Koepka hot on and off the course with DeCham­beau rant

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Cor­ri­gan GOLF COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Brooks Koepka gave a timely re­minder of his golf­ing promi­nence with a 62 in a World Golf Cham­pi­onship event in Mem­phis last night. But he also pro­vided fur­ther in­di­ca­tion he is will­ing to stamp down his ri­vals off the course as well.

Be­fore the Amer­i­can went out for his first round of the WGC St Jude FedEx In­vi­ta­tional, a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle ap­peared in which Koepka ac­cused Bryson DeCham­beau of be­ing “cow­ardly” when fronting up to Koepka’s cad­die, in­stead of con­fronting the golfer him­self.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened ear­lier this sea­son af­ter Koepka had ex­pressed his opinion that his Ry­der Cup team-mate was not the quick­est on Tour. “I said to Bryson, ‘If you have an is­sue, go say it face to face’,” Koepka told Golf week. “Lis­ten, I don’t have to like you, but I can re­spect you.

“I’ve never had a prob­lem with Bryson. I just thought he was slow. Then when he went up to Ricky [El­liott, Koepka’s cad­die] and he was like, ‘Tell your man to come find me and say it face to face’.

“Well, I thought that was kind of an oxy­moron to go to Ricky. I thought it was kind of cow­ardly, if I’m hon­est. But at the same time, if he’s go­ing to say that then I’m go­ing to go up and say, ‘OK, I’m here’.”

In a frank in­ter­view in which Koepka also bashed down the com­mon per­cep­tion that he is a close friend to Dustin John­son – “that got blown out of pro­por­tion be­cause we worked out in the same gym” – Koepka also stated his view that he is dif­fer­ent to his fel­low pros.

“Golfers hate con­fronta­tion,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but they’re afraid of it. With a lot of guys, when they fire some­body, they’ll have their man­ager fire them in­stead of hav­ing the balls to do it them­selves. That’s ridicu­lous.”

How the locker room will re­act to the world No 6’s com­ments is a moot point, although Koepka will not care. What­ever, the emer­gence of his rant seemed so well-timed. Koepka is the de­fend­ing cham­pion in Mem­phis, but also the de­fend­ing cham­pion of next week’s US PGA Cham­pi­onship in Harding Park, where he will at­tempt to be­come the first player to win three USPGA stroke­play crowns in his­tory.

DeCham­beau shot a three-un­der 67, while Rory McIl­roy fired a three-over 73. Af­ter a tor­rid open­ing, the North­ern Irishman birdied two of the last three holes.

Mean­while, any­body who thought Miguel An­gel Jimenez would sim­ply turn up to his record­break­ing 707th event on the Euro­pean Tour and ac­cept the plau­dits with a cel­e­bra­tory cigar and a com­edy stretch, do not know the man.

At 56 Jimenez re­fused to play the role of cer­e­mo­nial golfer at the Hero Open and in­stead put on a stun­ning dis­play of ac­cu­racy at the For­est of Ar­den to post an eigh­tun­der 64 fea­tur­ing no bo­geys.

Fit­tingly, the Tour ar­ranged for Sam Tor­rance to talk to Jimenez at the end of his round, via a link. “I was very proud of the record but I couldn’t have given it to some­one bet­ter,” Tor­rance told him. Jimenez is in joint sec­ond with coun­try­man Pablo Lar­raz­a­bal, with yet an­other Spa­niard lead­ing – Se­bas­tian Gar­cia Ro­driguez, in his rookie year.

‘I’ve never had a prob­lem with Bryson, I just thought he was slow, but this was cow­ardly’

Raised glass: Miguel An­gel Jimenez cel­e­brates his record-break­ing 707th Euro­pean Tour event

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