By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
Brooks Koepka likes to brag about his honesty. He is as proud of being audacious and direct as he is of his remarkable record in the major championships.
He does not hesitate to criticize if he considers it justified. Koepka once accused Patrick Reed of cheating by “building sand castles” in a waste area in the Bahamas. He left no doubt about his feelings for Bryson DeChambeau, a long list.
“I’m always going to speak my mind and tell you what I think, and I think everyone in this room knows that,” he said during a 2020 PGA Championship preview day.
And now he has a chance to come clean about his decision to go back on his word and join the Saudi-funded rebel league known as LIV Golf.
It’s a question of money. It’s so simple.
This is not a “force for good,” the message Greg Norman tried to preach and too many of his puppets have repeated. The 22 former or soon-to-be suspended PGA Tour members in Oregon for the LIV Golf Invitational aren’t here for the innovative format, or to compete against the best, or even to win tournaments.
They are paid an obscene sum of money.
Koepka was the last example that everyone has a price. He said it himself four months ago during the Honda Classic.
This was a week after Phil Mickelson went into hiding after his inflammatory remarks about the Saudis and the PGA Tour, after Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau said they were sticking with the PGA Tour, after Rory McIlroy said the “dead in the water” rebel league. ”
“I think there will still be discussions.” said Koepka. “Everybody talks about money. They’ve had enough. I don’t see him backing down. They can just double down and they’ll understand. They will have their guys. Someone will sell and go.
And that someone turned out to be him.
Mickelson showed his hand months ago in a few interviews when he accused the PGA Tour of ‘abhorrent greed’ and said he and a few other top players hired lawyers to draft the operating agreement of the new league. Joining LIV Golf was no surprise.
Johnson was the biggest fish the shark landed. The temptation had been strong all along, and then he had received an offer he couldn’t ignore. The Daily Telegraph reported his signing fee was $150 million. That’s twice Johnson’s career earnings after 15 years on the tour.
In some ways, Koepka went back on his word twice.
He was the second player, behind McIlroy, to speak out against the ‘Premier Golf League’ concept which had Saudi funding and promised great wealth, a team format, limited pitches – all of which Norman has now delivered.
“I find it hard to believe golf should only have 48 players,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press, just before golf was put on hiatus for three months due to the pandemic. of COVID-19. “Money is not going to change my life,” he said. “There is something to be said for the freedom to play. I can choose. For me, it’s not worth it. I’m happy with the way things are going.”
That was over two years ago.
And then Koepka said in Phoenix this year: “It’s been pretty clear for a long time now that I’m with the PGA Tour, that’s where I’m staying. I’m very happy. I think they’re doing things the good manners, people I want to do business with.
But that’s not what led McIlroy to say Koepka was “duplicity” in saying one thing and doing another.
McIlroy was not part of the Rolex gathering at the US Open, but he heard about it. The list of stars that day included Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and Koepka. They talked about being on the same page in favor of the PGA Tour and speaking with one voice against the Saudi-funded league.
Koepka would have led the charge. And then he wasn’t.
“I was at a function with him last week and that was definitely not what he had in mind,” Scheffler told the Travelers Championship last week. “We’ve been focused on building the PGA Tour and getting the guys who stay here together and just having discussions and figuring out how we can help benefit the tour.”
Scheffler was quick to add that he wasn’t going to criticize Koepka or anyone else for walking away with guaranteed money. Scheffler topped $13 million this season, already a PGA Tour record, thanks to an incredible run.
Players who wouldn’t be recognized in a restaurant outside of their hometown get more than that by signing up for LIV Golf. It’s up to them to reconcile the source of the money and whether they take the easy way out, as McIlroy suggested.
Golf is always difficult. It’s the money that’s easy. There’s nothing wrong with saying that.
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