Rivalries make the sports world go ’round. What’s college football without the Iron Bowl or the Red River Shootout (fine… Red River Rivalry)? What’s baseball without the Yankees vs. the Red Sox? You could honestly go on and on naming all kinds of rivalries across the entire spectrum of sports. The common thread is that rivalries add a special dimension on top of the already existing elite-level competition. They make for compelling stories and must-watch events. Well, now we’ve got a golf rivalry, and the sport is better off for it.
Brooks the Brash
Brooks Koepka cannot exactly be confused for being the most congenial player on the PGA Tour. Generally speaking, he sees himself having one job to do in any given tournament, and that is to go out and try to win. To be fair, most all pros have the same attitude. But Brooks is actively NOT trying to make friends. His recent track record speaks to a level of success, too. Among his eight PGA Tour wins, he successfully won the US Open in back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018 and then did the same at the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019. Dating back to 2014, he also has 10 other top 10 finishes among the four majors, including a second-place finish at the 2019 US Open and a tie for second in the 2019 Masters and 2021 PGA Championship. In other words, the guy puts his money where his mouth is.
Bryson the Bulky
Bryson DeChambeau wasn’t always chasing distance. A quirky physics graduate of Southern Methodist University, he’s always taken a more analytical approach to the game. Formerly a bit more slight in his frame, the weirdest thing about him used to be that he kept all of his irons the same length. Ever a student of science, technology, and the game of golf, he’s continually used all three to optimize his performance. Here lately, that’s meant packing on the muscle in search of distance, as evidenced by his aggressive over-the-lake tee shot at this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. His methodical approach to the game seems to be working for him, though. With eight victories under his belt, including the 2020 US Open, he’s found something that works.
Clash of Personalities
Part of what makes this golf rivalry so great is their clash of personalities. Brooks is the kind of golfer who, as stated earlier, is out there the win and not make friends. One could argue that Bryson is the same way, though, a bit different. Over the course of his career thus far, Bryson has faced criticism many times already due to his tendency to take too much time analyzing and executing a shot. Furthermore, he’s so well-versed in his knowledge of the game and rules of golf that he rubs some the wrong way when trying to take advantage of situations – like this “burrowing animal” claim. I mean, let’s see what Koepka thought of that situation…
The Eye Roll to End All Eye Rolls
We’ve all seen the leaked clip. Koepka was giving an interview after the second round of this year’s PGA Championship when his best friend… I mean Bryson walked behind him saying something to his own caddie. Take it away, Brooks (strong language incoming).
The best part of all of this is that it spurred on a series of Twitter memes from none other than the GOAT, Tom Brady, over the upcoming match pitting Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau up against Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson. Well, actually, maybe this was the best part of that whole thing…
@BKoepka It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) May 26, 2021
The most recent episode came two weekends ago at the Memorial Tournament. On several occasions, fans following DeChambeau’s group taunted him with strategic (READ during his swing) utterances of his rival’s name. While one incident was explained away as a mistaken identity (yeah, sure), the police and security took notice. Ultimately, multiple patrons were removed from the tournament grounds, though Bryson insisted he had nothing to do with that. He claimed his only issue was their timing, not what they were saying. Yet again, though, Koepka had something to say about it, even though he wasn’t even playing in the tournament.
Good For Golf, Good For Us
While this undoubtedly annoys some out there because both players have their own arrogance about them, such rivalries have rarely been seen in golf. Players tried for years to get a piece of Tiger, but every time a challenger arose, they quickly faded back into the pack. Some people who might rather watch paint dry suddenly might have piqued curiosity about following this budding golf rivalry (that has actually been brewing for several years now). Many casual fans who might not otherwise turn on the TV on a Saturday or Sunday to watch golf or might not be interested in attending a tournament in person now have a reason. For those of us who follow it regularly, the added ongoing rivalry brings a whole new angle into every weekend that Brooks and Bryson tee off in the same tournament. Fans are begging to see them paired together, but the USGA is having none of it. At least not at the US Open this weekend. This is unfortunate. Think of the dollars… I mean viewers that they’re missing out on. Oh well. We can dream, right? One day it will happen. One day.
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