Ryder Cup 2021: Concerning Admissions Coming From Two Of Team USA’s Big Hitters

Team USA’s Bryson DeChambeau has “wrecked” his hands, while Brooks Koepka has spoken candidly on his reservations over the Ryder Cup. 

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have both made worrying admissions ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup.

With less than two weeks to go until the 43rd edition of the biennial match-play tournament, the pair have spelled concerning issues for USA team captain Steve Stricker. 

America have only won only 2 of the last nine tournaments, and the pressure is on Steve Stricker and his side to deliver at the Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin next week. 

But with two weeks to go until the 43rd edition of the tournament, questions have arisen over the mental focus of some of Team USA’s biggest hitters. 

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2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau is currently partaking in an intensive speed training programme as he prepares to juggle Ryder Cup commitments alongside his ambitions to compete in the World Long Drive Championships, which take place 24 hours after the Ryder Cup’s closing ceremony.  

Speaking on his training programme for the World Long Drive Event, DeChambeau told Golf.com, “my hands are wrecked from it.

“People don’t realise how difficult long drive really is. In golf, it’s the one thing where you can judge your accomplishments by a number,” DeChambeau said.

“Not necessarily by going out and playing golf, because you can catch a sprinkler head or catch a bad break or bad wind.”

“And when you obtain a ball speed number, it’s so different and unique.”

DeChambeau has shocked the golfing world in the last two years with his astounding driving statistics and currently leads the PGA Tour rankings for the longest average drive at 323.7 yards. 

DeChambeau certainly suits the aura of the Long Drive Championships but has some way to go before he can compete with the Championship’s biggest drivers including, 2017 winner Justin James who drove the ball a record 435 yards.

But his comments have spelled fresh concerns over where his priorities lie coming into the Ryder Cup. 

“It’s more of an arena environment with massive speakers pumping music and energy drinks to get you amped up,” he said, speaking on the Long Drive Championships. 

“We’re going up against the next guy. It’s not necessarily playing against the golf course; I’m trying to be faster than that guy. It’s a head-to-head competition, which I personally like and enjoy.”

“It’s totally different from the environment on Tour. I appreciate and respect that environment, but the long drive environment is tailored more to what I like to do because you can say things and do things that are a little different than out here.”

Stricker will be banking on Bryson’s distance off the tee to help him navigate the 7390-yard course at Whistling Straits, one of the longest courses on the USGA circuit. 

Meanwhile, Brooks Keopka has also spoken candidly in an interview ahead of the Ryder Cup, expressing his reservations over the tournament’s playing structure. 

“It’s different. It’s hectic. It’s a bit odd if I’m honest,” Koepka told Golf Digest in an interview. 

I don’t want to say it’s a bad week. We’re just so individualised, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it’s like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It’s the opposite of what happens during a major week.”

At 31-years of age, this will be Koepka’s third Ryder Cup appearance, representing Team USA at the 2016 and 2018 tournaments while maintaining an admirable record of 4-3-1 matches won, drawn, and lost. 

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But for Koepka, the team dynamics of the tournament don’t sit well with his style of play.  

“At a major, you’re only concerned about yourself. At the Ryder Cup, that dynamic is different,” he said.

It’s tough. There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me? I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss.”

That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things. You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine. I can barely see my (personal) team. It’s hard to even go to the gym.” 

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Koepka’s comments have not been well-received, with 2008 Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger calling out the four-time major winner on an NBC Golf teleconference, “if he (Brooks) doesn’t love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup.

Not everyone embraces it, but if you aren’t sold on it, then I think Brooks should consider whether or not he really wants to be there, especially as he is hurt,” Azinger said, noting the wrist injury that saw him withdraw from the Tour Championship two weeks ago. 

Their comments have left Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker in a difficult position. 

With unrest in his 12-man squad and just over a week to go until the tournament, Stricker will be thinking carefully about his Friday and Saturday pairings and how to maintain focus and harmony within his talented USA team. 

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