Bad blood whistled through the contrived, man-made dunes by the lake through Saturday. This time, it had nothing to do with the boorish comments emanating from boozed-up fans directed at the European players; rather, the displays came within the ropes as a couple of contentious issues brought players’ blood to boiling point.
Firstly, let's visit the ruling sought by Brooks Koepka – with his partner Daniel Berger riding shotgun – in the morning foursomes with the Spanish pairing of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm.
Berger's drive veered right into one of the waste bunkers. It was in a clump of grass and Koepka sought free relief, claiming a barely visible drain interfered with his swing. David Price, the match referee, disagreed with Koepka.
“You ever seen me hit a ball?” asked Koepka.
“I’ve seen you hit plenty of balls,” Price responded.
Koepka asked for a second opinion and it was the same as Price’s.
It was at this point that Koepka – and sidekick Berger – rowed in with profanity.
Koepka, who missed a number of weeks with an injured wrist late in the season, pointed at both officials: “If I break my wrist, it’s on f***ing both of you,” he said.
“Bullshit,” added Berger.
As it happened, the officials were right and Koepka managed to play a recovery shot without any interference.
For sure, Koepka’s zealous response left a sour taste. But, more than that, was there a potential for him to be disqualified for serious misconduct under Rule 1.2?
While disqualification is the sanction when behaviour is deemed to constitute “serious misconduct”, there is an out so to speak in the rule book, in that the committee can take the view that a warning may be appropriate.
Koepka’s and Berger’s bad language and the tone of the words directed towards the officials went unpunished, but it certainly warrants a look into future captains’ agreements to ensure that such behaviour isn’t tolerated.
The second note of controversy came in the fourballs and again involved a match with Rahm and Garcia, this time against Jordan Spieth and Koepka. On the fifth hole, Rahm's drive went into the water and the players agreed a point of entry only for a spotter to indicate the ball had actually crossed the hazard line some 20 yards further up, closer to the green, which would have improved Rahm's chances of reaching the green in three.
Spieth vehemently disagreed, at which point Rahm's caddie Adam Hayes got involved in the argument, which went on for more than a minute. Ultimately, it was decided to agree on the original crossing point and, later in the match, Hayes and Spieth were seen to shake hands in making up.