Golf

Paul Azinger on Brooks Koepka: 'I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much'


Ryder Cup week is almost here. The buzz is building. The subplots are percolating. And NBC’s Paul Azinger is wondering out loud if everyone on the U.S. side is all in.

During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Azinger, who captained the 2008 U.S. squad to victory over Nick Faldo’s European team, was asked about the Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka dynamic.

“If you were in the position of being the U.S. captain, what would you say to Brooks and Bryson and some of the guys who have had, I guess, prickly relationships in the last few months?” he was asked.

Azinger said first off that everyone would need to set their issues aside, then remarked how DeChambeau and Koepka could lead the way, by putting “the United States on their shoulders and carry this Ryder Cup team.”

But “they can also be a royal pain in the neck,” he added before commenting on a recent Golf Digest article in which Koepka talked about several things, including the Ryder Cup.

“Brooks, when I just read that article, I’m not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much,” Azinger said. “If he doesn’t love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup. Not everybody embraces it, but if you don’t love it and you’re not sold out, then I think Brooks should — especially being hurt, should consider whether or not he really wants to be there.”

Koepka is recovering from a wrist injury. He withdrew during the third round of the Tour Championship 11 days ago, two holes after he hit a tree root at impact while attempting an approach shot. He was the lone member of the 12-man U.S. squad to miss the two-day practice session at Whistling Straits last Sunday and Monday.

“Brooks is one of the most candid, most honest guys there is, and if he’s blatantly honest with himself and doesn’t want to be there, he should come out and say it,” Azinger said. “I don’t know, I’m a fan of both players. I just feel like it’s going to be one or the other. They’re going to put the weight of the team on their shoulders, or they’re going to be a pain in the neck.”

Koepka explained his Ryder Cup experiences in a the Digest interview with Matthew Rudy.

“It’s different. It’s hectic. It’s a bit odd, if I’m honest,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s a bad week. We’re just so individualized, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it’s like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It’s the opposite of what happens during a major week. If I break down a major week, it’s so chill. You wouldn’t even believe me.”



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