Bryson DeChambeau-Brooks Koepka Part II is in play at the Hero World Challenge

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NASSAU, Bahamas – Ready for a sequel?

A rematch between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka is in play through 36 holes of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club. Last week, in Las Vegas, Koepka spanked DeChambeau, 5 and 3, in a 12-hole bout in the Match V.

The two set up a potential final-round pairing with stellar rounds on another pleasant day in the Bahamas, with DeChambeau making 10 birdies and shooting 8-under-par 64 in Friday’s second round to grab a one-shot lead at 11 under. Koepka made six birdies en route to shooting a 67 to move to 10 under, where he shares second place with Collin Morikawa (66) and Tony Finau (66).

Unlike last week ahead of the mano-a-mano between Koepka and DeChambeau, however, there aren’t many words of hype. In fact, there were no words from DeChambeau, who refused to talk with the print media following his round. While talking with Jimmy Roberts on Golf Channel, he did say it would be “sweet” if he were paired with Koepka. In a later interview with Golf Channel, he said he’s very happy with his driver.

As for a pairing with Koepka, DeChambeau, an 8-time PGA Tour winner who is 0-for-8 when holding at least a share of the 36-hole lead, will have to wait. In the third round, he’ll be alongside Morikawa while Koepka will be out with Finau.

As for Koepka’s take on a possible Match V, Part II, he isn’t thinking about it.

“I don’t give any thought to it because there should be no Part 2,” he said. “I mean, I won the online battle, he can’t trash talk, and I’ve won the golf.

“So 2‑0, it’s tough to come back from.”

Koepka is far more concerned – and happy – about his improving ways. His last top 10 came in July in the British Open and he missed his last two cuts before heading to Las Vegas to defeat DeChambeau. But he’s worked his tail off for the past month to get used to his new equipment – he’s now playing Cleveland/Srixon irons and wedges and the Srixon ball – and get his swing back in order as he deals with various injuries, most notably to his right knee that sent him into minor changes that damaged his form.

“It’s one thing to try (the new equipment) out in like a 12‑hole exhibition, but when you come out here under the gun and really try to shape shots and a little more serious, seeing the ball react the way I want it to, seeing the wedges, the driver, I’ve been so pleased with it and very happy,” he said. “I told some of the guys, it was just all me, I was swinging it poorly, so it’s tough to blame it on anything else. But now that I’ve got my swing under somewhat control – it’s not 100 percent but it’s really, really close – we’re figuring it out and I’m just happy with everything right now.

“Day by day it’s always getting a little bit better where it feels kind of back to, I wouldn’t say normal yet, but it’s getting there. A lot of it was just the little idiosyncrasies that your body just makes up for. I was never trying to stay off my right leg, but it just kind of naturally happens. I notice it even when I’m standing certain ways, I kind of stand on my left leg a little bit more. So things like that.

“My stance was the big thing, it got so wide.”

Hero World Challenge 2021
Hero World Challenge 2021

Brooks Koepka watches his third shot during the second round of the Hero World Challenge PGA Tour at the Albany Golf Club, in New Providence, Bahamas, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Koepka will return to play after this week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, but he won’t stop working.

“As frustrated as I’ve been over the last two years with where my game’s at, like I said yesterday, there’s four or five top 20s outside of majors and WGCs, so that’s not good enough, not good enough for me,” he said. “We’re going to chill next week, go on a little family vacation, but after that, pick the clubs up and just keep grinding away.”

As for the Hero, Koepka and DeChambeau aren’t stealing the show and many others in the loaded field of 20 players have chances to win, including Morikawa, who would become No. 1 in the world with a victory.

It would be a fantastic capper to a huge 2021 where he won his second major in the British Open and became the first American to win the Race to Dubai on the DP World Tour. And earlier this week on the island paradise, he got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Katherine Zhu.

But he’s not mentally or physically drained and has plenty left in the tank.

“When it comes to the golf course and it comes to us winning, there’s a lot of energy, for sure,” he said. “The putting feels good, which is great. I’ve just got to keep that up and just hit some good shots and get it in the fairways a little more often for these last two days.”

And there are plenty of others in the waiting, among those within four shots of the lead being Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Sam Burns, and Daniel Berger.

The last two days promise to be quite a show, even if DeChambeau and Koepka don’t make it a two-man show.