Everyone in the golf world can rest easy. The Match is set.

This week on the 26th, the day after Thanksgiving, so that everybody’s big meal can settle and afternoon naps fueled by turkey are out of the way, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will play golf. Against each other. One on one. In Las Vegas.

For those into this sort of thing, this might be bigger than the Super Bowl, March Madness and the Stanley Cup Final. Two professional golfers who clearly aren’t especially fond of each other going mano a mano in a 12-rounder. It can be  assumed that the fact they’re playing 12 holes instead of 18 has two prompts: 1. It makes for a much trimmer television package (and that, after all, is the point), and 2. 12 rounds has a nice ring to it, like a 12-round championship bout in boxing.

Not that anyone expects a fight to break out. But you might tune in just in case, right?

The fact that this match will be played at the Wynn Golf Club, conveniently nestled behind the Wynn hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, demands that gambling on the affair be a big part of the event. Of course, the folks who juggle these numbers in the secret rooms in Vegas already are out with early lines, and DeChambeau, he of the monster drives, is a slight favorite.

So, who wins (other than the sports books)?

Solid cases can be made for each player. DeChambeau is fantastic off the tee and is a much better putter. Koepka typically has a more impressive record in approach shots, and he has won four majors to DeChambeau’s one, a statistic of real value when trying to compare the two in a toe-to-toe contest.

The tone of the match might determine the winner. If the two shake hands on the first tee and then turn into growling antagonists with fire flying from their ears and their mouths foaming, the pendulum might swing toward DeChambeau, who seems to like that sort of thing. If they appear to be friendly after opening drives and on the first green, Koepka might have the edge. 

If Koepka can win a couple of holes and put DeChambeau on the defensive, in effect forcing him to try to coax even longer drives from his already-stressed clubs, Brooks might roll.

The two have feuded for most of two years, and their somewhat-staged hug in the cheery aftermath of the United States team’s Ryder Cup victory isn’t likely to solve the problems that keep one under the other’s skin. If Koepka, for example, complains about DeChambeau’s slow play on the first hole, either for real or as a gambit, the match might call for bringing on the boxing gloves. That’s a bit awkward for golf.

The best idea for this Thanksgiving week battle is simply to sit back and enjoy it. But if you must bet, it’s hard to pass up DeChambeau’s power.

Watch the action live at 4p.m. ET November 26, 2021 on TNT’s family of channels, including TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN, or stream it using a cable subscription at tntdrama.com/watchtnt.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.