AP/PA Images Bryson DeChambeau (left) and Brooks Koepka.

US Captain Stricker: Koepka-DeChambeau feud a 'non-issue'

The Ryder Cup skipper also played down the significance Koepka’s pre-tournament comments.

US RYDER CUP Captain Steve Stricker insists he is unworried about the long-running feud between two of his star players, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. 

“It’s a non-issue for me and the team”, said Stricker ahead of this week’s competition at Whistling Straits. “I’ve had conversations between them both and they have assured me it’s not going to be an issue.

“I had a dinner, they all showed up, had great conversation and they are completely on board. I have no worries whatsoever.

“Will we pair them together? I don’t think so at this point but things could change. Could always happen. But probably not.”

There is a long-standing beef between the two American golfers, with Koepka criticising the “embarrassing” pace of DeChambeau’s play in 2019. 

DeChambeau, meanwhile, made comments about Koepka’s physique during a Twitch stream in January 2020, saying ”In [ESPN's] Body Issue he didn’t even have any abs, I can tell you that. I got some abs.” 

Koepka replied by tweeting a photo of his pair of USPGA and US Open trophies, saying, “You were right Bryson DeChambeau. I am 2 short of a 6 pack.”

Koepka, meanwhile, could not conceal his annoyance at a passing DeChambeau in a leaked interview from the US PGA Championship earlier this year. Koepka was giving a flash TV interview when DeChambeau was heard clacking past in the background, with Koepka rolling his eyes and muttering, “I f*****g lost my train of thought, yeah. Hearing that bullshit. F*****g Christ.”

DeChambeau has been regularly goaded with shouts of “Brooksie” on the course since. 

Elsewhere, Stricker also played down an interview Koepka gave last week, in which he appeared decidedly lukewarm on the concept of the Ryder Cup. 

In an interview last week the four-time major champion said he finds the biennial event “tough, hectic and a bit odd” and also expressed his frustration at not being able to “take naps” during the week.

It appeared to offer another insight into the disharmony within the American team room which critics have linked to them losing nine of the last 12 matches.

Koepka, who has declared himself fit from a wrist injury which prevented him from joining a two-day reconnaissance at Whistling Straits with the rest of the team, also brings a long-running feud with Bryson DeChambeau to Wisconsin but Stricker insists everything is under control on both fronts.

“I have talked to him about it,” said the USA captain over Koepka’s comments.

“I’ve had experiences with Brooks over many of these teams and the conversation I’ve had with him and what I’ve personally seen in the team room doesn’t ‘jib up’ to what I was reading in those articles.

“I am not worried about Brooks. He assures me he is healthy and 100 per cent and he is on this team to do whatever needs to be done to be a winner at the end of the week.

“I’ve been talking to him every couple of days since it (the injury) happened and he tells me everything is 100 per cent and he is ready to go.

“From what I understand he is fully healed and ready for anything.”

Stricker does not expect Tiger Woods, recovering from a car crash in February, to make an appearance during the week in a vice-captaincy role.

“Probably not going to happen,” he said. “He’s been in my ear a lot and I call him pretty regularly. He’s part of our Ryder Cup Team. He’s part of what we do.

“I know some of the players went over to see him but I think it’s just not a good time for him to be here physically because of where he’s at in his rehabilitation.

“But he’s getting better and his focus is on making a comeback to play again. We don’t want to get in the way of that because we would all love to see him come back and play.”

43rd-ryder-cup-preview-day-one-whistling-straits PA Steve Stricker. PA

European captain Padraig Harrington arrived not quite knowing the fitness status of world number one Jon Rahm after illness last week but was reassured once he met the Spaniard.

Rahm pulled out of the Wednesday pro-am and missed the cut in California having not eaten for two days, saying he felt worse than when he contracted Covid-19 in June.

“He was lifting very nicely in the gym today when I arrived,” said Harrington.

“After hearing the reports last week, I arrived in to find him too sweaty to give a hug due to lifting some heavy weights.

“I said, ‘OK, things are looking good’.”

With no European fans allowed to travel over for the event, Harrington’s players face an even greater partisan atmosphere as they seek to defend the trophy they won in Paris three years ago.

It is not a worry for their captain, however, nor the team.

He said: “Our players play for the glory of this event. If there was 40,000 US fans and no Europeans, we’d prefer that than having no fans. That’s just the reality.

“We want the noise. We want the excitement. We want the buzz of it all. Yes, the players will have to deal with it and yes, they will have to embrace it.

“But they wouldn’t want the alternative. Having no fans is no fun.”

With reporting by Gavin Cooney 
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