Brooks Kopka and Rory McIlroy get a little testy when it comes to the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV golf series.
When asked Tuesday during US Open media availability if there was a prize that would make him leave the PGA Tour, two-time US Open champion Koepka said he hadn’t given it much thought.
And then he reiterated his biggest concern: “Trying to focus on the US Open, man. I legitimately don’t understand. I’m tired of the conversations. I’m tired of all that stuff.”
Koepka’s younger brother, Chase, was among those playing at the LIV event in the UK last week. Brooks Koepka was among the first players to decry the idea of a small field holding no-cut events with a team format. That was in March 2020 when another organization was trying to create a new league.
Koepka is the last player to win back-to-back US Opens in 2017 and 2018. In 2019 he finished second to Gary Woodland at Pebble Beach. He missed 2020 with an injury and finished fourth at Torrey Pines last year.
That means only four players have beaten him in the last four US Opens. His reaction? “I wish there were less,” he said.
Meanwhile, McIlroy says he understands why the 40-50-strong crowd, led by Phil Mickelson, might be willing to take the money from the LIV Tour. But he doesn’t understand why other players are leaving.
“I think they would tell you themselves that their best days are behind them,” McIlroy, 33, said Tuesday of the players in their 40s and 50s who have signed on to the rival golf series.
But, he said, younger players still have a lot to play for and may still have their best days ahead.
“It feels like you’re going the easy way,” McIlroy said.
The four-time major winner has been among the most vocal supporters of the PGA Tour, reaffirming his support for the tour – while taking a few jabs at LIV frontman Greg Norman – in his victory press conference at the Canadian Open on Sunday.
Most of his Q&A with reporters on Tuesday focused on the emerging schism in golf and its relationship with players who have left. Mickelson reportedly received $200 million and Dustin Johnson reportedly received $150 million.
When asked if he’s lost respect for Mickleson, McIlroy said, “As a golfer, I have the utmost respect for Phil.”
“I was disappointed with how he did it [gone] about what he did,” McIlroy said. “But I think he came back and showed some regrets about how he handled some things, so I think he learned from that.”
Associated Press coverage
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