Brooks Koepka vs. Bryson DeChambeau: A Social Media Spat That Has Us All Rolling Our Eyes
Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau
I was right there for The Eye Roll Seen ‘round The World.
Really. I was standing about 20 feet away, our post-round interview setup for PGA Championship Radio right near the Golf Channel location. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be such a big deal. There’s Todd Lewis interviewing Brooks Koepka. There’s Bryson DeChambeau walking past. It was a scene I’d been watching all week.
Regretfully, nobody tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I keep a close eye on what was about to become golf’s viral video of the year.
Here’s the breakdown for a leaked clip that was watched more than nine million times before it was wiped off the face of the internet fewer than 24 hours after it surfaced: Koepka was standing in front of the Golf Channel camera, preparing for a recorded interview with Lewis, who’s a terrific reporter. Just as the interview is about to start, an out-of-frame DeChambeau is talking to someone nearby, prompting an eye-roll from Koepka. As DeChambeau walks through the background of the interview, Koepka loses his train of thought while answering Lewis’ first question, punctuated by a shake of his head and a deep sigh.
That might not sound like much, but in the deferential world of golf, it became the social media equivalent to a bench-clearing brawl.
Immediately, conspiracy theories materialized as to the cause for such a reaction.
Some have suggested that it was DeChambeau’s metal spikes on the cement path which drew Kopeka’s indignation. Others have hinted that whatever DeChambeau uttered in the moment was aimed directly at Koepka.
From what I’ve heard, it was neither. I could be wrong — because, again, nobody alerted me to the fact that this was about to become some sort of transcendent moment in the sport — but I believe this was a simple case of DeChambeau lamenting his score and Koepka not wanting to hear about it.
According to sources, DeChambeau was telling somebody (not Koepka) something to the effect of, “I hit it great all day, I just couldn’t make a putt.” Those words are, of course, the anthem for every professional golfer who believes his swing was better than his score — and yes, it’s a fairly common refrain.
Even Koepka himself, after the tournament’s third round, opined, “That was the worst putting performance I think I’ve ever had in my career. Can’t get much worse. I thought 70 was about the highest I could have shot today.”
All of which gets to the meat of this entire story: It wasn’t what Koepka heard that caused his reaction. It was who.
None of which should come as a surprise, either. DeChambeau once poked fun at Koepka while playing a video game, referencing his six-pack abs. Koepka countered that he actually owned a four-pack, including a photo of his four major championship trophies.
For each player, this entire saga is entirely on-brand.
Koepka is the guy who eye-rolls just about everyone, as if nobody else is cool enough to breathe the same air. DeChambeau is the guy who gets eye-rolled by just about everyone, his brute strength on the course subdued by his social awkwardness off of it.
It’s taken a few days, but even their public interactions in the aftermath have validated these personas.
After it was announced that recently crowned PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson would team with Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in an upcoming edition of The Match against DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers, the posts started flying.
Koepka offered a simple “Sorry bro” to Rodgers, the obvious implication being that he has to pair up with DeChambeau. Meanwhile, DeChambeau went to lengths to Photoshop an image of himself in Koepka’s head (he’s living there rent-free … get it?), then offered a wordy response to Brady about deflated balls.
@BKoepka It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!
— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) May 26, 2021
— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) May 26, 2021
These harmless social media confrontations — if we can even call them that — aren’t necessarily bad for golf. The game is better with heroes and villains, with players who inspire some sort of passion among the masses.
In fact, many in the passionate public are now crowing for Koepka and DeChambeau to be grouped together for the upcoming U.S. Open, which would cause absolute fireworks in the days leading up to their opening round — and would likely elicit five hours of playing golf while largely ignoring each other, concluding with a half-hearted handshake at the end.
Those who haven’t bought into this new rivalry are doing a bit of eye-rolling themselves.
Since we’re on the subject of conspiracy theories, it’s worth acknowledging the idea that the PGA TOUR’s new Player Impact Program, which will reward players monetarily for their social media acumen, could be the agent of all this chaos.
That’s right: Maybe they really dislike each other, or maybe it’s all an act. Hey, professional wrestlers do it all the time.
The truth — as it so often does — probably lies somewhere in between.
Is there resolute animosity between these two guys? Eh. Or are they just doing all of this as some sort of orchestrated act? Meh.
The reality is Koepka and DeChambeau own completely disparate personalities. One is a guy who rolls his eyes at anything or anyone he doesn’t deem cool enough. The other is a guy who gets eyes rolled at him, because, he isn’t cool enough.
None of this is nothing new, really. The only difference this time is that it was captured on video for the entire world to see — well, for almost 24 hours, at least.