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The Open 2021: Bryson DeChambeau is fair game, says Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka has three top-10 finishes in six starts at the Open
Venue: Royal St George’s Date: 15-18 July
Coverage: Daily live text from 06:30 BST, Radio 5 Live from 12:00 and highlights on BBC Two at 20:00
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Brooks Koepka says Bryson DeChambeau “is fair game” after “not holding up his end of the bargain” in their war of words and social media spats.

The American pair have been kept apart for the opening two rounds of the Open Championship but could be on the same Ryder Cup team in September.

DeChambeau said before the US Open last month that their feud was “banter” but Koepka appears to see it differently.

The four-time major champion says it goes back to a conversation in 2019.

The rivalry seemingly began in January that year after Koepka questioned DeChambeau’s slow play and the world number eight believes they made a deal to put it behind them at the Northern Trust event seven months later.

“We had a conversation at Liberty, and he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain and I didn’t like that, so I’ll take my shots,” said Koepka.

“He didn’t like that I had mentioned his name in slow play, so we had a conversation in the locker room, and then I guess we said something else in the press conference but didn’t mention his name in it.”

Koepka says DeChambeau then approached his caddie, Ricky Elliot, saying “you tell your man if he’s got something to say, say it to myself”.

“I thought that was ironic because he went straight to Ricky,” added Koepka. “Ricky told me and I just walked right over to him, we had a conversation.

“We both agreed we’d leave each other out of it and wouldn’t mention each other, just kind of let it die off, wouldn’t mention each other’s names.

“Then he brought my name up and said a few things, so now it’s fair game.”

Ryder Cup pairing would be ‘funny’

The feud was reignited earlier this year with leaked footage of Koepka appearing to be distracted by DeChambeau in an unaired interview at the US PGA Championship, in which the former went on to criticise the latter.

“He can say whatever he wants,” said DeChambeau in his Open Championship news conference later on Tuesday. “He said something back at Liberty National, not upholding something. I don’t know what he’s talking about in that regard.

“Maybe that’s on me. Maybe I didn’t. I really don’t remember anything about that. We just had a conversation that I really don’t know what happened, because we haven’t really bantered back and forth until now, so it’s like why is that happening now?

“Besides that, I’m just here to play golf and focus on that. If we want to keep bantering back and forth, obviously being respectful and keeping lines where they aren’t getting crossed, yeah, I think it’s fun and a good environment for people in golf.”

The world number six even says he would find it amusing if they were paired together during the Ryder Cup for the US team.

“That would be funny actually,” said DeChambeau. “I think we’d do well. It would create a little interesting vibe for the team or for the guys we’re playing against.”

‘I never grew up to become famous’

Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau won his first major at the 2020 US Open

DeChambeau is known as ‘the Scientist’ for his tinkering and is sometimes criticised for his unconventional approach, but he says the controversy that seems to follow him around can be “emotionally a little more difficult to deal with”.

“Everybody is human. I’m definitely human. We all make mistakes and things happen,” he added.

“We have emotion and I think sometimes people objectify us big players at the top of the game too much and they don’t realise that we are human and we make mistakes and things happen.

“I never grew up to become famous. I grew up to play golf, and that’s something that people I don’t think realise. It’s difficult to truly understand unless you’re in this environment and sometimes you just try and make the best of situations and they don’t necessarily look good or come out the right way.”

The 27-year-old says he has tried to showcase himself “in a different light” through social media and YouTube videos but has to “keep pressing forward”.

“In my heart of hearts, I really think I’m a great person and a really good person to be around, a kind person to be around,” he said.

“(It is) showcasing that I am human and I did start pretty much from nothing. My parents were nice enough to give their whole lives to help me play golf. I played at a public golf course, and country club every once in a while when I got the chance, but it was humble beginnings.

“I hope people can realise if you work hard enough, you can be successful in life. That’s really my goal.”

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