Brooks Koepka to play with stars, but not THAT star
Koepka is not playing with Bryson DeChambeau. The Tour, apparently, does not want drama.
Koepka was grouped with Woods and McIlroy for the first and second rounds of this week’s Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, among four “featured” groupings the Tour announced Monday. A pairing with DeChambeau will have to wait until at least the weekend.
The Memorial is the first tournament for both Koepka and DeChambeau since DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks ago. It’s also their first tournament since Koepka got into an argument with an analyst.
Last Thursday, the Golf Digest Instagram account posted a photo of Koepka rubbing his forehead during the first round of the Workday Charity Open and wrote “caption this.” Koepka did. “When you hear that annoying voice on tv and look up and see it’s @paigegolf,” Koepka wrote.
On Thursday morning, the Golf Channel’s Paige Mackenzie was on TV voicing her opinion on Koepka. During Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show, Mackenzie said a Koepka tweet earlier in the week was “completely unprofessional” and that he should be fined. The tweet was a gif of the fictional character Kenny Powers, from the HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” running toward a cameraman and included a caption that read “Kenny Powers confronts steroids allegations” – which Golf Channel believed may have been a shot at DeChambeau.
Koepka and DeChambeau have also had a few confrontations.
They’ve discussed DeChambeau’s pace of play. At last year’s Northern Trust, DeChambeau was roundly criticized after videos surfaced of him taking a painfully long time to hit a few shots. Before their final round, DeChambeau took Koepka aside to discuss the issue.
They’ve discussed Koepka’s body. Back in January, in a much lighter and less tense incident, DeChambeau jokingly criticized Koepka’s ESPN Body Issue photoshoot, saying, “I don’t know if his genetics even make him look good. Did you see the Body Issue? He didn’t have any abs. I have abs.” Koepka got the last laugh. He shared a photo on Twitter of his four major championship trophies and wrote, “You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!”
They’ll have to wait to discuss DeChambeau’s win.
There should be plenty to talk about with Koepka’s other playing partners. Woods, the 15-time major winner, is playing for the first time since the Genesis Invitational in February due to physical ailment and the Tour’s three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus. McIlroy, the world’s top-ranked player, surged past Koepka to win last year’s Tour Championship – a few weeks after Koepka said he didn’t think he had a rivalry with McIlroy.
DeChambeau will be grouped with last week’s winner, Collin Morikawa, and last year’s Memorial winner, Patrick Cantlay. Also featured will be the grouping of Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry, and the grouping of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele.
Koepka used a gambling reference when asked about playing this week.
He’s currently 155th in the FedEx Cup standings, and only its top 30 make the Tour Championship in Atlanta in early September. Koepka said he needs to make a run.
“I think it’s pretty simple,” Koepka said. “I didn’t plan on playing, but things change, and I’d like to be in Atlanta. That’s what you’ve got to do.
“I’m going to basically run the table.”
DeChambeau, at times, has recently referred to himself as the “house” or the “casino” with his game, which has undergone a muscular metamorphosis – he wants to put the odds in his favor.