World number one Brooks Koepka has dismissed the idea he has a rivalry with Rory McIlroy — by reminding the world that McIlroy hasn’t won a major in five years.
The American’s provocative put-down was firesaid in the build-up to this week’s CJ Cup, where Koepka is the defending champion.
Since he joined the PGA Tour in 2015, Koepka has won four majors, equalling McIlroy’s tally, and now sits just above McIlroy in the world rankings.
Both players won three times on the PGA Tour last season and McIlroy referenced their rivalry ahead of the Tour Championship at East Lake in August.
“He (Koepka) talked about trying to be the dominant player in the game … and I thought: ‘He’s going to have to go through me first’. If that’s both of our mentalities going forward, I think that’s good for the game,” said McIlroy.
But yesterday Koepka played down the idea.
“I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry,” Koepka told AFP.
I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rear-view mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry.
“You know, if the fans do [call it a rivalry], then that’s on them and it could be fun.
“Look, I love Rory, he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”
Koepka revealed at the start of the month that he underwent stem cell treatment on his left knee shortly after the Tour Championship and the 29-year-old could undergo more during the off-season.
“My knee’s fine, it feels good,” he added. “It bugged me since March maybe, but everything’s fine now. Did my rehab, my recovery and there shouldn’t be any issues.
“Hopefully there might be one more round of stem cells, maybe before the end of the year during some off time. But other than that, I feel great.
“My knee feels good. It’s the first time it’s been feeling consistently good in a while.”