Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington has warned mutual enmity between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau could make rather than break the United States at Whistling Straits.
Koepka and DeChambeau have traded public blows for much of this year, forming an intriguing backdrop to next weekend’s visit of Harrington’s team to the US. The PGA Tour had to step in to warn unruly spectators not to goad DeChambeau during tournaments.
Harrington, though, is wary of the widespread sense that hostility between the world’s seventh- and ninth-ranked golfers will negatively impact on US attempts to reclaim the trophy.
“When you have friction between players, you bring them into a team environment and you overcome it, that’s actually a big bonus to the team,” Harrington told the Guardian as part of an exclusive interview to be published on Saturday. “If I focused on the US and had this idea of ‘Hey, look, this is going to impact their vibe’ or whatever, it could actually work in reverse.
“If they [Koepka and DeChambeau] get their act together and pull together, the team sees that and pulls together really strongly. All of a sudden you get an uplift from it. That’s why I’m not relying on it. As a captain [of the US], I’d see it as something that could work in my favour. If I can get these guys to show unity, the rest of the team would follow. We can’t rely on it.”
Harrington drew a comparison with the situation between himself and Sergio García. Although long since resolved, the duo had well known clashes earlier in their careers. Both formed part of generally successful European Ryder Cup teams. García was one of Harrington’s wildcard picks this time around.
“If it was my team, we’d be working on it,” Harrington added. “You could say myself and Sergio had that little bit of friction over the years, which we easily overcame on weeks of the Ryder Cup. We would be hugging at a Ryder Cup.”
Koepka has declared himself fit and available for the Ryder Cup after a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from his last event, the Tour Championship at East Lake.