Dustin Johnson spoke at length about his frustration Wednesday with rival Bryson DeChambeau after the two went 1-2 in Monday’s “The Match” match play exhibition in California. Later in the day, Patrick Reed, who teamed with Johnson, sent out a tweet calling DeChambeau “a total attention seeker.”
DeChambeau will not be able to defend his PGA Tour title at the Shaw Charity Classic this week because he flew to California to help captain Tom Watson prepare for this week’s Ryder Cup. Johnson will defend his title at the $5.7 million tournament Friday through Sunday.
Johnson spoke at length Wednesday at the Kingsmill Resort about his frustrations after DeChambeau beat him 1-up in the 36-hole exhibition. Johnson took exception with a video DeChambeau made in the clubhouse after the match. In the video, DeChambeau said he felt betrayed by Johnson and didn’t think Johnson followed through on the promises they made after making contact on the first tee.
Johnson said he was upset by the video. “I’ve never watched it,” Johnson said. “He paid me to show him how to win golf tournaments, and when you make a promise, you follow through. And if you don’t, you’re going to pay a price.”
Johnson lost to Branden Grace, and Rory McIlroy lost to DeChambeau. In the ultimate victory, Koepka beat DeChambeau on the 16th hole. Asked how he felt, Koepka said: “Honestly, I just wanted to spank him.”
Reed didn’t mention DeChambeau in his tweet and didn’t sound so angry. But he did cite “my passion for the game and my dedication to it after being hurt in practice,” including a knee injury during last year’s Masters.
“I can’t help but feel bad for @BrysonDeChambeau,” Reed tweeted. “To me he’s a total attention seeker, probably thinks he’s too great for every criticism and teammate comments he gets!”
In his weekly taped interviews, which are shown on the Golf Channel and on Golf Channel.com Thursday and Friday, Johnson defended his anger.
“I don’t think I was uncomfortable when I played (DeChambeau),” Johnson said. “We made a lot of great shots out there, but I think as we got into the round, I really took over the game of golf. When you’re playing well, you’re just a different kind of player. He was playing good out there, so when you play well, the ball finds the hole and you get excited. After you lose your cool, then you’ve got to be careful with that. But I don’t have any regrets. I was happy with how I played the course.”
Koepka wound up by one. He beat DeChambeau on the 16th hole, and Koepka talked about his approach.
“I try to (finally) get out of my head after I’m not making putts,” Koepka said. “I don’t have a point of view when I’m not making birdies. I just try to get a good ball flight out there. … I was tired of looking up and seeing 1-up shots.”
DeChambeau has a reputation for high self-esteem, but Johnson downplayed it.
“He’s not a cocky guy,” Johnson said. “But a lot of people think he is. The guys who know Bryson do tell me that he’s got to be cocky. He likes to play that way. He’ll always brag, but I think the way I spoke about it makes him realize he needs to play differently than he was playing.”
DeChambeau issued a statement Wednesday night: “We have our differences; every teammate and friend does. But at the end of the day, I think there are areas I think we can work to improve on, and I am excited to continue our friendship. Let me also add, as always, that our friendship is solid.”
This is Lewis’ second consecutive weekend at Kingsmill. She has been on top of the leaderboard more than half the time in her tour career. She was at 9-under Friday and five shots behind Johnson, who went 12-under through 36 holes.