Will the Bryson DeChambeau-Brooks Koepka spat hurt the USA’s Ryder Cup chances?

The Americans are odds-on favourites to win September’s showdown but the leaked video from Kiawah Island gives skipper Steve Stricker an unwelcome headache.

With this year's Ryder Cup also being played on a long, exposed Pete Dye track by water, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island will have given respective skippers Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington some useful clues.

It's still four months until the USA and Europe lock horns at Whistling Straits but the clock is ticking fast and line-ups are starting to take shape.

After rolling back the years to finish tied fourth at Kiawah, Harrington was certainly far from distracted. But he'll have taken a close note - and plenty of heart - from some of the European performances. Shane Lowry and Paul Casey finished alongside him in fourth while Jon Rahm and a resurgent Justin Rose also made the top 10.

However, in terms of pure results, Stricker probably had more to smile about. Phil Mickelson scored an incredible win to throw himself into the frame, Brooks Koepka was tied second while Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Rickie Fowler all gave the captain nudges with top-eight finishes.

And then the video dropped.

You've all seen it now: Koepka being interviewed by the Golf Channel's Todd Lewis and then rolling his eyes and admitting he's lost his train of thought as Bryson DeChambeau walks past in the background.

The video, which was recorded after round two, never went to air but was leaked on Monday night. Twitter went wild as the well-known fractious relationship between the two Americans was laid bare. The eye-rolling contempt and disdain from Koepka really is something to behold.

Some believe it's the sound of Bryson's spikes that puts him off. Others claim DeChambeau says something: one theory is that when Koepka admits that he found the greens hard to read and struggled to get putts to drop, Bryson mutters "try starting them on the right line".

The spat goes back a couple years when Koepka was one of several players to criticise DeChambeau for slow play.

The bad blood escalated when the beefed-up Bryson made a jibe about Koepka's physique. Koepka took to Twitter, using his count of four major wins to make a cutting riposte.

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Team spirit is key

So is it all a storm in a tea cup? Or this evidence of one of the fundamental reasons why the United States continue to lose Ryder Cups despite having the best side on paper.

Team spirit is the great 'X' factor in Ryder Cups and time and time again it seems Europe use it to become greater than the sum of their parts to fuel memorable and emotional victories.

Golf fans pointed to another great example of that early this year when the European Tour's superb social media team released the brilliant Anger Management Group Therapy video.

With Tommy Fleetwood acting as course leader, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Matt Wallace, Henrik Stenson, Eddie Pepperell and Martin Kaymer all send themselves up magnificently. Potential flashpoints of their personalities are used as fuel for laughter.

As well as applauding the video's comic content, many viewers came to another quick conclusion: "that's Europe winning the Ryder Cup then".

The implication was obvious. All that self-deprecation and good-spirited mickey-taking is brilliant for team bonding. It comes naturally to the Europeans; in the American camp it's either forced or simply not there at all.

While we're not privy to everything that goes on behind closed doors, the fallout of past US defeats has shone a light.

The Americans were clearly a divided bunch when losing at Gleneagles in 2014, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods weren't the closest of friends when being forced into partnership by Hal Sutton in 2004 and many would say it's hard to love Patrick Reed for one week when you spend the other 51 quietly despising him.

Brooks v Bryson isn't something we need to make guesses about. It's out there in all its naked mutual contempt. Koepka thinks DeChambeau's scientific pontifications are "bullshit"; DeChambeau finds Koepka surly and disrespectful.

But will those potential problems in the USA camp ultimately be decisive?

Home advantage can't be ignored

Since 1995, Europe have won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups. In the majority of those they've been underdogs. It's an incredible record.

But let's filter out matches played on European soil and a different picture emerges. Starting from 1999 results have gone like this:

1999 United States 14.5 Europe 13.5 (Brookline)

2004 United States 9.5 Europe 18.5 (Oakland Hills)

2008 United States 16.5 Europe 11.5 (Valhalla)

2012 United States 13.5 Europe 14.5 (Medinah)

2016 United States 17-11 Europe 11 (Hazeltine)

That's three wins out of five for the Americans. A very different picture to the overall one and there's an obvious explanation.

Home advantage in Ryder Cups doesn't just extend to boisterous fans. It also gives the home captain chance to manipulate the course set-up.

Thomas Bjorn used that to his advantage wonderfully well at Le Golf National, negating America's bombers with tight fairways to put more emphasis on precision.

Stricker will go the other way at Whistling Straits.

Based on those results on American turf and the way the course will be set up, it's fair that the USA are favourites.

Paddy Power currently go: USA 4/6, Europe 6/4, Tie 10/1.

But would you be happy taking that short odds-on price on a team which has the potential for in-fighting? Or will the diplomatic skills of Stricker be able to keep a lid on it all?

With the duelling DeChambeau and Koepka absolute locks to make the team, one thing does seem clear: if the United States are to win, it won't be due to boasting a tighter dressing room.

READ MORE: Mickelson reflects: How failing to beat Xander Schauffele helped him win the PGA Championship

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