And so it goes.
On the day after Thanksgiving, golf’s Biggest Rivals™ will make a vain attempt to settle their differences in a 12-hole, pay-per-view, made-for-TV showdown in Las Vegas. Emphasis on the word vain.
If the accoutrements to the denouement to Bryson/Brooks – or is it Brooks/Bryson? – feel grubby, questionable and somewhat manufactured, that’s because they are.
“The Match V”, to give it due respect, is more X-Factor than Squid Game, a contrived, meaningless exhibition trading on a rivalry hitherto comprised of eye-rolling, social media taunts and free beer.
Burr-Hamilton, this is not.
Quite apart from the horrendously selfish timing of the announcement, a matter of hours after the LPGA announced significant and laudable changes to one of the women’s game’s major championships, this utter distraction of an “event” demonstrates that which we already knew.
That everybody and everything has a price.
When evidence of enmity between the two players resurfaced in May at the US PGA Championship, our jaws collectively dropped because it was real. The animosity was authentic.
Within days, it became less compelling. The social media back and forth the two engaged in felt coordinated, prompting suggestions of collusion between the two players. The allegation was that their rivalry was, in fact, nothing more than an opportunistic, cynical attempt to claim the lion’s share of the Player Impact Program bounty. A plausible theory but one that became less likely as the summer went on. He might look like Josh Brolin but Brooks ain’t that good an actor.
As Koepka warmed into the role of Antagonist-in-Chief, DeChambeau started a slow but unmistakable retreat. The more he did, the louder the heckles got. Fans baited him with highly-imaginative, passive-aggressive calls of ‘Brooksy’ - and Bryson bit.
The more he did, the worse it got, culminating in an ugly exchange between DeChambeau and a spectator at the BMW Championship in September. That was followed in short order by the PGA Tour publishing updates to its code of conduct for spectators. In short: call Bryson ‘Brooksy’ one more time and you’ll regret it.
More recently, the temperature lowered when the pair were filmed – by multiple cameras that just so happened to be in the right place at the right time – talking (gasp!) on the driving range at the Ryder Cup. Then, in scenes reminiscent of the end of Top Gun, they hugged it out during the winning US side’s jubilant press conference. “You can be my wingman any time” etc. Had the presser gone on any longer, they may well have ended up stripping down to their shorts for a game of volleyball.
Little did we know the stage was being prepared for this: the fifth instalment of a match nobody asked for.
There is, of course, a good reason that film franchises tend not to make it to a fifth movie. It’s because they tend to have exhausted all ground by that point. Of those that have, none reside in the pantheon of cinema's greatest. Fast Five, Final Destination 5, A Good Day to Die Hard, Dragonheart: Vengeance, Ice Age: Collision Course – who can remember any of these ‘classics’? Even Rocky V felt like a bout too far, TIME magazine once including it on a list of the 100 worst ideas of the 20th century.
There are so many issues with ‘Brooks-Bryson’ it is hard to know where to start. The fact it is being played on a course that has no real repute within golf and in a city that is unapologetically “all about the money” certainly doesn’t help. Play it at Pebble Beach or St Andrews and then we'll talk.
However, there are three really significant issues in play.
One, people have lost interest. This thing was fascinating in May. It’s now October. People’s attention spans are shorter these days than they’ve ever been and so much has been written and said about and by the two men involved. Most golf fans simply have feud fatigue by this point.
Two, neither is particularly likeable. Watching two wannabe jocks slugging it out over – checks notes – 12 holes of golf and not 12 rounds in the ring seems like a colossal waste of time.
And three, it is an entirely meaningless event. This isn’t a major championship. It would matter more if they were going down the stretch at Augusta National each in with a chance of winning The Masters. But this counts for nothing, and no amount of prepared ad-libs, rehearsed banter or factory-made drama will change that.
In golf, green jackets matter, Claret Jugs matter, Wanamaker Trophies matter, Jack Nicklaus Gold Medals matter.
This pseudo-reality, lowest-common-denominator, dumbed-down drivel doesn’t.
Or at least it shouldn’t. Because let’s face it, we’ll all watch, won’t we? Despite our better instincts, we’ll tune in and, in doing so, give credibility to something devoid and undeserving of it.
We’re suckers. The joke's on us.
And so it goes.