|Dates: 24-26 September Venue: Whistling Straits, Wisconsin|
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American players Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are unlikely to be paired together during the Ryder Cup, says US captain Steve Stricker.
Koepka and DeChambeau have had a long-running rivalry which has seen them exchange barbs and led to fans becoming involved by throwing insults.
The duo are team-mates as the US aim to beat Europe and regain the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits this weekend.
On pairing them up, Stricker said: “It could always happen. But probably not.”
Four-time major champion Koepka, 31, and DeChambeau – who won his first major at the 2020 US Open – have been publicly at loggerheads in recent seasons.
Koepka said 28-year-old DeChambeau was “fair game” after “not holding up his end of the bargain” in a row of quotes and social media comments that he says began in 2019.
DeChambeau has previously described it as “banter back and forth”, but showed his annoyance at last month’s BMW Championship on the PGA Tour by swearing at a fan who shouted “Brooksie” at him after he lost a play-off to Patrick Cantlay.
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Stricker has played down any tension between the pair and insists it will not affect his team’s hopes of winning the Ryder Cup.
“It’s a non-issue, really, for me and the team,” Stricker said in a pre-tournament news conference at Whistling Straits on Monday.
“We got together a few weeks ago [with his five vice-captains] and I’ve had conversations with them both. They have assured me it’s not going to be an issue. I have no worries whatsoever.
“Will we pair them together? I don’t think so at this point but things could change.
“But again, I had a dinner; they all showed up. We had great conversation, great talks. So I’m not seeing it as an issue at all and they are completely on board.”
Koepka has been an injury doubt for the three-day event after injuring his wrist during the season-ending Tour Championship earlier this month, but Stricker said the two-time Ryder Cup player is “100% ready” for the event.
The 43rd staging of the biennial event takes place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from Friday to Sunday.
Europe have won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups and are the defending champions after winning 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018.
How the ‘feud’ has unfolded
January 2019: The rivalry between Koepka and DeChambeau seemingly began with Koepka saying he didn’t “understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds to hit a golf ball”. He added “it really drives me nuts” after watching video footage of DeChambeau going through some calculations before hitting a shot.
DeChambeau, who has bulked up significantly to help his efforts to hit the ball further, defended his approach and pointed out “the Rules of Golf allow for a certain amount of time, and we’re (using it) to our fullest potential”.
August 2019: Two days after going viral for taking three minutes to hit a 70-yard pitch shot, DeChambeau and Koepka spoke ‘face-to-face’ and the former said their simmering row had “got blown out of proportion”.
A podcast that focuses on the PGA Tour then asked who would win a theoretical heavyweight title bout. DeChambeau said: “We know who would win that fight and it’s not me.” A laughing Koepka said: “He’s got that right.”
January 2020: DeChambeau breaks the silence, calling out Koepka’s abs on Twitch. Koepka’s response was outstanding, the four-time major champion using his major trophies to do the talking.
July 2020: It all went quiet for a while during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic as golf was cancelled. But DeChambeau unwitting reignited the playground spat when asking for a free drop under a “dangerous situation” rule, believing his ball was near a fire ants nest. He was denied.
The following day Koepka was in a similar position and pointing to the ground said “look there’s an ant”, before saying “nah, just kidding”.
October 2020: DeChambeau wins his first major, the US Open. Koepka missed it through injury but when asked about it, he replied: “I didn’t watch a shot of it. I didn’t see anything.” And later that month on an Instagram Q&A he said he “chose not to” talk about DeChambeau, adding: “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
May 2021: Koepka appeared to be distracted by DeChambeau walking past in a metal spikes in an unaired interview at the US PGA Championship in which the former went on to criticise the latter.
On 26 May, Koepka posted a message on Twitter that read “Sorry bro @AaronRodgers12” after the NFL quarterback was paired with DeChambeau for ‘The Match’ against Phil Mickelson and another NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
DeChambeau responded by saying he was “living rent free” in Koepka’s head so Koepka retweeted a video of a fan calling DeChambeau “Brooksie” during a practice round at the US PGA Championship.
June 2021: Koepka tweeted a video message in which he thanked fans for their support at the Memorial Tournament despite him not playing.
A number of spectators were escorted from Muirfield Village for shouting “Brooksie” at DeChambeau.
Koepka reacted to the news by posting a video on social media offering to reimburse any spectator whose day was “cut short” with a free case of beer.
August 2021: After his play-off defeat by Cantlay in the BMW Championship, DeChambeau swore in response to a fan who mocked him by saying “great job, Brooksie”.
Hecklers were warned by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan they could face expulsion from the course if they abused the players.
More warnings have been issued before this week’s Ryder Cup, although the partisan crowd is likely to be pulling for the American team as a whole.
The rivalry could inspire the US rather than hinder them, says Europe captain Padraig Harrington.