Steve Stricker fidgets in his Wisconsin mansion this afternoon stewing about two guys: Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, golf’s modern-day Hatfields and McCoys.
It’s Stricker’s job to choose the 12 best U.S. players for the Team USA Team that will lose to Team Europe September 24-26 in Kohler, Wisconsin at the highly jingoistic Ryder Cup golf championship.
Boz and Koepka, ranked fourth and seventh according to the World Golf Ranking, are obvious choices for the team. But there’s one problem: They don’t get along and have divergent views on how to approach a golf career.
How can you form a cohesive team when two of your key players don’t want to be in the same golf tournaments let alone on the same golf team? Won’t their presence on Team USA ensure the US chokes yet again to the Europeans and make Stricker look like a failure as team captain?
Crestfallen at these potential travesties, he doesn’t see any way the two enemies could be paired together in the tournament. But he’s wondering if maybe one of them has to be left off the team to ensure team chemistry.
To his sensible Midwestern way of thinking, you can’t have Team USA players insulting each other and sending inflammatory Tweets at each other every day this summer and during the tournament. The purpose is to beat the Europeans, not play social media torture within the same squad. It’s supposed to be a close-knit group pulling in the same direction.
“I don’t know how we can turn this into a positive,” says Stricker. “I mean, no sane person really believes these two guys are going to kiss and make up between now the Ryder Cup. I can see their feud escalating all summer long and that would not be a good vibe for Team USA to be riding.
“It’s already highly unlikely we’re going to beat the Europeans,” he added. “We choke against them regularly when we meet at the Ryder Cup. I’m thinking something has to change. One of these two guys needs to take the high road, kiss, and make up, so we can get past this golf goonery. American golf pride is on the line. It’s bigger than two petty and shallow golfers.”
From his mansion in West Palm Beach, Koepka spoke about this Ryder Cup predicament.
“Go ahead and let Boz play for all I care,” he said. “I don’t want to play any more golf than I have to. And the last thing I want to do is be on the same team as that golf creep.”
He then dove into his 100-meter pool with his girlfriend.
From his physics laboratory in the basement of his mansion in Southern California, Boz was reading how he could use machine learning to gather more data about the distance of his drives. He could then use that data to generate more accurate predictions about how far he would smash drives in the future.
“All I know is I’m renting space for free in Koepka’s head,” he said. “He’s all obsessed with my obsession with golf. It’s an exponential thing, a math phenomenon, and my space in his head is crowded out his ability to think clearly, which he doesn’t do very well, to begin with.”
His phone rings. It’s Stricker.
“Hey Boz, I’m thinking of leaving Koepka off the Ryder Cup team. What do you think?”
“Bad idea,” says Boz, (named after Brian The Boz Bosworth of Oklahoma football game in the 80s). “I think he should be on the team and we should be paired together for every match. We’ll insult each other and try to destroy each other psychologically. It’ll be great TV. The ratings will rise logarithmically. The worse we treat each other the more people will watch.”
“But the objective is for Team USA to beat Team Europe,” says Stricker.
“Let’s be real, Strick,” says Boz. “The U.S. always loses in the Ryder Cup. We have no chance. I’m going to be blasting errant drives all over the course. We know we’re going to get smoked. Might as well give the fans some good controversy. It’ll raise my profile even higher. I’ll get more big-pocketed sponsors to want to endorse me. More bank for Boz.”
Strick hangs up.
He calls Tom Brady.
“Hey Tom, I know you’ve been Tweeting about Boz and Koepka lately. Maybe you can help. I need both these guys on my Ryder Cup team but they’re incompatible and could disrupt everything.”
“Some people just don’t get along, Strick,” said Brady. “Take Belichick and me. We despise each other. But we won six Super Bowls together. Guys don’t have to like each other to win together. I say put them both on the team and pair them together for every match. So what if America gets embarrassed. Everybody will love watching them feud.”
Stricker hangs up. He puts on his bathing suit and goes out to his 100-meter swimming pool. There he sees Michael Phelps, who stops by Strick’s house once in a while to swim some laps for old time sake.
“Hey Michael, you think I should put Koepka and Boz on the Ryder Cup team together?”
“Sure, Strick,” said Phelps, who won 28 Olympic swimming medals including 23 Golds. “Put them in the same pairings every day. People love a good fight. Remember that time that South African shadowboxed me before the 100-meter fly final in the 2016 Olympics?”
“No,” said Strick. “I don’t follow swimming.”
“His shadowboxing went viral and the sport of swimming got way more popular. And I won the race and made him look like a fool.”
“But that’s different, MP,” he said. “You were competing against a guy from another country. We don’t want two guys on the same team screwing up each others’ minds. We need to win the Ryder Cup.”
“No you don’t,” said Phelps. “American loves conflict. Bring them tension. Raise the TV ratings. Make more money for your sport as I did in swimming. It’s all about making bank, Strick. I didn’t win 28 Olympic medals for the sake of winning. I won them so I would make a ton of bank doing advertisements for Subway and other companies. It’s all about the money, Strick. Go for the ratings, not the win. It pays better.”
To be continued…