Tour Confidential: Who has the better U.S. Open finish: Bryson or Brooks?
Check in each day of this week’s U.S. Open for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topic in the tournament, and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com.
The USGA didn’t give the golf world the Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau grouping many were lobbying for, but all eyes will still be on both players come Thursday at Torrey Pines for the first round of the U.S. Open. Who do you think finishes higher: Brooks or Bryson? And does not being in the same group help one more than the other?
Sean Zak, senior editor (@sean_zak): Brooks finishes higher, but they both card top 15 finishes. BK is just so good at avoiding bogeys and doubles during U.S. Opens. Look to his finish at Shinnecock for the best proof of that. Bryson has bowed out of majors recently (see: 2020, 2021 Masters) with big numbers. I think both players are distinctly favored with a Torrey setup, but I refuse to choose anyone but Koepka at these big events.
Tim Reilly, Director of Social (@LifeofTimReilly): Bryson finishes higher. While Brooks was taking and tweeting, Bryson kept his mouth shut. He’s ready to let his play do the talking, and there’s no doubt he’s coming in with extra motivation to prove a point. He knows Brooks has a few talking points over him with those four majors, and Bryson won’t stop until he gets there. I think not playing together Thursday and Friday benefits Bryson more than Brooks. The fans are a little more vocal on Brooks’ side. …
Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor (@Jess_Marksbury): I’ve been guilty of using Koepka’s regular-season play as justification for underestimating him at the majors. He has since admitted that for him, the majors just hit different. He gears up for them like few others. Clearly, there’s no stopping this guy! I fully expect him to contend this week and finish ahead of Bryson, too. And it’s definitely beneficial for Bryson to avoid a grouping with Brooks. Galleries have already proven they’re ready to bother Bryson with Brooks taunts even when Koepka isn’t even in the field, so hopefully keeping them separated results in minimal distractions outside the ropes.
Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): I’ll go with Bryson. Not playing in the same group as Brooks will definitely help him out, as I think the crowd might have favored Koepka in that scenario. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about that and can rip driver and see if his Winged Foot-like plan can work again. I also believe this little feud or whatever you feel like calling it could be motivating for him.
Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): I think the benefits of the draw cut both ways. I bet Bryson is relieved not to have the distraction of his needling foil walking beside him. And Brooks is probably happy not to be playing with a guy who goes about things at a far more deliberate pace than he does. Though Koepka says the pairings don’t matter to him, he’s made it pretty clear that Bryson’s grinding approach gets under his skin. As for the score, they will finish in a tie for second (behind … Xander Schauffele?) and then try to settle matters with a much-hyped arm-wrestling match, posted on TikTok. When that, too, ends in a draw, it will be on to Words with Friends.
Nick Piastowski, senior editor (@nickpia): Brooks. And this is no knock on how Bryson will play. He will defend his championship well. But Koepka was dangerous at majors before this past month — now he just tossed another log onto his inner flame. Unlike maybe any player currently in the game, he plays his best when the temperature is up. As for who benefits the most from not being grouped together, you got to think it’s Bryson here. Brooks wants the chants. We’ve seen that Bryson does not.