Bryson DeChambeau makes pit stop in Detroit, amid white-hot feud with Brooks Koepka

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning Rocket Mortgage Classic champion whose dominance at Detroit Golf Club last summer led to an endorsement deal with the title company, was in a chatty mood back in town Monday.

He loves the tournament's goal of ending Detroit's digital divide by 2025, he's hitting it farther (apparently, that was possible), and he believes his game and body will hold up to win a major at age 50, a la Phil Mickelson.

What DeChambeau wasn't all that interested in discussing, though, was his boiling rivalry with Brooks Koepka.

Bryson DeChambeau is one of seven major champions who will play in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The dueling golf superstars aren't friends, and that's become increasingly clear over the past several weeks.

"Fine," DeChambeau said Monday, standing on the 15th tee at DGC and describing his relationship with Koepka. "I've personally got no issue. It's something that he's up for discussion. If you want to talk to him about that, you can. But I've got no issues."

DeChambeau and Koepka are different fellas. DeChambeau is corporate and great at staying on message — like he does after every victory, thanking sponsors like Rocket Mortgage or OneStream Software, based in Rochester, among a litany of others. Koepka is more laid-back, willing to speak his mind on issues that don't necessarily pad his bank account.

More: Golf tourney announces new program to close Detroit's digital gap

The so-called feud initially started when Koepka, arguably the fastest player on the PGA Tour, called out DeChambeau, the mad scientist who is among the most meticulous, for slow play.

Then last month, the public was let in on just how unfriendly they are, when a Golf Channel interview with Koepka that never aired was leaked on social media. In it, Koepka rolled his eyes and uttered some expletives as DeChambeau was walking behind him during the shot.

This past week at the Memorial in suburban Columbus, Ohio, fans were shouting "Brooksie" at DeChambeau — Koepka wasn't in the field — and, apparently, DeChambeau had a couple fans removed. In response, Koepka posted a Twitter video offering free beer for any fan whose day was "cut short."

The two have traded some occasional barbs on social media, as well.

"That's something that's for another time," DeChambeau said. "Obviously, this is for the Rocket Mortgage here, and I want to show as much support for the Rocket Mortgage compared to talking about that. That's something the Tour can handle."

Feuds in golf are nothing new, and it's usually a personality clash more than anything.

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer didn't get along early in their rivalry, nor did Tiger Woods and Mickelson. Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros had issues. Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez nearly came to blows once on the golf course.

Famously, Nicklaus and Palmer made up and became great friends, and Woods and Mickelson seem to be on that trajectory.

It's hard to envision a similar reconciliation for DeChambeau, 27, and Koepka, 31, and that's fine. Rivalries can be good for the sport. Clearly, the fans are enjoying it, as evidenced by their vocal barbs toward DeChambeau at the Memorial.

"I think a good jesting rivalry is good for the game," said DeChambeau, an eight-time PGA Tour winner who also is the defending U.S. Open champion. "Nothing too extreme. That's all, you know, outside of the spectrum of what we're here for today.

"I think the 'Change the Course' initiative (to end Detroit's digital divide) is something that's bigger than the game of golf, compared to a rivalry."

The third annual Rocket Mortgage Classic is July 1-4.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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