Koepka cites injuries, family for LIV deal

Staff WritersAP
American Brooks Koepka, a four-time major winner, will make his LIV Golf debut in Portland.
Camera IconAmerican Brooks Koepka, a four-time major winner, will make his LIV Golf debut in Portland. Credit: AP

Four months after suggesting those who defected to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series were sellouts, Brooks Koepka explained on Tuesday that he simply changed his mind.

Koepka signed with LIV Golf last week for its first event on American soil, which starts on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge west of Portland.

It was a stunning reversal for the four-time major champion, who was once an outspoken critic of the fledgling series that seeks to challenge the PGA Tour.

"Opinions change. I feel very comfortable with the decision I made. I'm happy, and did what's best for me," Koepka said.

In February, Koepka said of LIV Golf: "They'll get their guys. Somebody will sell out and go to it."

Former world No.1 and fellow four-time major winner Rory McIlroy suggested last week that Koepka and others were duplicitous "to say one thing and then do another thing."

"Look, he's entitled to his opinion. He can think whatever he wants," Koepka responded.

"He's going to do what's best for him and his family, I'm going to do what's best for me and my family. Can't hate on anybody for that, and like I said, opinions change, man."

Koepka cited a knee injury that has taken a toll on his body and the desire to spend more time with his family as factors in his decision. He did not mention the multimillion-dollar signing bonuses LIV Golf -- which is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund -- has handed to players. Koepka is one of the biggest names, along with Dustin Johnson and six-time major champion Phil Mickelson.

Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural event outside London and took home $4.75 million ($A6.88m). LIV tournaments are played over 54 holes with no cut, and even the last-place finisher gets paid.

The PGA Tour has sought to fight off the threat posed by LIV Golf by disciplining players. The tour suspended every active member who competed in the first LIV event. Those who play in Oregon will also be suspended unless they resign their tour memberships.

Three-time PGA Tour winner Pat Perez, who also spoke against LIV Golf before changing his mind, said the PGA Tour's tactics have backfired.

"You want to be able to play anywhere you want. And you should be able to play wherever you want," Perez said.

"The (PGA) Tour has tried to strong-arm us all year and come with bans and suspensions and all that, and how'd that work? Look how many guys are here. That didn't work at all."

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