If Shooter McGavin tunes in to Friday’s fifth edition of The Match on TNT, which will pit supposedly bitter PGA rivals Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka against each other in a 12-hole, match play format, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he harkens back to his rivalry with Happy Gilmore and exclaims, “This is golf, not a rock concert!”
Actually, it’s a bit of both — with some combat sport/WWE gamesmanship mixed in and plenty of incentive to ham it up.
The first thing to know is that, prior to this season, the PGA created a $40 million Player Impact Program, which will divide that lucrative pot between the 10 players who, according to Golf.com, notch the highest “impact scores” based on “factors such as FedEx Cup rank, Google search popularity, brand exposure, social media engagement, and more.” And whichever golfer scores the highest gets $8 million.
In the social media realm, nothing attracts attention like beef, and DeChambeau and Koepka have had plenty of it over the past few years, constantly razzing each other about slow play or loud spikes or uncut abs. But they’ve taken things to new — and suspiciously pitched — levels since the PIP was established, and have, as a direct result, become the clear frontrunners for the program’s grand prize.
Real beef or Beyond Meat?
DeChambeau and Koepka’s beef seemed to simmer down when they hugged it out after playing together on the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team in late September. But when it was announced that they’d be squaring off in The Match V at Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas, things got cooking again.
Brooks and Bryson finish the presser by hugging it out in the middle of the room pic.twitter.com/qxOBXjsu7H
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) September 26, 2021
Hence, there’s something about the current state of Brooks and Bryson’s beef that feels more Beyond Meat than ground chuck. In the run-up to the event, the pair have been trading petty insults like prizefighters at a weigh-in.
“I can’t tell how much of it has been manufactured for clicks,” said RotoGrinders Sports Betting Editor Matt Schmitto. “I’ve seen them kind of revamp their trash-talking over the past couple of weeks. I think Brooks probably doesn’t like Bryson and Bryson would be friends with Brooks if he allowed it. I think we’ll find out over the course of 12 holes whether they really like each other.”
One thing that is certain is the duo will have to play 12 holes of golf — down from the usual 18, presumably to account for tryptophan hangovers — against each other Friday in Sin City. And DeChambeau, who teamed up with fellow anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers in Montana to win July’s fourth edition of The Match, is the undisputed favorite to prevail. His odds range from -115 at Betfred to -141 at MaximBet, which is offering the most creative menu of props on the event. (WynnBET, whose parent company is hosting The Match, said it would post its props sometime on Thanksgiving Day.)
One of MaximBet’s props is which golfer will mash the longest drive of the day. DeChambeau is the longest driver that the pro tour has ever seen, so it’s no surprise that he’s a -400 favorite to hit it longer than Koepka (+320).
Keyword "giant"… sounds challenging 👀 https://t.co/XfoKqq4yxs
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) November 18, 2021
Phil, Chuck, beer, protein shakes, and tight sleeves
Schmitto said he’d put some dough down on Koepka if he can get plus money, and as of Tuesday afternoon PointsBet (+105), the SuperBook (+110), and MaximBet (+135) were all offering plus odds. Meanwhile, FanDuel installed DeChambeau as a -116 favorite, with Koepka at -112.
“There seems to be a good amount of risk on the course, which might kind of help Brooks,” said Schmitto. “Bryson’s just gonna be trying to outdrive Brooks by a football field if he can, and who knows where the ball will end up?”
Then again, Schmitto pointed out that Koekpa’s missed his last two PGA tourney cuts. “The course isn’t very long, but it is wide open, which will allow Bryson to fire away,” he said. “Even if he hits the wrong fairway, he’ll still have angles at the green. There’s also a 590-yard par 5, guarded by water, that should play to DeChambeau’s advantage. Of course, Brooks can hit the ball plenty far, too. Overall, the course should provide a level playing field and set up great for a match play.”
With former Match champions Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley providing TV commentary for Friday’s event, Schmitto said one prop he’d like to see offered is “Who has more money on the match between Phil and Chuck?”
Schmitto would also like to see a prop offered on whether the competitors will hug at the end of the match, as well as whether Koepka will drink more Michelob Ultras during his round than DeChambeau will consume protein shakes.
Then there’s the matter of the two beefcakes’ shirt game.
“My wife swears that Brooks hems his sleeves to make them tighter,” said Schmitto, “so I think he’s a pretty big favorite to have tighter sleeves.”
Photo: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY