Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau clear the air after slow play drama

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau clear the air after slow play drama

PGA Tour

Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau clear the air after slow play drama

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau met face-to-face Sunday morning to discuss one of golf’s forever battlegrounds: Slow play.

Koepka and DeChambeau have different perspectives, but with the Statue of Liberty serving as the backdrop, here is what these fellow Americans agree on:

Yes, slow play should absolutely be penalized!

“Penalizing,” DeChambeau said during an interview a few minutes after Koepka’s, “I’m a huge advocate of it.”

DeChambeau, 25, who won last year’s Northern Trust, approached Koepka’s caddie and asked for a pre-round chat with the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“He just walked up to my caddie and said he wanted to talk,” Koepka explained, “so I went and found him, but I’ll keep that between us.”

“It was awesome. It was actually fantastic,” said DeChambeau, who labeled it as a clearing of the air. “I appreciate what Brooks did. I have high respect for him because he did that.”

Koepka and DeChambeau hope this begins a process in which rules about slow play can be clarified and solutions can be found for an issue that plagues golf on every level, from the PGA Tour to weekend hackers.

“Everyone out here is probably a little more afraid of confrontation than in other sports,” said Koepka, who anticipates further talks with DeChambeau. “I think you see that. In baseball, you see it, teammates go at each other and they’re still fine. Football, same thing. Basketball, you name it, there’s always been some confrontation on the team, and sometimes it helps, to figure out what the root of the problem is and start working on it.”

DeChambeau does not anticipate further talks with Koepka. He said he told him, “I think we’ve got to start internally so we don’t have these issues come out in public and it creates a bad image for the PGA Tour.”

Why is DeChambeau a lightning rod for slow play? While players are permitted 40 seconds to hit a shot, two videos of him taking more than two minutes to hit shots went viral over the weekend.

DeChambeau is a fast walker and his argument is that it’s OK for him to take longer than the allotted time to hit a shot, as long as he is averaging well under 40 seconds per shot and keeping up with the pace of play. He said he even had his manager time him on Sunday to prove his point.

“Clearly as you saw today, I don’t know if anybody watched, but there was never any question,” said DeChambeau, who shot 1-under-par 70 to tie for 24th at 7-under 277. “We were always waiting on the [group] in front of us.”

Koepka said players with a reputation for slow play should “look in the mirror” and reflect on it “and watch a video of yourself.” He said, for example, watching videos of himself playing at Florida State helped him work through anger issues.

“I think sometimes if they were just to go back and look at the video, it might help,” Koepka said. “It might make them realize how slow it is. Yeah, that helped for me, just with anger. I’m not saying that’s the solution, but if you can get back and see some tape of yourself and realize that it’s a 10-footer, there’s not much that goes into it. You know, that’s where I don’t understand it.”

“I’ve looked at multiple instances where I’ve taken over a minute to hit a shot,” DeChambeau said. “But again, you’ve got to remember, this is not — this is not anywhere near over 10% of my shots.”

Koepka said he is not just aiming a finger in the direction of DeChambeau. He said DeChambeau is a target of many largely because of his success.

“It’s not just him. Let’s make that clear,” Koepka said. “I know he gets singled out, especially when I’m speaking about it. But it’s like I told him, I mentioned his name once and that’s it. There’s so many guys out here where it’s become an issue, and obviously with him being probably the best player that’s relatively slow right now, he’s going to be on TV a lot more, so you’re going to catch a lot more of those type of instances.”

Slow play is rarely penalized and Koepka said resolving it starts with “rules officials enforcing that.” He also said that the rules of golf produced by the United States Golf Association and the R&A should be made more specific.

“But I think it starts with players talking about it, and that’s how things change,” said Koepka, who shot 70 and tied for 30th at 6-under 278. “I think that’s how a lot of things with the Tour change. Players see things and they view problems and you know they come up with solutions, and that’s the phase we are trying to get into right now.”

“Next week we’ll have conversations internally and make it right internally,” DeChambeau said. “There should be no stresses among competitors out here. We’re all trying to provide great entertainment and do our best to play well.”

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