JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Slow play remained a topic of discussion on Sunday at the Northern Trust, but the place where that discussion became most intriguing turned out to be the practice area at Liberty National. That’s where Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau had an impromptu meeting on the matter, one in which Koepka has become a crusader for picking up the pace on tour and DeChambeau has become a symbol of the all-too-methodical tour player.
Both players had early tee times on Sunday, Koepka at 11:10 a.m. DeChambeau at 11:30 a.m. As they were practicing ahead of the final round, DeChambeau walked up to Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, and said that he wanted to talk to Koepka directly about the issue. (A few reports said that DeChambeau made a point of telling Elliott to tell Brooks if he had an issue with him he should say it to him face-to-face.) When Koepka arrived on the range, the message was passed on to him, and the two spoke.
Neither player offered specific details as to what was said between them, but both said the meeting was cordial. “It was fine,” said Koepka when asked about it after shooting a final-round 70. “No issues.”
Koepka did acknowledge that DeChambeau was upset that Koepka had named him specifically when talking about slow play. In January, after DeChambeau won the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, Koepka mentioned DeChambeau when going on a rant about the ills of slow play in golf.
Koepka said he tried to explain to DeChambeau that he was not trying to just single him out, but rather the problem overall. “Like I said, I mentioned his name once,” Koepka said. “So I don't think I've come at him. I just talked about slow play, and obviously he feels I'm talking about him every time.”
DeChambeau said he appreciated getting a chance to talk directly with Koepka about the matter, which took a twist on Friday when viral video of DeChambeau's play at the Northern Trust rekindled criticism, including remarks from fellow tour player, about DeChambeau's pace on the course. One video showed DeChambeau taking more than two minutes to line up and putt an eight-footer.
“It was awesome,” DeChambeau said after closing out a Sunday 70. “It was actually fantastic [talking to Brooks]. I appreciate what Brooks did. I have high respect for him because he did that. There was one instance he said in Abu Dhabi, and he said, ‘Yeah, I said something about that, but it was in general and got blown out of proportion.’
“He said a lot of things about slow play out in the public, and you guys have asked him that and he has the right to say things just as I do," DeChambeau said. "I have heard him talk about slow play before and he has mentioned my name before, and I just wanted to clear the air. Make sure that nothing was of any importance after, and he's got respect for me; I have respect for him. So no issues.”
It’s unclear, though, whether the two necessarily resolved their issues with one another. Koepka said on Sunday that he hoped to talk to DeChambeau further. DeChambeau felt the matter had been dealt with.
“No,” DeChambeau said when asked if they needed to talk more. “We're going to be playing on a lot of teams together, I hope, and you know, it's better to get stuff out now and make it right so we go into these team competitions wanting to do our absolute best and not have anything else happen.”
Interestingly, both players hinted that they embraced the fact they were able to meet to talk about the matter.
“Everyone out here, [is] probably a little bit more afraid of confrontation than in other sports," DeChambeau said. "I think you see that. Baseball, you'll see it. Teammates go at each other and they are still fine. Football, same thing. Basketball, I mean, you name it. There's always been some confrontation on a team. Sometimes it helps and you figure out what the root of the problem is, and start working on it."