Were Brooks Koepka’s Ryder Cup remarks a shot at his U.S. teammates?

brooks koepka at the ryder cup

During his Ryder Cup press conference on Wednesday, Brooks Koepka talked about how some players have "false confidence."

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Brooks Koepka spoke to the media on Wednesday at the Ryder Cup, and one of his most interesting comments came from a question asked by the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson: If the Ryder Cup came down to one match on the course to decide it, I suspect if you ask all 24 guys here if they want the ball, they’d say yes. How many of them do you think really mean it? “Very few,” Koepka said. “False confidence, I think. … “You’ve always got to believe you’re the best and want to be the best and have that drive, and that’s what’s going to put you over the edge. I think a lot of guys have it, but I don’t know how many guys would want an eight-footer with this on the line.” Were Koepka’s comments a shot at not only the European team, but his U.S. teammates? And if you were on that American squad, would you be annoyed?

Ryan Barath, senior equipment editor (@RDSBarath): This sure feels like a classic case of Brooks being Brooks, and saying things that others might be thinking, but not willing to say aloud. That said, I think his comments are borderless and likely reflect how he thinks some players on both sides might react in a pressure situation. Not everyone can be Tiger and Ernie playing past dark at the Presidents Cup and exchanging blows with the whole thing on the line, and if Brooks thinks he’s got that in him — good on him! As for his teammates, I think this is a non-issue, because every player in the Ryder Cup has self-belief. Heck, Wyndham Clark said earlier this week: “I have tons of respect for Rory, and because of that respect, I also want to beat him. I like to think I am better than him and I want to prove that.” In that regard, I think Brooks’ remarks probably just go over the heads of everyone on the U.S. side.

Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): While I don’t think he was up there thinking, “How can I get my teammates mad?” I can see how some of them could have taken offense to the comment, not that it’s something they’d lose sleep over. But they also might just chalk this up to Brooks being Brooks. I do think there is some truth to what Koepka said if you look at a normal PGA Tour field at a typical tournament. Some players have more of that clutch gene than others, but 24 of the best players in the world are in Rome right now. I would think a majority of them are OK with getting the ball in a pivotal match.

Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): I don’t find Koepka to be an easy guy to like, but his alpha-jock caricature thing makes for good entertainment. And when I say caricature, I don’t mean to say he’s faking it. For whatever reason, Koepka’s competitive mindset calls for him to minimize others as he matter-of-factly pumps himself up. It’s hard to imagine it wins him many fans among his peers but you can’t argue with the results. As for the other 23 guys, my guess is that if they’re upset, it’s because they feel called out. I doubt it bugs his teammates too much — at least not the ones who really do want the ball. They probably roll their eyes and think, “There goes Brooks again.” On the European side, I would think the reaction is mostly: “typical American blowhard. Please, let me draw him in singles so I can administer a whooping.”

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Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): Just more of BK being BK. He’s crafted his brand as the most alpha (and sometimes arrogant) golfer in the world — and he tends to back it up with his play. It was definitely some psychological warfare aimed at the Euros, which is par for the course with Koepka. And if his American teammates felt slighted by the comments, well, tough luck. If you’re offended by that comment, then you probably have some self-doubt.

Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): Wonder if he feels the same way about his Smash teammates?

Nick Dimengo, senior instruction editor (@ndimengo): Is anything more American than Brooks Koepka right now? He’s got the mullet. He’s got the swagger. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. And he’s got the red, white and blue just pouring out of his veins. But Brooks has made a living being the alpha male in golf, and this is the latest example of that. I think about how Michael Jordan used to push his teammates in practice, and how he was the most nagging, most intimidating voice in that gym every day. MJ crafted a plan to challenge his teammates to exceed their own expectations — and Brooks appears to be doing the same here. Should the Ryder Cup come down to an eight-footer, Koepka is essentially calling out his teammates, “prove me wrong.” I love it!

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