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DeChambeau, Koepka should be left off team

Columnist Bruce Penton writes about the upcoming Ryder Cup
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The world of golf needs shaking up, so how great would it be if U.S. Ryder cup captain Steve Stricker said ‘to heck with the rules, I’m leaving Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka off this year’s team.’

Unfortunately, he apparently can’t do that, so the two golf stars embroiled in a year-long childish rivalry will be wearing the same uniform and apparently cheering each other on as the Americans try to win the Cup on home soil Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

DeChambeau and Koepka have both performed well enough over the past two years to accumulate enough Ryder Cup points to automatically qualify for the team, bringing into question what sort of chemistry the 12-player team will have in trying to stem the recent tide of European dominance.

Stricker says the war between the two is over. Sure, and I’m vacationing next week in Kabul.

“They assured me that the team and the country … is their (top priority),” Stricker said in a Sports Illustrated story. “They say it’s not going to be an issue, and I believe them. I trust them.”

While the U.S. has an overall 26-14 lead in the biennial competition, the European side has been far better recently, winning four of the past five and nine of 12.

Stricker is saddled with six automatic picks, and gets to choose six wildcards. Is it possible he could break with tradition and eschew two of the ‘automatic’ picks and choose eight wildcards? The PGA of America probably wouldn’t give him such authority, but if he were able to send both Koepka and DeChambeau to their rooms without supper for the Ryder Cup weekend, much of the golf world would cheer.

The two have been nitpicking at each other on social media and in person in a variety of childish ways and are at the point now where they can’t be civil to each other. How can that situation be allowed to transpire in a competition where ‘team’ plays such a pivotal role in the results? Stricker will probably orchestrate a huge pre-event hug and have them swear that bygones are truly bygones, but it would have all the authenticity of Donald Trump and Joe Biden spending a weekend together in the Hamptons.

If a hockey coach can bench a star player for insubordination, a Ryder Cup captain should be allowed to take similar action. It would be great if Stricker were to leave DeChambeau and Koepka at home and have them show up in 2023 in Italy with their pettiness and grudges a long forgotten thing of the past.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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