- Senior Writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine
- Born and raised in Western Montana
- Spent 11 years as a feature writer for The Baltimore Sun
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — United States Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker said that he’s spoken individually to Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka about putting their running feud to rest for the good of American golf, and each has agreed it won’t be an issue at Whistling Straits.
Whether that holds up, however, may depend on how Koepka and DeChambeau feel about Stricker’s sharing their détente with a reporter.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Stricker said he’d spoken with each of them on the phone and gotten some assurance that their mutual disdain won’t be a distraction for an American squad that’s won just two Ryder Cups in the last 20 years.
Both golfers, according to the 54-year-old captain, agreed to stop publicly sniping at one another. Or at least agreed to press pause.
“They assured me that the team and the country and everything else that goes into this is their [top priority],” Stricker said. “They said it’s not going to be an issue, and I believe them. I trust them. As far as I’m concerned, it’s been put to bed.”
Stricker noted that the squabbling between the two, most of which played out on various social media channels after the PGA Championship at Kiawah, has already cooled considerably.
“We haven’t heard Brooks say anything about Bryson lately,” Stricker said. “The Ryder Cup means a lot to these guys. Neither wants to be the root of the problem. They both understand.”
Koepka has been forthright when asked about DeChambeau — he readily admits doesn’t like him, and has enjoyed needling him in various ways — but has also said he didn’t believe that would be an issue for Team USA from Sept. 24-26 in Wisconsin.
“It’s only a week,” Koepka told reporters during the Open Championship. “Look, I can put it aside for business. If we’re going to be on the same team, I can deal with anybody for a week.”
But Koepka has also shown, at times, he can be a bit of an iconoclast when it comes to people within golf commenting on something he’s done or said. It’s easy to imagine him putting aside his feud with DeChambeau at Stricker’s request. It’s also easy to imagine him reengaging it in an instant because he didn’t love that Stricker shared his willingness to do so.
DeChambeau has said little over the last month, boycotting all post-round interviews with print reporters since he was widely criticized for saying, after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to the Tokyo Olympics, that he wasn’t going to get vaccinated for the virus because he wanted to save the shot for someone who needed it more than he did.
Asked whether there was any chance he might go against conventional thinking and actually pair Koepka and DeChambeau together at the Ryder Cup — reminiscent of Hal Sutton’s decision to pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together in 2004 at the height of their uneasiness toward each other — Stricker essentially shot down the idea.
“I’m not going to tell you there’s no chance,” Stricker told SI. “But I don’t see it happening, no. I don’t think they want to play together.”
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