You’ve probably seen the video by now.
In the moment it must have felt like a Golf Channel outtake, a notable interview slip that would die on the cutting-room floor. There was Brooks Koepka at the microphone, looking typically unimpressed with the world after a second-round 71. He was answering an interview question from Todd Lewis when Bryson DeChambeau and his caddie walked behind him on their way to the scoring tent.
DeChambeau’s voice is semi-audible in the video, but it’s tough to know what he said with any certainty. It had been clear from the broadcast that he was frustrated with his finish; he felt like he’d hit it well coming home but that his score hadn’t reflected it. His very presence seemed to throw off Koepka.
“Christ,” Koepka says in the video, breaking off mid-answer.
“I lost my train of thought,” he adds. He sprinkles in some expletives.
Lewis and Koepka pause the interview and prep for a second take, laughing. “We’re going to enjoy that in the TV compound,” Lewis says. Koepka shrugs.
“I honestly wouldn’t even care.”
The rift between Koepka and DeChambeau stretches back to at least January 2019, and the two have traded barbs ever since. Koepka has criticized DeChambeau’s pace of play, DeChambeau has criticized Koepka’s abs, Koepka has flexed his trophy collection, DeChambeau has confronted him in person, Koepka has made fun of DeChambeau asking for a ruling, etc. But we’d never seen Koepka quite like this. It felt real, and honest, and like a telling moment for two past and future Ryder Cup teammates.
The video, posted by relatively anonymous Twitter user @RJWinfield, was spreading was fast and furious. Soon it had 20,000 views. Then 200,000. Then 2 million. By the time NBC got the clip removed it had garnered some 10 million views, a number that doesn’t even include the multitude of spin-offs on every other social media platform. There was no way to make this go away. Most genies can’t be re-bottled. Not in 2021.
Even with the original video purged, the moment dominated Internet culture for 48 hours and counting. Even Tom Brady, scheduled to play The Match against DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers, joined the meme parade. (Koepka “liked” these, for those of you keeping score at home on your Internet bingo cards.)
Still, one major question remained. How did the video go from the cutting-room floor to the wild world of the open internet?
I started directly at the source, wondering how @RJWinfield had gotten his hands on the golf world’s hottest video of the year. Was he some undercover golf insider? A burner account for another player with an axe to grind? No. As it turns out, he’s — just a guy.
“Great question,” he told me. “I don’t have much of a story for you.”
Winfield had tracked down the video from another tweet, which had included a link to MediaSilo, which is essentially a secure way to share videos. Think YouTube, but completely private — you won’t be able to find a video on the platform unless, of course, you have the direct link. Multiple users had already posted the MediaSilo link — which was public and non-password protected — to Twitter, but none had gained any viral traction because the video wouldn’t play natively on Twitter. Winfield was the first to download it and upload directly to Twitter. “The rest is history,” he said.
He sent me the MediaSilo link, but the video had been removed. Winfield’s theory, shared by other sources with relevant knowledge of the situation, was that that MediaSilo link was the link sent from a Tour insider to somebody on the outside. It’s a perfectly plausible explanation; sharing funny links is essentially the foundation of the internet.
Winfield apologized for not being more helpful, but he’d actually been quite helpful in ruling out several conspiracy theories floating about. This wasn’t an intentional leak by a player or organization. It was a funny video that got into the hands of a Twitter user with a sense of humor and cursory knowledge of mp4s. Its viral spread had been organic after all.
But there’s more intrigue to the story. Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that Koepka himself had requested the clip from a Golf Channel contact to watch himself and send to friends for a laugh. He hadn’t intended for it to spread so widely, the sources said, but he might not have cared that it did, either. Remember how the video ended?
“I honestly wouldn’t even care,” Koepka said.
Maybe he meant it.
When contacted by GOLF.com, Koepka’s agent, Blake Smith, said he had “no comment regarding the video.” He did not respond to a follow-up question about if and why Koepka had requested the video in the first place.
The reaction to the video has been decidedly mixed. Some people empathized with Koepka and his exasperation. Others thought he came off as unpleasant.
So why did Koepka get so thrown by DeChambeau’s appearance in the first place? Some users guessed he’d muttered something, while others figured it was just the noise of his metal spikes on the cart path that had triggered Koepka’s eye-roll response.
A representative for DeChambeau insisted that DeChambeau was just reviewing the end of his round with caddie Tim Tucker as they walked to the scoring area, and that he essentially didn’t even notice Koepka’s presence nor did he say anything to Koepka whatsoever. DeChambeau’s best guess seemed to be that Koepka was bothered by his metal spikes, based off an Instagram comment he left.
“You know you can fix spike marks now,” he wrote under the video, adding a laughing emoji.
After another, more successful Golf Channel video hit, Koepka stepped into the media tent to take questions from reporters. He wasn’t in a particularly chatty mood, grading his round a C-plus. “It was okay,” he said. Asked whether one 8-iron he’d hit from a bush had been a hard shot, he went classic Koepka.
“What, out of the bush? I don’t know, you tell me,” he said. “It was in a bush.”
After a couple more questions, Koepka left the media tent just as DeChambeau came in. The two walked directly past each other, but neither appeared to acknowledge the other’s presence.
At the microphone, DeChambeau, like Koepka, talked about the wind making putting difficult. He talked about being satisfied as well as frustrated with a one-under 71. There was plenty of overlap in their interviews, if not their personalities.
Now what? Golf Channel succeeded in getting the original video removed from Twitter and also have been conducting an internal investigation to figure out the source of the leak. “Golf Channel representatives have spoken directly to both Koepka and DeChambeau,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said.
You may have seen what has followed. The tweets. The back-and-forth. DeChambeau suggesting he’s in Koepka’s head, “rent-free.” Koepka suggesting the opposite. The exchange feels less serious than the original video. That felt serious.
DeChambeau, for one, seems like he’s ready to move on.
“Enough is enough,” he told GOLF.com via text.
He can only be partially right. These guys play the same golf tournaments. They use the same locker rooms. Soon, we’ll see them in the same place again.
The golf world be watching closely.