NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka said Tuesday that he only agreed to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series after playing at the US Open two weeks ago.
Koepka said at a news conference ahead of the first LIV golf tournament in the United States, which begins Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Oregon, he wanted more time to physically recover by attending fewer events.
Koepka had previously sworn allegiance to the PGA Tour. He said in February that “someone will sell out and try” when asked about the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Circuit. Earlier this month, Koepka slammed reporters for asking him questions about LIV Golf, accusing them of casting a “black cloud” over the US Open.
“Just my opinion, man,” Koepka said Tuesday when asked what made him change his mind. “My mind changed. It was. You guys will never believe me but we didn’t have the conversation until it was all done at the US Open and figured it out and just said I’m going one way or the other will. Here I am.”
Koepka, 32, has been plagued by knee, hip and wrist injuries in recent months. The former world number 1 is now 19th in the official golf world rankings.
“What I’ve been through on my knees for the last two years, the pain, the rehab, all those things, you know, I need a little more downtime,” Koepka said. “I’ll be the first to say it: it hasn’t been easy the last few years and I think I need a little more breaks, a little more time at home to make sure I’m 100 per cent fit before.” I’m playing an event and I don’t feel compelled to play right away [is good].”
Koepka didn’t have much to say about Rory McIlroy’s criticism of him and other players who have joined LIV Golf, having previously said they would not. McIlroy called her “double-tongued” last week.
“Look, I have respect for Rory as a player,” Koepka said. “He is good. He is phenomenal. I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t see it. I only heard about it a day ago. So, look, he’s entitled to his opinion. He can think anything he wants. He will do what is best for himself and his family; I will do what is best for me and my family; and I can’t hate anyone for it.”
While Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau said they didn’t resign from the PGA Tour, Patrick Reed said he did. Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, said he hopes he’ll be allowed to continue competing in major championships.
“We don’t really know where they all stand, of course,” Reed said. “As a former champion at Augusta and with a green jacket, I would think I could play there for the rest of my life. I mean, at the end of the day it will be up to them.”
Koepka added of the Majors: “You play anywhere in the world, you’re going to be fine. You will get inside her. I have made a decision. I’m happy with it, and whatever comes out of it, I’ll live with it.”
When asked if LIV golfers were being criticized for helping the Saudis whitewash their history of human rights abuses, Koepka said people are “allowed to have their say.”
“You know, we heard it,” Koepka said. “I think everyone has it. It’s been brought up. But you see, like we said, our only job is to play golf and that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re trying to expand the game, all of that too do other things. And we try our best.”
DeChambeau, who reportedly received more than $100 million for signing with LIV Golf, said he hopes to use some of the money to fund youth golf and charities. When asked if he was concerned about the source of the money, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, DeChambeau said he respected the decisions and comments of others.
The Saudis have been accused by human rights organizations of torture, murder, kidnapping and ill-treatment of women and other groups. According to US intelligence, the Saudi royal family was also implicated in the 2018 kidnapping and murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Golf is a force for good, and I think that over time, hopefully, people will see the good that they are doing and what they are trying to achieve, rather than looking at the bad that happened before,” DeChambeau said . “I think it’s important to get away from that and to stay in a positive light and keep moving forward is something that could be a positive force for the future of the game.”
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34163399/brooks-koepka-says-physical-recovery-changed-opinion-led-liv-golf-move Brooks Koepka says more time for physical recovery, changed opinion led to LIV Golf move