Fans hoping to see golf’s biggest feud move from Twitter to the tee box will be disappointed after Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau were drawn in separate groups for the opening two rounds of this week’s US Open.
Koepka did little to disguise his contempt for DeChambeau during a TV interview at last month’s US PGA Championship, rolling his eyes as his rival walked behind him. The golfers then proceeded to trade barbs on social media, although how real the animosity is, is up for debate.
Indeed, on Tuesday Koepka admitted the story was good for the game. “Pretty much everything you look at online, it’s got this in the headline, or it’s up there as a big new story. To me, that’s growing the game. You’re putting it in front of eyeballs, you’re putting it in front of people who probably don’t normally look at golf, don’t play it. It might get them involved. I don’t know how it’s not growing the game.”
DeChambeau’s agent, meanwhile, denied reports his client had declined an offer from the USGA to pair the two together.
“The USGA did not reach out to Bryson regarding a potential pairing with Brooks Koepka,” Brett Falkoff told ESPN. “Bryson is fully focused on defending the US Open at Torrey Pines this week.” Koepka also confirmed he had not been approached by the USGA about playing with DeChambeau. “It doesn’t matter to me, I play my own game. I don’t care who I’m paired with … What happens inside the ropes, it won’t bother me,” he said.
Whatever the truth, Tuesday’s groupings went with tradition. DeChambeau, the defending US Open champion, will play alongside the current US amateur champion, Tyler Strafaci, and the winner of this year’s Masters, Hideki Matsuyama. Koepka is in a group at Torrey Pines with fellow former US PGA champions Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.
The two are unlikely to see each other on the course in the opening rounds.
Koepka’s group starts at 7.29am local time on Thursday, while DeChambeau will not tee off until 1.14pm. They could still be grouped together in the final two rounds if they are on similar scores.
Other notable pairings include a trio of former Open champions – Henrik Stenson, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry – and a group of former US Open champions, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Phil Mickelson, who became the oldest major winner in history with his victory at the US PGA in May, is in a group with Xander Schauffele and Max Homa. If Mickelson wins at Torrey Pines, located in his hometown of San Diego, this week it will complete his career grand slam.
“It’s a unique opportunity because I’ve never won a US Open,” Mickelson said on Monday. “It’s in my backyard. I have a chance to prepare properly, and I wanted to put in the right work. So I’ve kind of shut off all the noise. I’ve shut off my phone. I’ve shut off a lot of the other stuff to where I can focus in on his week and really give it my best chance to try to play my best.” Mickelson added that he had put extra work into studying the course for this year’s tournament. “I put a lot of time in on the greens, because even though they’re not at tournament speed, I needed to relearn and see the breaks and know what the ball does on these greens,” Mickelson said.
“Because when you see the way the ball rolls, you know where you have to be for your approach, and you know what kind of shot if the best shot to hit into certain approaches.
DeChambeau won his first major at last year’s US Open, where he finished six shots ahead of second-placed Matthew Wolff. Koepka is a two-time champion at the US Open, having won the title in 2017 and 2018.