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The fifth edition of “The Match” is scheduled to get underway this Friday at 4:00 p.m. EST at the Wynn Golf Club. Situated right on the Las Vegas strip, this Tom Fazio design plays to 6,700 yards and to a par 70. We can throw the yardage and layout out the window since the match will only be 12-holes (Nos. 16, 3, 12, 13, 11, 5, 14, 9, 7, 8, 18, 17 per Alex Myers) and the television executives had most of the say in which exact holes these two meatheads will play.
That is something which needs to be discussed and not forgotten about when deciphering one of these exhibition matches. While the hatred towards each other has seemingly ramped up leading into the week, with Brooks Koepka recently saying, “I’ve said it like 10 different times, I’ve never really liked him.”
And Bryson DeChambeau taking the scenic route to saying pretty much the same thing by stating, “It's disgusting the way the guy has tried to knock me down. There's no need for it in the game of golf, he's just tried to knock me down at every angle, every avenue. For what reason, I don't know. Maybe it's because he's jealous and wants to get a part of that PIP money from the Tour. That's probably a part of it, because it was squashed until that was announced." At the end of the day, this is made for television and charity and while both of their motivation levels appear to be high, it’s just an unknown from a handicapping perspective.
As for their actual play, we have not seen DeChambeau since the Ryder Cup and subsequently the Long Drive competition if you are a real sicko. He’s been posting religiously on social media during his downtime whether it is speed training, vacationing, or simply chopping it up with his fellow YouTubers. Yet compared to Koepka, this is probably a good thing as the four-time major winner struggled during the swing season, which DeChambeau made him well aware of.
Las Vegas was not kind to Koepka in his last trip to the Sin City as he finished in a tie for 67th at the Shriners Children’s Open and a tie for 38th in a limited field, no-cut CJ CUP. Since, he’s missed the cut at the World Wide Technology Championship and the HPE Houston Open. You could argue three of those events were simply excuses for Koepka to travel to such locations – no offense to Houston, I’ve never been – but the ball-striking looked poor in each of those outings, in particular his iron play.
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Not only that, but this will be Koepka’s first go in “The Match” as DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers took down Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in the most recent installment. Mickelson has really taken an interest in these exhibitions, and while he won’t be playing in this one, he will be making his announcing debut alongside Brian Anderson and Charles Barkley.
It isn't much, but Mickelson’s mind games have gotten to Koepka in the past, namely in the final round of the PGA Championship. In a Golf Digest interview just a couple months ago, Koepka discussed the dying art of gamesmanship, saying, “It’s a state of mind. A lot of times when I go to the course, I don’t know who I’m playing with or even my tee time. I just know it’s in the afternoon. A great example of gamesmanship is what Phil did to me at the PGA. I got trounced on that one. I thought it was pretty good what he was doing.”
Hardly the same setting or situation, having Mickelson in your ear for 12-holes is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. He’ll surely be needling – and more likely annoying – both of them and history suggests he may own ocean(course)front property in Koepka’s head.
I have begrudgingly wagered on these matches in the past, backing the underdog in each, but every streak is meant to be broken. The form, the experience, and dare I say the mental aspect all point to DeChambeau in this one. We will leave it at that as despite having skin in the game, I would rather go Black Friday shopping than watch this as the once juicy beef has been overcooked and personally, I have lost my appetite.
“The Match” Selection (Odds Via PointsBet Sportsbook):
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