GOLF

Brooks Koepka says it’s time to recover physically, change of opinion led to LIV Golf move

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NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka said Tuesday he only agreed to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series after playing at the US Open two weeks ago.

Koepka – speaking at a press conference ahead of the first LIV golf tournament in the United States, which begins Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Oregon – said he wanted more time to recover physically by attending fewer events.

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Koepka previously pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour. He said in February that “someone is going to sell and go for it” when asked about the Saudi-funded LIV Golf circuit. Earlier this month, Koepka slammed reporters for asking him about LIV Golf, accusing them of casting a “dark cloud” over the US Open.

“It’s just my opinion, man,” Koepka said on Tuesday, when asked what made him change his mind. “My opinion changed. That was it. You’ll never believe me, but we didn’t have the conversation until it was all done at the US Open and we understood and just said I was going to go one way or another. I’m here.”

Koepka, 32, has been hampered by knee, hip and wrist injuries in recent months. The former world No. 1 is now 19th in the official world golf rankings.

“What I’ve had to go through for the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all that stuff, you realize, you know, I need a little more time off,” Koepka said. “I’ll be the first to say it: it hasn’t been easy the last couple of years, and I think I have a little more breaks, a little more time at home to make sure I’m 100% before to go play in an event and I don’t feel obligated to play right away [is good].”

Koepka didn’t have much to say about Rory McIlroy’s criticism of him and other players who joined LIV Golf after previously saying they wouldn’t. McIlroy last week called them “cheating.”

“Look, I have respect for Rory as a player,” Koepka said. “He’s good. He’s phenomenal. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t seen him. I only heard about him about a day ago. So listen, he’s entitled to his opinion He can think anything he wants He’s gonna do what’s best for him and his family I’m gonna do what’s best for me and my family And I can’t hate anyone for it.

While Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau said they did not resign from the PGA Tour, Patrick Reed said he did. Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, said he hoped he would still be allowed to compete in major championships.

“We don’t really know where they all are, obviously,” Reed said. “Being a former champion in Augusta and having a green jacket, I think I could play there for the rest of my life. I mean, ultimately it’s up to them.”

Koepka added of the majors: “You play anywhere in the world, you’ll be fine. You’ll get in there. I’ve made a decision. I’m happy with it, and no matter what, I’ll live with it. that.”

When Koepka was asked about LIV Golf players being criticized for helping the Saudis to sport clean up their history of human rights abuses, he said people were “allowed to have their opinion”.

“You know, we heard it,” Koepka said. “I think everyone has. It’s been brought up. But, look, like we said, our only job is to go play golf, and that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re trying to develop the game, do all that other stuff, and we’re trying the best we can.

DeChambeau, who reportedly received more than $100 million to sign 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, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, DeChambeau said he respects the decisions and comments of others.

The Saudis have been accused of torture, murder, kidnapping and mistreatment of women and other groups by human rights organizations. The Saudi royal family was also implicated in the kidnapping and murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to US intelligence.

“Golf is a force for good, and I think over time I hope people will see the good that they are doing and what they are trying to achieve rather than looking at the evil that is happening. is produced before,” DeChambeau said. “I think it’s important to move on, and moving forward and continuing to move forward in a positive light is something that could be a positive force for the future of the game.”

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