LIV Golf: Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka critical of Saudi-funded series


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Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are getting a little testy when talk turns to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.

Asked on Tuesday during U.S. Open media availability if there was a price that would make him consider leaving the PGA Tour, two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka says he hasn’t given it much thought.

And then he repeated his biggest concern: “I’m trying to focus on the U.S. Open, man. I legitimately don’t get it. I’m tired of the conversations. I’m tired of all this stuff.”

Koepka’s younger brother, Chase, was among those playing the LIV event last week in the U.K. Brooks Koepka was among the first players to denounce the idea of a small field playing no-cut events with a team format. That was in March 2020 when it was a different organization attempting to create a new league.

Koepka is the last player to win the U.S. Open back to back, in 2017 and 2018. He was runner-up to Gary Woodland at Pebble Beach in 2019. He missed 2020 with an injury and tied for fourth last year at Torrey Pines.

That means only four players beat him in the last four U.S. Opens. His reaction? “I wish it was less,” he said.

Meanwhile, McIlroy says he understands why the 40-50-something 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 going.

“I think they would say to you themselves that their best days are behind them,” the 33-year-old McIlroy said Tuesday of the players in their 40s and 50s who have signed on with the rival golf series.

But, he said, younger players still have plenty to play for and might still have their best days ahead of them.

“So that’s where it feels like you’re taking the easy way out,” McIlroy said.

The four-time major winner has been among the most forceful advocates for the PGA Tour, and he reiterated his support for the tour — while taking a few digs at LIV frontman Greg Norman — in his victory news conference Sunday at the Canadian Open.

Most of his Q&A with reporters Tuesday was focused on the newly forming schism in golf and his relationship with players who have left. Mickelson received a reported $200 million to go and Dustin Johnson received a reported $150 million.

Asked if he had lost respect for Mickleson, McIlroy said “as a golfer, I have the utmost respect for Phil.”

“I’ve been disappointed with how he has [gone] about what he has done,” McIlroy said. “But I think he has come back and shown some remorse about how he has handled some things so I think he has learned from that.”

Reporting by Associated Press

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