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Brooks Koepka pick says plenty about LIV Golf rivalry

Brooks Koepka

In a normal Ryder Cup year, Brooks Koepka’s place on the U.S. team would be anything but controversial.

Koepka won the PGA Championship, conducted by the same PGA of America that runs the Ryder Cup on the U.S. side. And even though he missed out on one of the top six automatic berths in points, Koepka finished a strong seventh on the points list.

This, of course, is anything but a normal year for the Ryder Cup or for men’s professional golf. Koepka’s participation on the LIV tour means there are those who believe he shouldn’t be allowed a captain’s pick onto the U.S. team that will face Europe in Italy next month. There are others who are adamant that Koepka absolutely deserves a berth on the U.S. team.

That difference of opinion shows that after two years of rhetoric and finger-pointing and more than a year since the LIV tour debuted as a rival to the PGA Tour, emotions and opinions remain divided and even polarized.

It also shows that whatever olive branch extended between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, the money behind the LIV tour, hasn’t exactly soothed some very hard feelings among players and fans. The June announcement of a partnership framework between the PIF and the PGA Tour has yet to produce many hard and firm details about what the PGA Tour might look like in 2024. In fact, there is still talk the partnership will not actually come to fruition.

Brooks Koepka tees off at the 1st during a Ryder Cup practice round at Le Golf National. (Photo: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Polarized feelings

Somehow, caught in the middle of this are Koepka and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson. Koepka has played just four points-gathering events for the Ryder Cup this year, the four major championships. But a win at the PGA Championship and a tie for second at the Masters garnered Koepka enough points to be in the top six in points for the team. That is until last Sunday at the BMW Championship, when the right players finished just high enough on the leaderboard to push Koepka down to seventh and out of an automatic bid. Koepka, of course, didn’t play in the BMW event and isn’t in the Tour Championship this week.

Had Koepka stayed in the top six, he would have been on the team, no questions asked. Instead, he now requires a captain’s pick from Johnson, who no doubt has thought long and hard about the idea of an LIV player on the U.S. team.

A friend called this week, thinking the captain’s picks had been…


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