‘Kind’ Bryson DeChambeau stands firm over Koepka spat before Open

Ekt must be exhausting being Bryson DeChambeau. In the course of a 15-minute visit to the Open Championship’s media centre, golf’s self-styled mad scientist was taken on the kind of whirlwind tour of topics that leaves onlookers wondering where to begin.

In no particular order DeChambeau was asked to address: poor performances in this major, his supposed unwillingness to shout fore, his ongoing spat with Brooks Koepka, emulating Tiger Woods on the Open scene, the Ryder Cup, a recent charity match in Montana and relations with a new caddie. In conclusion, he was asked whether recurring criticism hurts his feelings.

'Wel, I think it makes it emotionally a little more difficult to, I would say, resolve that because in my heart of hearts, I really think I’m a great person,” he replied. “A really good person to be around, a kind person to be around.

“My parents were nice enough to give their whole lives to help me play golf. I played at a public golf course and country club every once in a while when I got the chance. It was humble beginnings. I hope people can realise if you work hard enough, you can be successful in life. That’s really my goal. And yes, at times it can be difficult, but at the same time, I’ve just got to keep pressing forward.”

The golf world is curious in the sense that those within it routinely – and not unreasonably – bemoan the lack of characters at the summit of the game. DeChambeau is umpteen things but he is most definitely different. He brings eyes and ears towards golf. Lacerating the 2020 US Open champion because he refuses to follow convention seems wholly unfair.

Not that failure to deliver fore shouts is appropriate. “I do shout fore,” he insisted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. There are plenty of people on the tee box that do shout fore. You’re bringing up a very controversial thing, which is unfortunate, maar 99% of the time I do, and unfortunately people think I don’t. But that’s OK, they can say whatever they want.” The Californian’s questioner appeared wholly unconvinced.

By the time DeChambeau appeared for pre-Open media duties, Koepka had claimed he will continue to “take his shots” at his Ryder Cup teammate. Koepka claims DeChambeau “didn’t hold up his end of the bargain” after a discussion about keeping their differences private. “Now it’s fair game,” added Koepka. The R&A, unfortunately for those of us who revel in sporting theatre, did not pair DeChambeau and Koepka together for rounds one and two of this championship. What chance a weekend joust?

“He can say whatever he wants,” DeChambeau said. “I think he said something about back at Liberty National, not upholding something. I don’t know what he’s talking about in that regard. Maybe that’s on me. Maybe I didn’t. I really don’t remember anything about that. We just had a conversation that I really don’t know what happened, because we haven’t really bantered back and forth until now.

“Besides that, I’m just here to play golf and focus on that. If we want to keep bantering back and forth, obviously being respectful and keeping lines where they aren’t getting crossed, ja, I think it’s fun and a good environment for people in golf.”

A record of missed cut, tied 51st and missed cut suggests DeChambeau’s game is not suited at all to the Open. “I love links golf," hy het gesê. “I have shot low numbers over here before but it’s about putting it together for four rounds and making sure my game is pretty repeatable.”

DeChambeau’s ferocious power game looks useful early in Open week, with the fairways in Sandwich noticeably soft. Yet with dry weather almost exclusively forecast for the tournament days, die wêreld Nee 6 may be wise to switch strategies. He conceded as much, when asked whether Woods’s famous strategy to hit irons off tees en route to victory in 2006 was a consideration.

“A thousand per cent, no doubt,” DeChambeau, 27, gesê. “I think what he showcased is an awesome ability to play it on the ground, play links on the ground, which is the way it should be played, I personally think, albeit I do something completely different. I have the utmost respect for that style of play. I think there’s certain advantages to hitting it long in certain places, but not everywhere.

“There will be certain holes where there is a lot of wind and you can’t really control the golf ball with that type of wind, where it bounces, how it bounces. So keeping it low and on the ground, if it gets firm, is definitely something I would utilise.”

The R&A’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers, was in the room for much of the DeChambeau press conference. Maybe Slumbers feared a controversial moment, maybe he is as intrigued by the ongoing drama attached to this
player as the rest of us.

DeChambeau may not win the Open – it would actually be a surprise should he prevail – but his is a narrative filled with fascination.

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