HomeGolfCome on, USGA: Give us Brooks-Bryson at the U.S. Open!
Come on, USGA: Give us Brooks-Bryson at the U.S. Open!
June 14, 2021
To: The USA Golf Affiliation From: Kevin Van Valkenburg, ESPN senior author (present 8.8 Index)
Greetings to all my associates and fellow golf obsessives (golf nerds?) on the USGA! I hope this finds you effectively. I notice that is an especially busy time for the group, what with the 121st enjoying of America’s nationwide championship beginning Thursday in La Jolla, Calif. The week of the U.S. Open actually is among the most pleasurable (and sadistic) entries on the sports activities calendar. You are in all probability busy dumping about 1,000,000 gallons of water into the tough at Torrey Pines and ensuring the grass seems like a fur coat made out of Wookiee pores and skin. Or is at this time the day you’re taking a potato peeler to the greens till they possess the firmness of a bowling lane?
However earlier than you finalize issues, I used to be questioning for those who’ll grant us one last-minute request. (Guess you’ll be able to guess it.)
Give us Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau in the identical group.
Do not overthink this, OK?
Do not wring your fingers or supply excuses about how the U.S. Open is greater than any particular person matchup, that it will be in poor style to encourage scenes of Brooks rolling his eyes each time Bryson tries to calibrate the air density. Do not supply up a poem or video essay that makes an attempt to remind us, with an aristocratic air, that golf has a historical past of honorable, gentlemanly conduct, not so casually implying that tossing Brooks and Bryson into the identical threesome may cheapen the primary two rounds of America’s nationwide championship.
Your model is chaos, USGA.
Admit it: You like messy drama. You like meltdowns and tantrums and double bogeys. Your ethos is the most effective gamers on the planet whining in regards to the unfairness of the setup, claiming you have misplaced the course, then storming to the parking zone, slamming trunks and blowing off all interviews. One of many biggest gamers of this period, Phil Mickelson, is extra well-known for melting down in your championship than he can be if he’d emerged victorious in any one in every of them.
Each main has its personal id, and it is time you dropped the haughty pretense and leaned into yours. You are the Joker, watching the world burn with a painted smile in your face.
Why not embrace it and provides us (no less than) two rounds of appointment viewing? Here is the factor: I am pretty sure golf would not but grasp how enjoyable it will be, over the subsequent decade, if two of the most effective gamers of this period overtly loathed each other and compelled followers to decide on sides. Brooks and Bryson squabbling over the previous month on social media has been a present to the game, dragging it (just a bit) out of the hoity-toity nation membership and into the parking zone.
Golf execs, of their company boardrooms, are at all times speaking about “rising the sport.” Effectively, right here is a chance to do precisely that, to herald a brand new viewers wanting to obsess over each sneer, each fist pump, each exasperated sigh, and switch them right into a shareable GIF. Embracing the feud — enjoying it up! — can be an entire no-brainer if golf did not have a prolonged historical past of being afraid of its personal shadow with regards to this sort of factor.
Are you able to think about if the NBA dealt with rivalries the best way golf does? Michael Jordan and Larry Hen lived to torment their opponents. What if the league had determined to ensure they by no means performed in opposition to anybody they trash-talked? In that alternate universe, the clip of Kyrie Irving stomping on the Boston Celtics emblem would not have supplied us with three days of pleasant discuss present and Twitter fodder; it will have been wiped from the web. Anybody sharing it will instantly obtain a copyright criticism. That is how golf handled the video of Brooks rolling his eyes and cursing about Bryson and his steel spikes — however solely after it obtained 10 million views in a single day. How might anybody argue with a straight face that it was dangerous for golf?
“I believe it is good for the sport. I actually do,” Koepka stated final week, when requested about their feud. “The truth that golf’s on just about each information outlet for about two weeks fairly persistently, I believe that is factor.”
You recognize who cares about Brooks and Bryson squabbling with one another? Individuals who do not care about golf, individuals who do not know the distinction between a niche wedge and a 3 wooden. So typically, golf will get buried in its personal insular world, it misses straightforward alternatives to welcome in new followers. (Do you actually assume we would nonetheless be speaking in regards to the PGA Championship if Brooks hadn’t helped leak that video?) Viewers who hadn’t even heard of Brooks Koepka earlier than they watched him roll his eyes have been choosing sides and forming allegiances.
