So far Team USA has kept Europe at arm's length in this year’s Ryder Cup and is frighteningly close to winning the biennial blood feud for just the third time in 20 years.
But right now the only thing standing in the way of the U.S. taking back a very shiny trophy is apparently the land itself.
Saturday morning Daniel Berger’s tee shot on the 15th hole wound up in the grass just outside a bunker. Berger’s teammate, Brooks Koepka, was up to take the next shot and appealed to officials that he needed a free drop because the ball was much too close to a nearby drain for him to hit. This is how Koepka ended up in a 10-minute shouting match so brolic that it forced Team Europe's Sergio Garcia into a spit take as he and partner Jon Rahm watched in amazement.
Pleading his case with the simple, yet forceful, “Have you ever seen me hit a ball,” it’s important to understand here that Brooks Koepka is just being mindful of the health and safety of the assembled spectators at Whistling Straits and the population of greater Sheboygan. Koepka knows that the full force of his drive is only comparable to a ballistic missile being launched from an Ohio-class submarine.
Koepka has won four major championships, with his first coming at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. He is a man who understands America’s Heartland, who knows that sometimes the best way to manage safety and freedom is through not recognizing authority and muscling the refs in the most egregious ways possible.
Is it possible he was being cautious after injuring his wrist 12 days ago when he hit a tree root on the 10th hole at the The Tour Championship? Perhaps. Koepka did indeed have to withdraw from that tournament after the injury. But let me ask you something: Have you seen this man hit a ball? The problem was clearly not the drains. This was never about the irrigation system. No, the problem is that Koepka is so thoroughly yoked that when he uncorks a shot, there are guaranteed to be serious ramifications.
Koepka and Berger, both graduates of Florida State University, coincidentally, were so incensed by this injustice that after the first PGA official told Koepka to play on, he asked to see a different manager. When that failed, he was left with no option but to drop the hammer and let the consequences be damned. Or, as he told the officials: "If I break my wrist, it's on fucking both of you guys."
Koepka hit the ball on the green, from there he and Berger two-putted for par and tied with the Europeans on the hole. In the end Koepka’s wrist survived, but he and Berger lost the match to Garcia and Rahm.
Returning to his jet ski to meditate on the shores of Lake Michigan, one imagines Koepka was at least assured that he kept the public at large safe, and ultimately America won the day, even if it meant that he, personally, had to lose. Wait, what's that? He talked about this exact thing in a recent interview with Golf Digest published before the Ryder Cup:
"There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me? I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things. You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine."
Let us hope the amber waves of grain and Wisconsin's fruited plains do not get in the way of Team USA sealing the victory over Europe. The Americans finished the day on a score of 11-5, their largest Ryder Cup lead going into the final day of play since 1975. Florida State, however, continued its losing streak on Saturday.