Koepka, DeChambeau to face off in made-for-TV match in Vegas
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau will finally get their match, even if it’s just 12 holes.
After butting heads in a dispute driven largely on social media for the better part of two years, Koepka and DeChambeau will face each other in the latest edition of “Capital One’s The Match” the day after Thanksgiving at Wynn Golf Course on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Nov. 26 exhibition will be shown on TNT and give everyone plenty of time to relive their back-and-forth that began at Liberty National in August 2019 and appeared to cool when they were teammates on the winning U.S. team at the Ryder Cup.
DeChambeau hinted at “something fun coming up here” during his news conference at the Ryder Cup. Koepka was asked about it two days later at his news conference and said: “I have no idea. I didn’t listen to the comment or hear what he said.”
Both will have open mics during the 12-hole match.
Koepka and DeChambeau have been paired together only four times on the PGA Tour, most recently in 2019 for the opening two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The other occasions were the third round of the Tour Championship in 2018 and the final round of the 2016 Masters, when DeChambeau was an amateur.
DeChambeau will be making his second appearance in the made-for-TV bonanza, having partnered with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in beating Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady last summer. Koepka is playing in it for the first time.
DeChambeau was in Las Vegas last week and reached the quarterfinals of the Long Drivers Association Championship, a remarkable feat considering he faced the world’s best at swinging as hard and launching as far as they could. He had a number of drives go 400 yards or more.
The exhibition, which began with Mickelson beating Tiger Woods in 2018 at Shadow Creek, has raised nearly $30 million for various charities and generated some 10 million meal donations.
NEXT UP IN RYDER CUP?
Sam Burns won for the second time this year on the PGA Tour, just 13 days after Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker broke the news that Burns would not be part of the U.S. team.
Burns can’t start earning points for the 2023 team until next year.
And if history is any indication, the U.S. team will feature plenty of newcomers. The Americans steamrolled Europe for the largest margin of victory — 19-9 — since the modern era began in 1979 by expanding Britain and Ireland to include continental Europe.
The U.S. team that won at Hazeltine by a 17-11 margin had only six players make it back to the team that went to France in 2018. That’s not unusual. Dating to 1981, there have been only six Ryder Cups where more than six Americans made it back to the next team.
One question is, who would be the six not at Whistling Straits?
Among those who missed out, besides Burns, were Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and the slumping Rickie Fowler. Matthew Wolff figured to be on the 2021 team when he tied for fourth and was runner-up in consecutive majors in 2020, but he went into a tailspin with his game and emotions. As for newcomers? Remember, Collin Morikawa was still in college when the previous Ryder Cup was played.
Perhaps the better question is, who won’t make it back?
The 1999 and 2012 teams had eight returning players. The two constants were Phil Mickelson, who set a record by playing in 12 successive teams, and Jim Furyk, who played nine in a row.
For now, it’s hard to imagine a U.S. team without Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, and Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau for years to come.
Then again, Spieth would have been left off the team if not for the one-year postponement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two major champions are starting the new season with different caddies.
Ted Scott had been with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson his entire career, and they have decided to part ways. Watson said Scott “deserves more credit than anyone can imagine” for helping him on and off the golf course.
Jimmy Johnson is no longer with Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Champion and FedEx Cup champion. No reason was given for their split, except for Thomas saying he did not fire Johnson. Thomas said Jim “Bones” Mackay, the former longtime caddie for Phil Mickelson, will work for him. Johnson was the second full-time caddie Thomas had as a pro.
MONEY FOR NOTHING
The steady increase in prize money plays a role in Cameron Tringale extending his lead as the player with the most PGA Tour earnings without winning.
His most recent chance was the Sanderson Farms Championship, where Tringale began the final round one shot behind and closed with a 71 to tie for 11th. That was worth $162,750, pushing his career earnings to $14,487,568.
That’s a little more than $1 million better than Brian Davis of England, who played his last full season in 2019. The difference is Davis has played 372 events, compared with 311 for Tringale.
Of the nine players with $10 million or more without winning (who primarily play the PGA Tour), Brett Quigley had the most starts at 408.
Tringale makes his 312th start this week in Las Vegas. He says the joy comes more from competing than the cash.
“I’ve been out here a long time. I haven’t won, but I love competing, and I just want to see if I can keep beating guys,” he said before the final round. “Sunday they give the trophies away, but you’re really out there grinding and you’re playing against yourself. But it’s just fun to see how I can match up when I’m playing well and even when I’m not, just how to manage that and get the most out of each week.
“That’s kind of the fun part for me,” he said. “I’m kind of a journeyman to this point and I’m enjoying the journey.”
RYDER CUP REUNION
Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington are competing again, this time with golf clubs.
Harrington turned 50 on Aug. 31, three weeks before the Ryder Cup. He makes his PGA Tour Champions debut this week in the Constellation Furyk & Friends Invitational at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida. Stricker also is in the field.
As much as the PGA Tour Champions often boasts the number of former major champions in its fields, this feels like a reunion of past Ryder Cup captains. Harrington and Stricker are among 10 former captains at Timuquana.
European captains are Bernhard Langer (2004), Colin Montgomerie (2010), Jose Maria Olazabal (2012), Darren Clarke (2016) and Harrington (2021).
U.S. captains are Tom Lehman (2006), Corey Pavin (2010), Davis Love III (2012 and 2016), tournament host Jim Furyk (2018) and Stricker (2021).
The Asian Tour is set to resume in November, having not played since March 2020 because of the pandemic. The tour has two tournaments scheduled for Thailand and plans two more in Singapore after the Christmas break. ... With seven tournaments left in the year, Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler are the only U.S. Ryder Cup members who have yet to qualify for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. ... Patrick Reed returns to competition this week at the Shiners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, his first event since he was not picked for the Ryder Cup team. ... The European Tour again will finish its season with back-to-back tournaments in Dubai. The AVIV Dubai Championship on Nov. 11-14 precedes the DP World Tour Championship that concludes the Race to Dubai. A year ago, the second Dubai tournament was part of the tour’s plan to stay in areas for two events as part of its strict bubble. This year’s Dubai Championship takes the spot on the schedule vacated by the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour title 25 years ago in Las Vegas and earned $297,000. This week in Las Vegas, fifth place pays $287,000.
“Nobody turns into a genius drinking.” — Shane Lowry on unruly fans at the Ryder Cup.
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