Prior to playing badly and finishing 55th in last week’s U.S. Open at The Country Club outside Boston, Brooks Koepka complained about the “black cloud” hanging over the event that he said was being caused by reporters asking members of the PGA Tour about some of their former peers defecting to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
“I’m trying to focus on the U.S. Open, man,” Koepka said. “I legitimately don’t get it. I’m tired of the conversations. I’m tired of all this stuff. Like I said, y’all are throwing a black cloud on the U.S. Open. I think that sucks.”
Koepka, a four-time major champion who has fared poorly at the three majors he has played this season, apparently felt the situation for Tour players was sucky enough that he has decided to leave their ranks and join other big-name golfers such as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia on the LIV circuit. The news, which is expected to be announced by the Greg Norman-fronted tour in the next few days, was first reported by The Telegraph.
The 17 ex-PGA players who competed in the first event for the new circuit, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, were suspended by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Koepka will presumably join their ranks. That won’t prevent Koepka, Johnson, Mickelson, Garcia or other big names like Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, from competing in all four major tournaments moving forward because they’re not hosted by the PGA Tour itself.
However, based on how the 17 LIV defectors fared at The Country Club, how Koepka will fare at future majors is up for debate. Of the 17 LIV Golf Series players who took the course at the U.S. Open, only four made the cut and only one finished in the top 25 at the event (Johnson tied for 24th at +4).
For Koepka, who has made almost $40 million in career earnings on the PGA tour and has a number of lucrative endorsement deals (for now), the move could mark the beginning of the end of his time as one of the top golfers in the world. The No. 1 player in the world for 47 weeks, the 32-year-old has been bothered by back, hip and wrist injuries in recent months and has just two top-10 finishes in his last 15 starts. While that sort of record has hurt Koepka’s PGA Tour earnings, it won’t affect his wallet on the Saudi tour as he will almost certainly be paid an eight-digit figure just to show up and compete. He also can’t miss the cut because LIV Golf doesn’t have one.
Abe Ancer, who is ranked 20th in the world and withdrew from the U.S. Open citing an illness, is also expected to be announced as an LIV participant this week, which was reported by ESPN Desportes. Ancer, 31, is a dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S. who played at Oklahoma.
LIV Golf’s first event in the United States is set to start on June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon.