Sunday, June 26, 2022

Rory McIlroy calls Brooks Koepka ‘duplicate’ and shows PGA Tour how to respond to LIV Golf

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McIlroy meets his former colleague as the Saudi breakaway series celebrates another PR win over a PGA Tour that was too slow, defensive and reactionary, writes Kevin Garside

Monahan claimed not to know about Koepka’s intentions when asked about the possibility of his move early in his presentation, despite only speaking to the player on Monday. When his move was confirmed to him, he only expressed disappointment.

LIV Golf announced Brooks Koepka as their latest signing five minutes after a press conference hosted by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. Coincidence, provocation or affront? Probably not the former.

The candid comment came from Rory McIlroy, who has positioned himself as the PGA Tour’s strongest hitter during this time of unprecedented upheaval. When asked at the Travelers Championship what he thought of Koepka’s jump, he said: “Am I surprised? Yes, because of what he said earlier.

“I think that’s why I’m surprised by a lot of these guys. You say one thing and then do the other. I do not understand that. I don’t know if that’s for legal reasons or if they can’t. But it’s pretty duplicitous on their part to say one thing and then do the other.”

Monahan revealed the PGA Tour’s response to the LIV Golf threat by throwing more money at its members via a reorganized schedule that will track eight no-cut, low-field events in Fall 2023 with increased prize pools which will include Fed Ex The cup playoffs ended in September.

This was Monahan’s big moment, a chance to reaffirm the PGA Tour’s supremacy and regain the initiative. Still, it felt defensive, reactionary, and fragile. He claimed restructuring the schedule into two parts from January to September, moving on to the fall series from October to December is always in the pipeline. Forgoing clearly defined dates for the 2023 calendar now speaks for a defensive and whistle in the cemetery.

“The announcement we made today is the PGA Tour’s commitment to becoming the greatest on the planet,” said Monahan. “We’re looking at the new schedule in the fall, the new alliance with DP World Tour and the investments we will be making. We will continue to innovate and evolve. The product you see will continue to get stronger. It’s not just about the best competing against each other, but the impact we have on life through the charities that benefit every community we play in. We have an incredible group of young, international athletes. We will use this moment to expand the game.”

Monahan reiterated the Tour’s stance on defectors, which is that for them there is no going back. If that sounds like a door closing after the horse bolts, you’re right. It ignores the fact that players have chosen to go to the riches even beyond the pockets of its leading brand. Consequences, dammit. Just look at the account balance.

Koepka said nothing official about LIV Golf’s triumphant statement. Tour CEO Greg Norman filled the room with his standard propaganda. “The addition of Brooks is another example of the incredible fields that LIV Golf is putting together as we gain momentum in our first season and look to the future.”

The Open Championship made it clear that LIV Golf members who qualify will be welcomed to St Andrews in two weeks for the final Major of the season. The inclusion of LIV Golf in the ranking system is yet to be determined. The Open simply honors the points earned before the war broke out.

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