HAVEN, Wis. — In 2004, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton infamously paired rivals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in Friday's opening matches because he said it was what everybody wanted to see.
On Thursday, Steve Stricker avoided such temptations just to see what might happen if he put Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka together when alternate-shot matches tee off early Friday morning at Whistling Straits.
Koepka teams with 2017 Presidents Cup partner Daniel Berger in the third match against 11-time Ryder Cupper Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick. DeChambeau is one of four U.S. players not playing the morning session.
Years later, Sutton said he hoped to teach his superstars something about teamwork. If they left better friends, all the better after a competition the Americans resoundingly lost on their home turf at Oakland Hills.
Stricker has called an icy relationship between big hitters and major champs Koepka and DeChambeau — fueled by social-media trolling — a "non-issue for me and the team." He said they addressed any issues or non-issues over dinner at the recent Tour Championship and this week at Whistling Straits.
"I've had conversations with them both and they have assured me it's not going to be an issue," Stricker said. "I have no worries whatsoever."
The two have spatted on social media on and off since 2019, on everything from the methodical, scientific DeChambeau's slow play and clattering metal spikes to Koepka's physique and abs, or lack thereof.
The U.S. team on Tuesday night tweeted a stylistically produced 27-second video that showed Koepka crossing the Whistling Straits' practice range for a brief conversation with DeChambeau.
Like both players' words this week, it's intended to say there's no schism to see here on an American team known historically for its individualism.
"A lot of this social media stuff has definitely been driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two," DeChambeau said on Tuesday. "We had great conversations Tour Championship week and this week as well. I sat down and had dinner with him last night and it was fine."