Rory McIlroy hits out at Brooks Koepka ‘mind games’ at US PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy — Rory McIlroy hits out at Brooks Koepka ‘mind games’ at US PGA Championship - GETTY IMAGESM

توسط PATRIS-MUSIC در 20 مرداد 1399
Rory McIlroy — Rory McIlroy hits out at Brooks Koepka ‘mind games’ at US PGA Championship - GETTY IMAGES

Major or no major, Rory McIlroy believes there is a line you do not cross, regardless of your ambition in any given week. The Northern Irishman re-emphasised his belief on Sunday night by calling out Brooks Koepka for disrespectful “mind games” against Dustin Johnson ­before the final round of the 102nd USPGA Championship.

Koepka was on the first hole at Harding Park and trying to become the first player to win three strokeplay Wanamaker Trophies when McIlroy made his comments. After his 68 to close on two under, McIlroy was asked what he thought about Koepka’s sideswipe at his ­Ryder Cup team-mate the previous evening, saying that “he’s only won one”. Koepka also implied that Johnson had found the second ­major the hardest to win.

“I was watching the golf last night and heard the [Koepka] interview and was just sort of taken aback a little bit by what he said and whether he was trying to play mind games or not – if he’s trying to play mind games, he’s trying to do it to the wrong person,” McIlroy said.

“It’s a very different mentality to bring to golf that I don’t think a lot of golfers have. Just different. I try to respect everyone out here. Everyone is a great player. If you’ve won a major, you’re a hell of a player.”

Then McIlroy delivered his own biting barb towards Koepka. “It’s sort of hard to knock a guy that’s got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times as many as Brooks,” McIlroy said.

Koepka has a burgeoning reputation as an elite golfer willing to put down his peers. Apart from his many jibes at Bryson DeChambeau, Koepka was dismissive last year when asked if he felt there was a ­rivalry between him and McIlroy.

“I’ve been out here for, what, five years – Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour,” Koepka said. ”So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”

McIlroy shrugged it off at the time, but was known privately to be unimpressed. In some ways McIlroy’s attitude towards Koepka’s ­irreverence is curious seeing as he, himself, declared that the European golfers such as Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari were wrong to skip the early PGA Tour restart events following lockdown and stated they should be there “if they cared about their careers”.

Except McIlroy did not name ­anyone directly and climbed down from those comments recently. There is plainly a distaste of ­Koepka’s discourtesy.

As it was, it was another quote in McIlroy’s post-major press conference on Sunday night that will make the eyebrows rise the most in some quarters.

Monday is the six-year anniversary of the 31-year-old’s last major win – the 2014 US PGA win. He was quizzed by an Irish journalist “why you find it’s difficult to hang around for 54, 63 holes in recent seasons compared to say earlier in your career?” McIlroy replied: “Maybe I’m just not as good as I used to be. I don’t know.”

The world No 3 was being prickly and does not truly believe that.

“I feel like the golf that I’ve played in the majors has been sort of similar to the golf I’ve played outside of them, and I’ve won some big events and played well and had a good season last year,” McIlroy said. “I can’t really put my finger on it. I go out there and try my best every single day. Some days I play better than others, and I just have to keep going and keep persisting and see if you can do better the next time.”

It was a legitimate query on the reporter’s behalf. Something is plainly missing when it comes to the majors for McIlroy, seeing as he won four by the age of 25 and all too often it is slow starts and/or sloppy errors at crucial times.

This was a satisfactory end to his San Francisco quest, but a finishing time before the leaders had even teed-off obviously fell far short of what he expects.

For now, McIlroy is simply trying to rediscover the consistency that saw him chalk up seven successive PGA Tour top-fives before the coronavirus hooter sounded. In his six events since the resumption, ­McIlroy has not recorded a single top-10 finish and only one top 20.

“This was one of the tougher tests that we’ve faced since coming back, together with the Memorial a few weeks ago,” he said. “I’ve sort of gauged those two events as the barometer of where my game is, and I’m going to pretty much finish in the same spot around 30th. There’s been enough good stuff in there, I’m just making a few too many mistakes. Try to clean that up going forward.”
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