JERSEY CITY — Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, respectively the lightning rod for the PGA Tour’s slow-play issue and the most outspoken critic of the sport’s pace, both got to state their cases Sunday — privately, to each other.
Their impromptu discussion before the final round of the Northern Trust seemed fine to both men afterward. Whether it will lead to any progress on pace of play remains to be seen, but it sure was unusual for golf.
“Everyone out here is probably a little bit more afraid of confrontation than in other sports,” said Koepka, whose four majors include the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and 2019 PGA at Bethpage Black. “Sometimes it helps and you figure out what the root of the problem is, and start working on it.”
DeChambeau, who initiated the meeting on the driving range, said: “It was awesome. It was actually fantastic.’’ Referring to the fact that Koepka agreed to engage in the give-and-take, he said, “I appreciate what Brooks did. I have high respect for him because he did that.”
Debate about slow play boiled over this weekend when a video of DeChambeau taking more than two minutes to line up a short putt Friday — making his playing partners wait — went viral on social media. He was widely criticized and used as an example of one of the sport’s greatest problems.He made a lengthy, emotional defense to reporters Saturday and decided to go directly at Koepka on Sunday.
Koepka chose not to go into detail about their conversation but pointed out that he has mentioned DeChambeau only once in his public statements on the issue. The reigning PGA champion did not back down from his contention that slow play should be penalized. “It’s in the rule book,” he said. “It’s just like hitting it in the water. I have to take a penalty stroke.”
DeChambeau insisted that his reputation is unfounded, adding that his agent timed all of his shots Sunday and that he averaged 30 seconds on the tee and in the fairway. “If it is my issue and I take too long a time,” he said, “absolutely penalize me.”