In a single nook, Staff Brooks: We love crushing gentle beers, enjoying rapidly and pantsing nerds who, we’re satisfied, completely deserve it. Brooks is, in our thoughts, residing the dream: profitable a half-dozen majors whereas pretending he would not even must attempt that arduous. Brooks’ trolling of Bryson is justified in our eyes as a result of — simply to be blunt — Bryson is annoying. Brooks injects a much-needed shot of actuality right into a sport that’s traditionally as comfortable as Charmin.
Within the different — watching maybe much less loudly however simply as passionately — is Staff Bryson. We love protein shakes and UFO discussions and making an attempt to unravel the sport of golf prefer it’s The New York Instances’ Sunday crossword. We love the thought of utilizing science to outsmart all of the jock bros. Positive, we make each interplay a bit of extra awkward than it must be, and we now have a bizarre affection for Kings of Leon songs, however even when we make individuals cringe, we matter.
To be sincere, although, Koepka and DeChambeau are much more alike than both one realizes. Each of them love consideration and wish steady validation of their strategies. Every tries to fake he’s too cool to yearn for affirmation, but they every search it out in their very own media protected areas. They each declare they do not care what anybody else thinks, but each are extraordinarily on-line, clearly name-searching in non-public to search out slights, each actual and imagined.
Admittedly, it is not nice that Brooks bought the #manufacturers concerned, promising anybody at The Memorial a case of beer in the event that they have been kicked out for heckling Bryson. All the pieces is worse when it is become a model activation. But when Bryson actually is unnerved by individuals calling him “Brooksy,” then that is a part of the mountain he must climb if he needs to do what Brooks did in 2018, win back-to-back U.S. Open titles. In addition to, Bryson has already (considerably unconvincingly) declared he isn’t even mad, you guys!!!
“I believe it is completely flattering what they’re doing,” DeChambeau stated on the Memorial Event, the place followers have been ejected for shouting Koepka’s title at him. “They will maintain calling me that each one day in the event that they wish to, I’ve bought no challenge with it. While you have a look at it, there’s clearly a distraction — to most individuals they assume it is a distraction, however I grew up studying learn how to cope with that stuff and I actually thought it was flattering.”
Look, it is comprehensible (though I would argue, nonetheless annoying) that the PGA Tour will not embrace Brooks vs. Bryson with gusto. Over there, it is all in regards to the well mannered post-round handshake, a glass of white wine within the clubhouse and a promise to donate to one another’s charities. That is admirable! The PGA Tour has a components it is snug with, and it has been extremely profitable and beneficiant to lots of people. Let it personal the “everybody right here is an honorable gentleman” method.
However that is the place you are available in, USGA: You actually make the principles of the game. You do not have to reply to athletes. You possibly can borrow a bit of from the WWE, every now and then, and provides the individuals what we really need.
Proper now, we wish them on the primary tee at Torrey collectively — chests puffed out, navigating the nerdiest handshake ever.
It would not even matter who the third member of their group is. Make it Patrick Reed, if you need somebody who thrives in uncomfortable conditions. Make it Max Homa, if you need somebody who might crack jokes and lighten the temper. Make it Jon Rahm, if you need somebody to socially distance himself from every of them. Anybody will do.
However do not lose your nerve, USGA. Be daring and embrace the enjoyable. To heck with anybody who grouses that it is manufactured. Actually each first-round pairing is manufactured. You are the identical group that, in 2014, thought it will be humorous to pair thicc boys Shane Lowry, Brendon de Jonge and Kevin Stadler collectively, a memorable trio that Lowry referred to as “a mockery.”
Do not inform me that pairing up husky golfers is cool, then shrink back from pleasant mutual animosity.
The final time the U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines, it gave us some of the memorable finishes within the historical past of the match. If Tiger Woods can win on this course with a damaged leg, absolutely Brooks or Bryson may be requested to beat a bit of awkward silence between pictures.