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Ryder Cup can save Bryson DeChambeau from his reputation


KOHLER, Wis. — One week — this week — can change everything for Bryson DeChambeau.

How DeChambeau performs and behaves at the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits has potential to change both the public perception of him and his career narrative.

DeChambeau, playing in his second career Ryder Cup, went 0-3 in his first, in 2018 in France.

Since then, he’s become the most polarizing figure in golf. Much of that he’s brought on himself. Some of it has been a product of others plucking at the low-hanging fruit and antagonizing him.

There’s little question DeChambeau’s year has devolved into an unfortunate series of controversies and calamities, which have overshadowed the fact that he’s a remarkable golfing talent who’s put in tireless amounts of work to become better.

The problem is that DeChambeau, while meaning well, seemingly cannot help himself from putting his foot in his mouth and rubbing some people the wrong way.

The latest cloud that’s followed him came as a result of his comments in August about why he opted to not get vaccinated, claiming he was saving the doses for those more in need than him when the facts are that there are plenty of doses available for all and governing bodies are begging people to take them.

When DeChambeau’s comments were reported (and subsequently ridiculed), instead of looking inward, he opted to blame the messengers and has boycotted the media since.

Until Tuesday.

“This is a team event,’’ DeChambeau said. “I’m focused on helping Team USA to a victory, and that’s honestly the reason why I’m here.’’

Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau
Getty Images

All of the controversy and calamity aside — including his recent claim that he’s ripped up his hand while practicing for an upcoming long-drive competition (inciting people to question how much he cares about the Ryder Cup) imagine this scenario:

The 28-year-old DeChambeau winning three, four, maybe even five points for the U.S. in a victorious Ryder Cup, celebrated by his teammates — yes, even his nemesis, Brooks Koepka — and he becomes a national sports hero.

You know what happens then?

The nonsensical, ego-driven feud with Koepka is pushed aside, drunk, attention-seeking fans stop calling him “Brooksie’’ and DeChambeau is viewed through a completely different — more respected — lens than he is today.

Bryson DeChambeau
Getty Images

“Look, I’m not trying to change anybody’s perception,’’ DeChambeau said. “All I’m trying to do is showcase what I can do for the game of golf. Whether people like it or not, that’s their interpretation of it. For me, again, I’m going to keep providing people with the best entertainment I possibly can. Some people may not like it, some people love it.

“I’m now doing stuff on TikTok and Instagram and YouTube, just doing to do things a little different because I want to show people who I actually am. I think it’s cool when they get to see behind the scenes a little bit, see what I do during my daily life. It kind of opens it up to, ‘Whoa, this isn’t just this person because of what people think about me out on the golf course, this is actually a human being.’

“At the end of the day, it’s not about changing anybody’s perception. I think it’s about getting the crowd behind us and allowing us to, I guess you could say, rile us up to win the Cup.’’

What if DeChambeau wins all of his matches this week in a U.S. victory and is hugged by all of his teammates, including Koepka?

“Look, I’m going to try to get as many points as I can, and I think yeah, that could potentially change [his perception] for sure,’’ DeChambeau said.

“The perceptions are around him, it’s whatever the public creates,’’ Scottie Scheffler said. “I think everybody has an opinion on him. I have an opinion on him, as well. I think he’s a fantastic guy. I’ve known him since college. He’s always been nothing but gracious and kind to me, and he means really well.

“I think sometimes people take little tidbits of what he says and try and beat him down a little bit, and I think that’s kind of what happens in sports is people get built up and then they get torn down once they reach the top. When people make it really big like Bryson has, I think some people try and tear him down a little bit.’’

This week, with a resounding and productive performance at Whistling Straits, DeChambeau can lift himself to heights even he likely never thought possible.

The Ryder Cup is that powerful.

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