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HAVEN, Wis. – Bryson DeChambeau has already taken it on the chin this week.
Less than 12 hours after setting foot on the grounds of Whistling Straits for the 43rd Ryder Cup, this summer’s punching bag got tagged again.
No, it had nothing to do with “Brooksie,” or the print media, or his equipment, or his ex-caddie, or COVID-19, or the South Course’s back nine at Torrey Pines.
Instead, Daniel Berger knocked DeChambeau around.
“I lost in ping-pong, which kind of stinks, to Daniel,” DeChambeau said Tuesday at Whistling Straits about his confrontation in the team room Monday night. “He beat me. There are obviously excuses I could make, but I won’t.
“I’m pretty sour about it. I’m going to get him back.”
It was a light-hearted moment during his first meeting with a large gathering of print media since the first week of August, when his controversial comments concerning his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine caused wicked backlash.
That was just part of a hard, turbulent summer for DeChambeau, highlighted by his public spat with Brooks Koepka, the two now teammates as the U.S. tries to win back the 4-pound, 17-inch tall gold cup that carries so much weight.
DeChambeau and Koepka has assured U.S. captain Steve Stricker that any friction between the two will not cause heartburn this week.
“A lot of this social media stuff has definitely been driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two,” DeChambeau said. “We had some great conversations Tour Championship week when we had dinner, and then this week, as well. I sat down and had dinner with him last night, and it was fine.
“I think there may be something fun coming up here moving forward, but I won’t speak too much more on that.”
What that meant was unclear. But what was clear was the abuse DeChambeau took at the hands of spectators calling him “Brooksie” since May, with the behavior of a few fans moving PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to say further such taunts could result in ejections.
At times during tournaments, the world No. 7 was visibly shaken.
“No matter what, we’re all humans at the end of the day, and I think there’s obviously a level of, I guess you could say, control that any human will ever have, and you can have a lot of armor and you can protect yourself with people around you and all that,” DeChambeau said. “Sure, there are times where it’s not comfortable, but there’s also times where it fuels me. I think this week is going to be an amazing example of it, and it’s going to be fun to be able to have the crowd behind us and pump them up and show them what I can hopefully do and what we can do as a team more importantly.
“This is about a team event. I’ve got a brass chest. I’ve taken a lot of heat. But I’m OK with it, and I understand I’m in the place where I’m at, and it’s going to be that way moving forward. I recognize it and all I’m going to do is my absolute best to show people who I truly am, and whatever people think about me is not important.
“It’s about the team this week. It’s about riling us all up and getting that Ryder Cup back here on U.S. home soil.”
DeChambeau also said his hands are just fine, thank you. He caused an uproar when he said his “hands were wrecked” after he did intense training for the World Long Drive Championships that begin next week. He has been criticized for concentrating on the long drive competition and neglecting his attention to the playoffs and the Ryder Cup.
Not so, he said. DeChambeau explained the intense training was the week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and he played well in the final three tournaments of the season, losing a 6-hole playoff to Patrick Cantlay in the BMW Championship.
“I’ve put full force focus into this event, and I think part of hitting it far is some of why I am so successful and how I could utilize my length on this golf course to potential advantage,” he said. “As well, I’ve been working on my wedging and putting nonstop.”
DeChambeau said his swing is faster than it was a few months back, and his length could give him a huge advantage on holes 1, 2, 5, 6 and 10, he said.
“There’s a whole list of holes where it’s going to be a huge advantage, I hope, if I’m hitting it in the fairway,” he said.
Or the green. DeChambeau could drive the 364-yard first, the 355-yard sixth and the 361-yard 10th if the wind is beneficial. And he could destroy the 603-yard, par-5 fifth, where he could cut the corner.
More Ryder Cup: Check the yardage book: Whistling Straits for the Ryder Cup
“It was there in the practice session and I had like 120 yards into that green,” he said. “Guys are going to be hitting it over to the left maybe and having a 3-wood or hybrid in.”
That practice session came last week when 11 of the 12 players – Koepka’s wrist injury kept him from attending – gathered for the two-day reconnaissance trip at Whistling Straits.
“It was a lot of fun seeing the team here, a lot of camaraderie,” he said. “Coming here this week, it felt like we were prepared already, like ready to go already, which is cool. It’s going to be fun to see what we can do and rile up the crowd in the right way and get us behind our backs and moving us in the direction we all want to be in, which is taking home that Cup.”