Brooks Koepka: Masters showed LIV, Tour players can coexist

Brooks Koepka said Wednesday in Australia that he hopes the Masters showed golf fans that LIV and PGA Tour players can coexist in this fractured professional landscape.

Speaking ahead of the LIV Adelaide event, Koepka said an incident-free week at the Masters – save for CEO Greg Norman calling Augusta National’s decision to not invite him “petty” – was “the best thing for the fans to see.”

“We experience it all behind closed doors at home,” Koepka told reporters. “It was just good for the fans to see that we still communicate, we still play together, we still practice together, do everything the exact same. We’re still the same people.”

Remember when slow play and distance were the hot topics in golf and we weren’t consumed with the fracturing of the sport?

Living in South Florida, Koepka said that he bumps into a handful of Tour players almost every day, whether it’s Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas at The Grove, or Patrick Cantlay and Rickie Fowler down the street.

“I could run into 15 Tour guys if I want to in a day,” Koepka said, “and nobody has really had any negative feedback, any negative thing to say, and that would be the time to say it.”

Johnson, the 2020 Masters champion, said that he had a similar experience at Augusta.

“The fans were great, heard a lot of ‘Go Aces’” – referring to the LIV team he captains – “and I think they were really good at Augusta. Obviously, that is one place where fans are always very respectful. Everyone just respects Augusta and the Masters. It’s more about the golf than what tour you play on. I think that’s how it should be all the time.”

Bryson DeChambeau, who is still a part of the antitrust lawsuit against the Tour, also added that he didn’t have any unexpected run-ins with players.

“Everybody that I had previously had relationships with, nothing changed from my perspective,” he said. “A lot of it’s the media sometimes. I understand it. I think we all do. But at a certain point in time, we’re all golfers. We still play great golf, and as you can see at the Masters, you had three of the four up at the top were LIV players.”

A rebuilt, renewed and refocused Brooks Koepka served notice that he’s back among the major players in the game.

Koepka was unable to hang on to the 54-hole lead at Augusta, losing by four shots to Jon Rahm. Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed also finished inside the top four at the year’s first major. In all, 12 of the 18 LIV players in the Masters field made the cut. 

Reflecting on the missed opportunity to claim his fifth major, Koepka said: “I just kind of relaxed and tried to think about why it happened, why I played bad on Sunday. I’m always pretty honest with myself, and normally it goes on what I was thinking, what I was doing. It was nice to get to the bottom of it.

“You tell anybody you’re going to finish second in a major, especially where I was six months ago, a year ago, I would have taken that, so it’s tough to really argue with it. Then reality, expectations and all that stuff gets thrown in there. But it was a good solid week, and I can’t really complain. Gave myself a chance to win, and that’s all you can ask for every time you tee it up.”