It began with a look of pure annoyance and frustration, spiraled into a meme and then a beer company got involved. Yes, everybody is talking about the ongoing spat between golfers Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
A video clip of Koepka losing his train of thought “hearing that bulls**t” as DeChambeau walked behind him in the middle of an interview went viral at May’s PGA Championship.
And so a new template for the next viral meme was born, with the most willing user being NFL superstar and seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.
The 43-year-old quarterback trolled DeChambeau upon the announcement of both their involvement in the upcoming ‘The Match III’ — alongside Phil Mickelson and Aaron Rodgers — with a series of memes aimed at the 2020 U.S. Open winner.
The feud between Koepka and DeChambeau has continued to simmer. Fans heckled DeChambeau at the Memorial Tournament, shouting “Brooksie” as he walked past, and reportedly being ejected from the event as a result.
Then Koepka posted a video offering free beer for any spectators kicked out of the Memorial Tournament for heckling DeChambeau.
Koepka says he thinks the rivalry might be good for golf.
“The fact that golf’s on pretty much every news outlet for about two weeks pretty consistently, I think that’s a good thing,” Koepka told reporters during a press conference ahead of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. “It’s growing the game.
“The younger generation — I get the traditionalists who don’t agree with it. I understand that, but I think to grow the game you’ve got to reach out to the younger generation, and I think that’s what — I don’t want to say that’s what this is — but it’s reaching out to a whole bunch of people.
“It’s getting golf in front of people.”
DeChambeau isn’t opposed to it either.
“I think it’s fun,” he said in his press conference ahead of the U.S. Open. “There’s a point where it’s great banter.
“I personally love it. I think that, as time goes on, I hope on the weekend we can play against each other and compete. I think it would be fun and would be great for the game.
Rivalries between golfers are not uncommon. There’s been Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus and, more recently, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson.
But the age of social media has really helped to amplify the Koepka-DeChambeau spat.
The initial clip of Koepka’s frustration at DeChambeau was an outtake from a Golf Channel interview that was leaked on social media.
The memes exchanged between the players amplified tensions, with DeChambeau posting a headshot of Koepka with a smaller image of himself on his Instagram story saying he was living “rent free” in the four-time major winner’s head.
Their exchanges on social media have had fans liking, commenting and giving their opinions on the spat. And after the recent announcement of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) designed to reward players who positively drive fan and sponsor engagement, DeChambeau doesn’t mind being involved.
“I think golf is changing; it’s evolving, so there’s going to come a time where it is going to be like this, and if I’m the person to take the brunt of it and whatever, you know, great,” DeChambeau said following the Memorial Tournament. “I’m happy that there’s more conversations about me because of the PIP fund.”
The PIP will award the top-10 most popular players based on a composite score of their media exposure from a reported fund of $40 million.
And Koepka himself has no regrets about the video surfacing. “It doesn’t bother me, honestly,” he said.
“I’m okay with anything I do. I don’t really live with regrets. It’s nothing I’m terribly upset about. From everybody I spoke to, it is what it is and move on.”
Not having an effect
With the rivalry taking flight over social media, fans of the entertainment have been egging on the two giants of the game.
That’s why, with the U.S. Open starting on Thursday at Torrey Pines, some were clamoring for a Koepka and DeChambeau pairing on the opening day of the season’s third major.
Although the pair have been split for the opening two rounds, as two of the games top players, the duo could both be included in Team USA for the upcoming Ryder Cup in September.
The hotly contested USA vs. Europe biannual competition, which was delayed from last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, is being held at Whistling Straits.
However, when asked about whether he thinks their spat could prove a distraction to the 12-man team, Koepka poured cold water on that idea.
“I don’t see why it would,” he said. “There’s only eight guys that are playing [and] four guys are sitting, whatever. I mean, I play with one other guy.
“Let’s say I don’t play with Bryson or Bryson doesn’t play with me; he takes care of his match, and I would take care of my match, and I don’t know how that has any effect. What you do off the golf course doesn’t have any effect on the golf course.”