An intense rivalry has been building over the past year between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, two of the most notable stars on the PGA Tour. The rift now is set to come to a head throughout 12 holes in Las Vegas on Friday. Two golfers with a combined 16 PGA Tour wins and five major championships will tee it up in The Match 5 at the Wynn Golf Course in Las Vegas to settle the score for our Thanksgiving weekend entertainment.
The angst between Koepka and DeChambeau somehow seems both real and staged. It began long before 2021 dawned, but the now-famous video of Koepka rolling his eyes in a deleted Golf Channel interview that was later leaked took it to a new level. There’s a sense that they truly don’t get along, but that coincides with the fact that they have both seemingly been playing up the rivalry in interviews and on social media for the sake of this showdown.
Every previous iteration of The Match has either been a four-man game or a showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. This will be the first one to step outside of those frameworks as well as the normal 18-hole festivities we usually see. While I don’t really know that 12 holes at a resort course in Vegas in late November settles any kind of score between two of the top 20 players in the world, it should still be entertaining to watch them go at it for a few hours after Thanksgiving and before the college and pro football slates heat up over the weekend.
Let’s take a closer look at The Match 5 and what to expect on Friday afternoon.
The Match 5 will be broadcast on TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN starting at 4 p.m. ET on on Friday, and you can expect what we’ve seen during all the previous versions of this event — players and their caddies wearing microphones everywhere with Brian Anderson playing host and Amanda Balionis as the on-course reporter. Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley will provide the spice as both will be commentators at the event, and will almost certainly be more entertaining than whatever is said between Koepka and DeChambeau.
As I mentioned above, the format here is going to be pretty different than we have become accustomed to. The on-course challenges — closest to the pin and long drive contest — remain, but the event will only be 12 holes/ With two players (especially with how fast Koepka is), things will move quickly. This is a good thing because nobody needs late November golf to drag on, and it highlights the fact that more sub-18-hole golf should be played.
Where is the money going?
Upon the conclusion of this event, The Match series will have raised more than $30 million for charity over the last few years. That’s awesome. And with sponsors like DraftKings, ZipRecruiter and Capital One, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change much in the near future. As for where that money is headed, this year’s recipients are the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour, Feeding America, Shriner’s Hospital (via DeChambeau) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (via Koepka), as well as the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and a variety of community investments and grants to small business across the country (via Capital One).
Here is a reductive but helpful timeline of all the improprieties Koepka and DeChambeau have endured at the hands of one another.
- The first big moment came at the 2019 Northern Trust when Koepka was critical of slow play and DeChambeau felt like that complaint was aimed specifically at him (which it probably was). DeChambeau sought him out, they chatted and that was ostensibly the end of it (if only we knew!).
- DeChambeau took a swipe at Koepka’s physique when he said on a Twitch stream — and I’m not making this up — that Koepka didn’t have any abs in reference to his appearance in the ESPN the Magazine body issue.
- Koepka fired back with a photo of his major trophies and noted that that he was indeed two short of a six pack.
- Koepka may not have leaked the video of him rolling his eyes and cursing about Bryson’s presence right after the PGA in a video interview with Todd Lewis at Kiawah that never aired, but he also may not have kept it from being leaked either.
- Shortly after, a video of Bryson saying, “whoever is calling me Brooksie needs to get out of here” emerged.
- Then it all started to unwind. Koepka tweeted “sorry bro” at Aaron Rodgers after Rodgers was paired with DeChambeau at The Match 4. He also thanked his caddie and his driver after DeChambeau and his own caddie split and then he said his driver sucked at The Open this summer.
- Koepka gave away free beer to anyone who “had their time cut short” at the Memorial after DeChambeau was purportedly having anyone who yelled “Brooksie” at him thrown out of the event.
- It started to get to DeChambeau as the summer wore on, particularly in a meltdown on the back nine on Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and then at the BMW Championship where he nearly went off on somebody who called him, “Brooksie.”
- PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stepped in after this at the Tour Championship and said anyone yelling that at DeChambeau was in violation of the Tour’s fan policy and could be removed from the event.
- There were little nuggets on social throughout the summer, but the two seemed to get along at the Ryder Cup in September and even embraced to end the week in an historic win over the European team.
- Since then, there has been little stuff, but it’s mostly been in good fun leading into The Match 5.
Odds provided via Caesar’s Sportsbook
Koepka has a higher ceiling overall, but he’s also more erratic, which I don’t really love in a 12-hole match. I also think DeChambeau cares about this a lot more than Koepka does, which should benefit him, especially without massive galleries chanting the other guy’s name at him
DeChambeau has not played an official event since the Ryder Cup, of course, but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage for him as Koepka has played in four and doesn’t have a finish better than T38. I think DeChambeau is probably the pick, even though I could see literally anything Koepka says causing him to unravel pretty quickly (which is a concern here). Still, I’m going with the Big Golfer. Pick: DeChambeau (-118) over Koepka (-105)