ROBBINS NEST, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
By Lenn Robbins
There still is time to make this right.
Golf can gain the publicity it so desperately craves with one and a worthwhile charity can raise more money with one simple move:
Substitute Brooks Koepka for Phil Mickelson in Tuesday evening’s, “The Match,” (5 p.m.; TNT, Hulu). This would match Koepka and Tom Brady against Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers.
Koepka and DeChambeau can each carry a 15th club, say a cudgel or a shillelagh. Rodgers and Brady can don striped referee shirts and keep a couple of penalty flags and a pair of handcuffs in their back pockets.
Ever since it became public knowledge in May that Koepka and DeChambeau are blood enemies, we’ve been itching to see the two in the same grouping. According to reports, the U.S. Open wanted to group the last three Open winners – Koepka, DeChambeau and Tony Woodward – in the same group for the first two rounds but DeChambeau nixed it.
The Open is serious business and if DeChambeau didn’t want to mess with his chances of winning, good for him. The Match is a charity exhibition with a lot of the proceeds going to Feeding America.
It’s as worthy cause if there ever was one. Isn’t it mindboggling and shaming that people in the wealthiest nation in the world go to bed hungry? Think of how much more money can be raised if golf, a gentleman’s sport, meets boxing, once known as a poor man’s sport. No joke.
The wager possibilities are endless:
What’s the Over/Under on how many holes will be played before The Match is called because DeChambeau and Koepka are at each other’s throats. Ninth.
Who will be accused first for slow play DeChambeau or Koepka? DeChambeau. More on this later.
Who will walk in front of the other golfer’s line first? Koepka.
On what hole will the first punch be thrown? Seventh.
On what hole will Koepka and DeChambeau wind up wrestling in a sand trap? Eighth.
Who will throw the first flag, Brady or Rodgers? Brady.
As for the tale of the tape:
DeChambeau – U.S. Open, 2020; Koepka – U.S. Open, 2017, 2018; PGA, 2018, 2019.
Ah, who cares about that.
Bryson, “The Scientist” DeChambeau, 27, 6-1, 235 pounds vs Brooks “The Ant” Koepka, 31, 6-0, 205.
DeChambeau gets his nickname from his college days at SMU when he reportedly was “barred by rules officials from using a protractor during rounds to accurately determine hole locations, and he would soak golf balls in Epsom salts to determine their center of gravity.”
We dubbed Koepka “The Ant” after he poked fun at DeChambeau for seeking relief from red ants at a tournament. More on this later.
Where did the animosity begin? By all accounts it was the 2019 Dubai Desert Classic when Koepka was one of several golfers who criticized DeChambeau for slow play, calling it embarrassing.
“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” Koepka told Golf Monthly.
By the middle of the year the issue seemed to come to a head. DeChambeau told Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliot, that he wanted to talk to his boss. The two did and both said and that was that. Or not.
When PGA play was halted due to COVID-19, The Scientist, decided he could gain an advantage by adding strength and becoming a longer driver. He added about 35 pounds, much of it muscle and in fact won the 2020 Open. Both were featured in ESPN’s 2020 Body Issue. Koepka hinted he has lost weight for the shoot.
“I don’t think his genetics even make him look good,” DeChambeau said. “Did you see the Body Issue? He didn’t have any abs. I have abs.”
Koepka responded with the following Twitter post, highlighting his six major wins. DeChambeau only has one.
And they were just getting started. At the 2020 Memorial, DeChambeau, claiming red ants were in the vicinity of his ball, attempted to get relief citing rule 16.2 – Relief for Dangerous Animal: “when a dangerous animal (such as poisonous snakes, stinging bees, alligators, a single hornet, fire ants or bears) near a ball could cause serious physical injury to the player.”
Red ants. Seriously?
Koepka stung about a month later at another tournament when he pulled a shot wide. He remarked to Elliot that he saw an ant. Until now, it was funny, simmering stuff that more or less went under the radar until this year’s PGA Championship.
Intentionally or not, DeChambeau, wearing his metal golf cleats, walked behind Koepka while he was doing a television interview. Koepka closed his eyes and muttered an expletive. He forgot the question. The clip went viral.
The public was clamoring for DeChambeau vs Koepka.
The Open couldn’t deliver. The Match still could.
When The March pairings were announced and DeChambeau was named, Koepka took to social media again, Tweeting his condolences to Rodgers for having to play with his DeChambeau. DeChambeau clapped back, Tweeting, “It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!”
DeChambeau must have known what was coming a few days ago when it was announced he was splitting with his longtime caddie, Tim Tucker. Koepka quickly Tweeted his appreciation for Elliot.
So here we are on the verge of The Match and it’s clear to all what must happen because, seriously, we all need to get behind Feeding America. Mickelson, by all accounts a fun guy who probably has been enjoying the DeChambeau-Koepka rift, should develop a nasty, mystery ailment and withdraw. Koepka replaces him.
I’ll be the first to put money on The Match. I’ll take the under.