday morning for a pro-am. Attempts to reach representatives for both players were unsuccessful.

Golf fans and casual observers have been fascinated by the feud, which dates back to some time in 2019 when, according to Koepka, DeChambeau went back on his word over something. Koepka was also publicly critical of DeChambeau for slow play.

The feud reached its peak at the PGA Championship in May when Koepka, being interviewed by the Golf Channel, was interrupted by DeChambeau as he walked behind him. Koepka stopped the interview, shook his head and said he lost his train of thought “hearing that (expletive),” followed by more profanities. The clip, which did not air of TV, went viral on Twitter.

That moment split golf fans, with Koepka supporters from that moment on calling DeChambeau “Brooksie” at tournaments to get under his skin.

He has had several exchanges with fans since, leading PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to step into the fray. Calling DeChambeau “Brooksie” will now be considered a violation and grounds for removal from any future tournament, Monahan announced in September.

“Comments or gestures that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players, caddies, volunteers, officials, staff or other spectators,” Monahan said. “Fans who breach our code of conduct are subject to expulsion from the tournament and loss of their credential or ticket.”

At this month’s Ryder Cup, U.S. captain Steve Stricker convinced the two to put their feud aside for the week. Outside the team room, both were publicly quiet. Teammates even got them to hug after the closing ceremonies after much of the team was several bottles of Champagne into the celebration.

Now the feud heads to Wynn Golf Club, where both players will be miked up and banter will be encouraged. Whether either addresses the feud and to what extent will be the hook to get viewers.

Since Woods’ series of injuries and inability to stay on the course in recent years, DeChambeau has become the biggest draw in golf. He bulked up during the start of the pandemic and now hits the ball farther than anybody, drawing fans in awe of his skill. But his short temper, slow play and badgering of tournament officials at times has caused a backlash among other fans.

Koepka is perhaps the most athletic player in golf, but his power is combined with a soft touch around the greens to earn him four major championships over the past decade.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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