A Pleasant Glimpse Into Golf’s Secret World of Bitter Feuds
On condition that golf information not involving Tiger Woods stays primarily a distinct segment concern, it got here as a shock to see the extent to which Koepka’s interview penetrated mainstream tradition. Nationwide media reported on the incident with delight, and the clip was considered hundreds of thousands of instances on-line. Memes cropped up like ragweed. The entire affair even eclipsed the precise victor that week: Phil Mickelson, who at 50 grew to become the oldest participant ever to win a serious championship. That achievement was, we thought, simply in regards to the largest non-Tiger story the game may generate. However Koepka’s expression, it appeared, tapped into one thing common; his sheer annoyance transcended the sport.
Every week later, over on the earth of tennis, the most important information of the 2021 French Open additionally emerged from outdoors the competitors itself. Simply earlier than the match, the second-seeded Japanese famous person, Naomi Osaka, introduced that she was unwilling to attend the occasion’s obligatory information conferences, citing emotions of melancholy and nervousness associated to these obligations. And when officers pushed again, threatening punitive measures past the fines Osaka anticipated, she referred to as their bluff, withdrawing from the match after her first-round victory. Not solely did the Open lose an off-court stare-down with one of many sport’s premier sights, however — in an echo of Mickelson’s win — hardly anybody was paying a lot consideration to what was taking place on the court docket itself. Match officers would clearly have most well-liked for all this to be ironed out behind closed doorways, however as Osaka continued to prosecute her case on social media, the story spun additional and farther from their management.
That’s what occurred with the Brooks-Bryson face-off as nicely. After Koepka’s fusillade of swearing, the Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis, who was conducting the interview, joked that “we’re going to take pleasure in that within the TV compound later” — suggesting the section would by no means make it to air, however can be shared among the many media employees who make golf seem so nicely mannered. To which Koepka replied, “I actually wouldn’t even care.”
For these used to following rough-and-tumble staff sports activities like soccer or hockey, it might be troublesome to understand simply how norm-breaking conduct like this may be. Even because the video dominated headlines, the game’s previous guard hastened to downplay it. No much less an august determine than Jack Nicklaus dismissed the rivalry as “media pushed,” which is true principally within the sense that Koepka and DeChambeau have certainly repeatedly used the media to specific how a lot they genuinely dislike one another. The game’s dread of confrontation is constructed on a century-old anthropologist’s dream of class-driven mores, but when the favored response to Koepka’s face in that interview makes one factor clear, it’s that these golfers aren’t those appearing bizarre. Golf itself is.
Tennis, too. The French Open officers’ makes an attempt to make Osaka adjust to media guidelines are in some methods comprehensible: They’ve commitments to reporters and sponsors, and excusing one participant from her obligations whereas requiring others to meet them may, arguably, create a aggressive imbalance. (Within the type of improvement you might hardly make up, the match’s Eleventh-seeded participant, Petra Kvitova, quickly injured her ankle throughout a information convention and needed to withdraw.) What feels unusual is their evident perception that they might prevail at a time when their leverage has by no means been much less in proof. Osaka made some $50 million final yr and first introduced her refusal to do press to round 2.4 million followers on Instagram. She’s no nice lover of clay courts, and it’s seemingly her expectations for fulfillment on the match have been modest to start with. And but tennis apparatchiks appear to have assumed she would fall in line for a similar cause golf ones presumed Koepka’s interview can be quietly handed round a non-public room: as a result of that’s the accomplished factor.