Golf’s five biggest feuds as Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka face off at The Match

Brooks Koepka interview interrupted by Bryson DeChambeau

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Recognised as one of the more well-mannered sports, golf is known for its etiquette and respect, however this hasn’t stopped some of the game’s greatest from clashing both on, and off, the course. The fifth edition of ‘The Match’ will get underway in Las Vegas on Friday, as the dramatic ongoing feud between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau will finally be played out on the golf course.

Golf fans around the world have been engrossed in their ongoing battle, however the clash between the two recent Ryder Cup teammates is not the first time two golfing greats have not seen eye-to-eye.

From Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger, here is a look at some of golf’s biggest rivalries.

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau

Where else could we start? The Brooks-Bryson battle has made for entertaining viewing in recent years after Koepka’s original slow play comments in 2019 at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic whilst the PGA Tour was suspended, the pair continued to exchange blows, as DeChambeau took a jibe at the 31-year-old’s physique during a Twitch live stream.

Koepka was then quick off the mark to respond, as he tweeted: “You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!” along with an image of his four major trophies, three more than his rival has to his name.

When professional golf finally returned during project restart, their feud was reignited publicly, as a leaked video of the pair went viral at last year’s PGA Championship, after Koepka was seen pausing and then rolling his eyes in an interview as the heavy-footed DeChambeau walked by.

It seemed that their battle had finally led to a truce, after the pair embraced in a hug following Team USA’s Ryder Cup victory in September, however both have been quick to confirm there is still no love lost this week, as the pair declared the hug was forced.

With the two Americans now set to finally face off on the golf course, there could well be another dramatic chapter to add to their already stirring rivalry.

Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger

Next up we come away from Ryder Cup teammates and instead take a look at rivals in Ballesteros and Azinger.

The 1989 Ryder Cup would be the catalyst for one of the sport’s biggest battles, as sportsmanship seemingly went out of the window in the pair’s Sunday singles match at The Belfry.

With the duo on the second green, Ballesteros asked his opponent if he was OK to switch out a scuffed ball, however Azinger remarkably refused the swap to which the fiery Spaniard said: “Is this the way you want to play today?”

The pair then clashed again at 18, as Ballesteros again felt hard done by, after Azinger was able to take a somewhat fortuitous drop which helped him on his way to win the match, however their heated Ryder Cup rivalry was far from over.

Two years later they were once again paired together at the infamous 1991 event at Kiawah Island, and it would be more ball troubles that reignited their bitter feud.

As a result Ballesteros and partner Jose Maria Olazabal accused Azinger and Chip Beck of illegally swapping balls, however the Americans were never punished. Afterwards Ballesteros labelled his long-time foe a ‘liar’, despite he and his Spanish teammate roaring onto 2&1 victory.

Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh

Most in the golf world will not be surprised to see Vijay Singh on this list, with the two-time PGA Champion known for starting disputes with many on Tour.

Arguably one of his most heated encounters came with Mickelson, after the pair clashed at the 2005 Masters.

Singh had taken a jibe at the six-time major winner, accusing him of leaving long spike marks in the Augusta greens, which led to Mickelson confronting the Fijian in the locker room.

On the dispute the American said: “After sitting in the locker for a while, I heard Vijay talking to other players about it and I confronted him. He expressed his concerns. I expressed my disappointment with the way it was handled.”

Mickelson had seemingly downplayed the exchange though as the New York Post later described it as an ‘animated shouting match that nearly evolved into blows’, earning the feud a rightful position in this list.

Tiger Woods v Sergio Garcia

Another case of one of golf’s bitter European vs American rivalries comes with Woods and Sergio Garcia. The pair broke onto the world stage at similar times, and have no doubt played out a fierce rivalry ever since.

Tensions grew instantly between Woods and Garcia following an intense battle between the pair at the 1999 PGA Championship, which the American edged by a single shot. 

A year later they would meet again for a one-off match play event labelled the ‘Battle of Bighorn’ which saw Garcia come out on top this time around. 

However, it seemed Woods’ frustrations afterwards were not down to his loss, but more thanks to the outlandish celebrations the Spaniard showed throughout their clash.

In the coming years however it would be the American who came out on top on the golf course, leaving Garcia in his wake by going on to become the joint most successful PGA Tour player of all-time.

This led to their rivalry becoming more of a badmouthing match, rather than one played out on the course and after a distasteful ‘fried chicken’ remark by Garcia to the American, it seemed their feud had overstepped the mark.

Since then hostilities seemed to have somewhat died down, however both on record have categorically ruled out ever making up and getting on.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

It feels fitting to finish with arguably the game’s greatest ever battle, between two of its greatest ever players.

Woods and Mickelson were the two dominant golfers on the planet at the turn of the century, and this led them to becoming the fiercest of rivals. 

No more so than at the 2001 Masters where the pair played out one of their many famous on-course battles for arguably golf’s most prestigious prize. In a tense final round playing alongside each other it was Woods who came out on top to collect the second of his five green jackets.

Whilst there were handshakes on the 18th green post-round it appears Woods did more than meets the eye to gain an advantage, as the 15-time major winner’s former caddie Steve Williams revealed Woods played ‘mind games’ with Mickelson as the pair went down the stretch at Augusta.

As the pair’s dominance on the game has since past, their one feuding rivalry seems to have also simmered down. However the battle Woods and Mickelson played out in their prime will no doubt be remembered as one of the greatest in golf history.

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