Brooks Koepka concentrating on Shriners Children’s Open, not Bryson DeChambeau and The Match

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LAS VEGAS – Ahead of the Ryder Cup, Brooks Koepka on multiple occasions downplayed his lengthy, on-going quarrel with Bryson DeChambeau by saying he could put up with anybody for a week.

Friction between the two feuding stars was feared in the team room but Koepka was good to his word and they buried the hatchet for the week and eventually hugged in front of the assembled media Sunday night after Team USA dismantled Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Well, Koepka will put up with DeChambeau for at least another day.

The two will go mano a mano the day after Thanksgiving in the fifth playing of The Match, a 12-hole faceoff at The Wynn Golf Club on the Las Vegas Strip. To many, it’s an odd pairing considering the back and forth between the two, which escalated this summer to the point that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stated fans heckling DeChambeau with chants of “Brooksie” would be subjected to ejection from the tournament.

“Yeah, I mean I think we’re excited (about The Match). So it’s going to be good, you’ll see it, what, the day after Thanksgiving?” Koepka said Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s start of the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin.

When asked when discussions for The Match begin, Koepka was just as blunt.

“I don’t know,” he said. “You can ask Bryson.”

And that was it. Koepka offered up nothing else on The Match. Judging from body language and the lack of long verbal responses for months, you can say the two aren’t buddies. They aren’t hateful enemies, either. Perhaps they are reluctant acquaintances, in a complicated way.

Whatever, it’s a relationship that will keep on giving at least one more time.

Ryder Cup 2021
Ryder Cup 2021

Team USA player Brooks Koepka looks on on the sixth green during day two foursomes rounds for the 43rd Ryder Cup golf competition at Whistling Straits. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Koepka did compliment DeChambeau and his powerful transformation that has taken him to new, eye-popping distances on the PGA Tour. And he marveled at DeChambeau’s achievement in last week’s Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship where he made it to the Round of 8 before being eliminated.

“I think it’s going to change the game of golf forever,” Koepka said of DeChambeau’s pursuit of more power. “If you’re going to hit it that far and you find a couple fairways, it’s tough to beat. It does get very difficult when you got wedge into hole where guys got 6-iron. Your odds are going to be in your favor.

“That’s what he’s done. It’s impressive to be able to actually change a body, change the way you swing and yet still compete out here. I think that’s probably the most impressive thing. I don’t think anybody really thought he was going to get that far (in the Long Drive competition), but the fact he did was quite impressive. So I think and it’s one of those things you’re seeing with all these younger guys.

“I think you’re just going to continually see that type of distance come from the kids that are in college or high school now that will be out here in five, six years.”

Koepka has plenty of distance, one of the many talents he has in his arsenal that have led him to winning four major championships. Last year he won his eighth PGA Tour title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Now, if he can just stay healthy. In recent years, the 31-year-old has dealt with knee, wrist, hip, and neck issues that have cost him time on the PGA Tour and forced him to work around the various injuries.

“I’m still looking for that answer, man,” Koepka said when asked what he could do to stay healthy. “I don’t know. I still think I’m like 22, 23, 24 in my head, but realizing that my body can’t do the things that I used to do. I tend to take it a little bit slower and just be more cautious, I think, whether it be in the gym, at home doing certain things messing around.

“I’m not as mobile as I was years ago. So just be a little more cautious and watch it. Some things you can’t avoid, you’re always going to be a little, I don’t want to say dinged up, but a little bit, you feel something. But it’s just part of the game. You don’t feel 100 percent every week and you’re not going to.

“But just really trying to minimize the big stuff.”

Koepka looked to be just fine in the Ryder Cup, where he went 2-2-0.

“I feel like my game’s trending in the right direction. I like how everything went at the Ryder Cup,” said Koepka, who has two top-5 finishes in five starts at TPC Summerlin. “I feel like I finally saw the turn, because I thought this whole year after the injury was pretty poor. I like where the game’s headed.”

That includes his putting, which has plagued him here and there. He started to work with his putting coach, Jeff Pierce, on AimPoint and used it for the first time in the Ryder Cup.

“It wasn’t the fact I was lining up wrong or the stroke was bad, it was my green reading,” he said. “It’s just using it kind of more as not the answer, more of a double check or having an idea where this putt should be breaking, then get behind it, bend down, look at it, do my normal thing.

“They both work. Plus it takes a little bit off of having to bend down all the time on the knees, so it’s a double added bonus.”

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Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka will square off in the next 'Match.' Here are the details.