Friday 15 November 2019

McIlroy: There's no bad blood with Koepka

Rory McIlroy shakes hands with Brooks Koepka in Memphis
Rory McIlroy shakes hands with Brooks Koepka in Memphis

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy insists there is no bad blood between him and Brooks Koepka even after the American's cutting remarks about his Major drought last week.

The world No 1 dismissed talk of any rivalry between the pair at The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea, insisting: "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 don't view it as a rivalry."

Asked about Koepka's comments during the 'MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins' yesterday, where Jason Day won $210,000 (€188,000) of the $350,000 (€314,000) prize money on offer, McIlroy played down any rift.

"What Brooks said wasn't wrong," McIlroy said. "He's been the best player in the world the last couple of years, four Majors… don't think he had to remind me that I hadn't won one in a while. But I love Brooks, he's a great guy, obviously super- competitive like we all are. If you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing.

"But he and I are good friends, and I've been really happy for him to see how well he has been playing."

Koepka is determined to extend his lead at the top of the world rankings, and that's inspired McIlroy, who last held the No 1 spot in September 2015.

"I am looking forward to it (chasing him down)," McIlroy said after beating Koepka head-to-head to claim the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in Atlanta. "He is going to have to get through me first."

McIlroy is joined this week by Graeme McDowell and Open champion Shane Lowry for Japan's first PGA Tour event, the $9.75 million (€8.75m) Zozo Championship.

On the European Tour, Gavin Moynihan and Paul Dunne will be battling to avoid the Qualifying School in the Portugal Masters, where they are joined this week by Pádraig Harrington and Michael Hoey.

Irish Independent

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