DEREK LAWRENSON: Is Barmy Bryson on the brink? DeChambeau is the most fascinating figure in golf but is now not talking to the media after feuds with players, fans and even his manufacturer
- Bryson DeChambeau had a summer of simmering after row with Brooks Koepka
- He nearly confronted a fan on Sunday but settled for an expletive response
- American has refused media interviews and fell out with his club manufacturer
- He is one of golf’s most riveting figures but his journey could veer off course
As the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over this citadel of the Deep South, the man in the eye of a golf storm was nowhere to be seen.
Nearly a third of the 30-man field will be interviewed before the Tour Championship at East Lake on Thursday but not the one player everyone is talking about.
Bryson DeChambeau is doing his best Greta Garbo impression while the debate rages about the most polarising figure since Colin Montgomerie. In the interests of American Ryder Cup team harmony — a phrase so incongruous it’s jarring simply writing it — DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have agreed to call a truce to their feud at the behest of skipper Steve Stricker. That just leaves everyone else who doesn’t care for brainy, barmy Bryson.
Bryson DeChambeau’s journey in golf looks like it might veer off course after a string of rows
At the end of his exhilarating six hole play-off against Patrick Cantlay in Baltimore on Sunday, it looked for one horrible moment as if the DeChambeau journey was going to veer grotesquely off course. According to ESPN, he appeared on the verge of confronting one of those beer-fuelled fans who have taken to calling him ‘Brooksie,’ before settling for an expletive-laden response.
Refusing all interview requests after becoming the first man in the history of the PGA Tour to post 27 under par for 72 holes and not win, the vanquished DeChambeau was in his courtesy car and off the property before Cantlay had raised the trophy.
It feels as if matters are now coming to a head following a summer of simmering. He followed the fall-out with Koepka with comments about his driver at the Open that earned him an almost unprecedented public rebuke from his club manufacturer.
His caddie then decided the million dollar-plus salary wasn’t worth the aggro and left to start a bus company in Oregon. DeChambeau then provoked scorn in the media for dangerous anti-vaccine remarks. Perhaps it is unsurprising he’s not speaking to the press, given the damage that follows when he does.
He has been involved in a feud with Brooks Koepka (far left) after a summer of simmering
In a welcome effort to lower the temperature, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addressed the heckling issue on Tuesday, revealing he’d spoken to both Koepka and DeChambeau, making it clear that he considered the ‘Brooksie’ comments disrespectful and would not be tolerated.
It will be interesting to see if his timely intervention has any effect this weekend if DeChambeau is in contention to win $15million (£10.9m) and there’s 25,000 people who’ll be drinking plenty in hot and humid conditions.
After that, there’s the Ryder Cup, where there’s genuine puzzlement as to who is going to partner DeChambeau over the first two days. Will donning the stars and stripes be enough to silence the hecklers who will populate the horseshoe grandstand around the opening hole? You can understand why his team-mates are not in a rush to find out.
He fell out with his caddie and club manufacturer and it’s no surprise he’s avoiding the press
It’s fair to say DeChambeau hardly helps himself in that regard. On Sunday, there was a priceless moment caught on camera when he backed off a shot because he spied Cantlay out of the corner of his eye.
‘Will you stop walking, Patrick,’ he haughtily remarked. You can imagine how that went down with Cantlay. The man who never smiles was positively beaming after he’d won.
The great shame about all this for the sport, of course, is that DeChambeau is, by some distance, the most fascinating figure in the modern game. The man who’s pushing back all the boundaries and has found an entirely different way to play, from the driver with a four-degree loft —nine degrees is the norm — to irons with all the same length of shaft.
The man who gained a vast amount of weight during the first lockdown, followed by an equally significant weight loss over the past two months after catching Covid-19.
The great shame is that the American is one of the most fascinating figures in golf but has a few issues he needs to iron out
For every heckler, there’s plenty more who can’t get enough of watching him thrash his driver to the limits of human and technical endurance. For every pro who’ll give him a wide berth in the locker room, there’s others only too happy to support him on Twitter and highlight his undoubted box-office appeal.
Sunday’s riveting climax was the best finish of the year on the PGA Tour, and certainly the event that triggered the biggest social media response.
So to East Lake. ‘Bryson is a superstar but he’s also a human being who’s currently working through some issues and he has our full support,’ said Monahan, who spoke for an hour in his press conference but was asked questions about no other player.
‘I can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next four days,’ he added. He was speaking about the tournament in general but it assuredly applies to one man in particular.
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