LIV Golf’s warm Masters reception and Sunday stumble

Brooks Koepka had a dream start and nightmare finish earlier this month at the Masters, and two weeks later, he’s still dealing with the weekend fallout that saw him finish four shots behind Jon Rahm.

LIV Golf is back in action this week in Adelaide, South Australia, for its fourth event of the season, and the four-time major champion dished on his disappointing performance down the stretch at Augusta National.

“You just kind of take some time and digest it all. Did a good job of that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and just kind of relaxed and tried to think about why it happened, why I played bad on Sunday,” Koepka said to the media Wednesday at the Grange Golf Club. “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.”

Koepka held a two-shot lead entering the final round, but a 3-over 75 Sunday afternoon sealed the deal for his runner-up finish alongside fellow LIV player Phil Mickelson.

“Look, you tell anybody you’re going to finish second in a major, especially where I was six months ago, a year ago, I’m not sure there, so I would have taken that, so it’s tough to really argue with it,” he continued. “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.”

The Netflix docuseries “Full Swing” depicted Koepka as a player lost in the woods and unsure of his ability to play against the game’s best. He even admitted during last year’s Masters he wasn’t sure whether he could hang with the likes of former world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler “week in and week out.” But the 32-year-old has slowly but surely found his competitive edge once again on the upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and financially supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Koepka is the league’s only two-time winner over its 11 events after his victory at LIV Golf Orlando a week before the close call at Augusta.

The Masters wasn’t just a time for Koepka to show the sports world that his alpha male, kick-your-ass-at-all-costs mentality was still alive and well (ironically enough for just 54 holes this time around). His fellow LIV Golf captains Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau saw it as a time to show the divide between LIV and the PGA Tour may not be as wide as some fans may think.

“I think it was the best thing for the fans to see what happened at the Masters,” said Koepka. “We kind of experience it all behind closed doors, and I know when I’m home, I can’t speak for Bryson, but when me and DJ are home, we see (Rory McIlroy) there at (Grove XXIII) … (Keegan Bradley), Matt Fitzpatrick. Patrick Cantlay lives on the same street; (Rickie Fowler) does, as well. I could run into 15 Tour guys if I wanted to in a day, and nobody has really had any negative feedback, any negative thing to say, and that would be the time to say it.

“But I think it was good just 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.”

“Obviously where we live, I think half the golf world lives in South Florida. I see all the guys all the time,” added Johnson, captain of last year’s champion 4 Aces. “It was nice to see at Augusta, see a few of the guys that you don’t see in Jupiter or out here on LIV, a couple buddies I got to see and hang out with.”

Johnson claimed to have heard a lot of “Go Aces” yells from the gallery and chalked up the warm reception to the respect patrons have for Augusta National and the Masters.

“It’s more about the golf than what Tour you play on,” DJ explained. “I think that’s how it should be all the time.”