What was behind Brooks Koepka’s choice to depart the PGA Tour for LIV?

In 2019, the week Brooks Koepka would lead wire-to-wire on the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black and seize a fourth main title in 23 months, he broke down why he believes he’d turn out to be probably the most dominant participant on golf’s largest levels.

“(There are) 156 within the subject,” he mentioned, “so you work at the very least 80 of them I am simply going to beat. From there you work about half of them will not play effectively. So that you’re right down to about perhaps 35. After which from 35, a few of them simply … strain goes to get to them. It solely leaves you with just a few extra, and you’ve got simply acquired to beat these guys. “

Koepka, the Palm Seashore County native and Jupiter resident, just lately has turn out to be a type of guys others imagine, ‘I am simply going to beat.’ A non-factor on this yr’s majors and infrequently in rivalry within the final yr, Koepka, whether or not due to accidents, the distraction of planning a marriage or perhaps simply being previous his peak, is leaving the PGA Tour to affix Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Sequence.

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May 17, 2022;  Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA;  Brooks Koepka during his press conference for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club.  Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Might 17, 2022; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA; Brooks Koepka throughout his press convention for the PGA Championship golf match at Southern Hills Nation Membership. Obligatory Credit score: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports activities

The announcement got here Wednesday, after Koepka withdrew from the Vacationers Championship late Tuesday.

Koepka, at 32, is a giant get for the Saudi-backed collection looking for credibility and a focus, one whose occasions are proven on YouTube as a result of it doesn’t have a tv deal. LIV’s first occasion two weeks in the past in London featured simply two golfers who transfer the needle, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Add Bryson DeChambeau and Koepka for subsequent week’s occasion at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Membership outdoors of Portland, Oregon, and now it has 4.

However none of that issues to the 20 or so gamers who’ve defected from the PGA Tour and others who’re struggling to search out their footing on the planet {of professional} golf.

All that issues are the checks hitting their accounts. Everybody from Palm Seashore Gardens’ Charl Schwartzel, who gained $ 4.75 million for successful the person title and being part of the successful crew in London; to Andy Ogletree, who took dwelling $ 120,000 in prize cash for capturing 24-over and ending final within the 48-man-field, is in LIV for one cause.

In 20 years as a professional, Schwartzel by no means gained $ 3 million in a yr, together with 2011 when he gained the Masters. Ogeltree’s profession earnings in 4 years of enjoying tour occasions is $ 38,186.

Koepka’s choice definitely has to do with including to that $ 38 million he is earned in prize cash, plus tens of millions extra off the course, in his profession. It additionally offers us a peek into the thoughts of a golfer that at one time was thought-about amongst golf’s royalty, held the No. 1 rating on the planet for 47 weeks and was as feared as anybody not named Tiger Woods in latest historical past in relation to the majors.

Now, Koepka has completed one thing utterly reverse of what he had turn out to be identified for on golf’s largest levels – a steely, laser-like centered, ultra-competitive champion.

He has run from the competitors.

Accidents definitely have performed a consider his struggles, however he is been coping with these – whether or not it’s his wrist, knee, hip – for a number of years now. Maybe Koepka simply can not deal with his physique not permitting him to be a constant risk on the PGA Tour.

Or maybe he is seen a gaggle of proficient gamers of their twenties – all about 5 years youthful than Koepka – making their mark within the sport. Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris all have zoomed previous Koepka on the planet rankings.

What occurred to the Brooks Koepka who mentioned simply 4 months in the past it was “embarrassing” to be ranked No. 20 on the planet? At the moment he’s No. 19.

May 20, 2022;  Tulsa, OK, USA;  Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the 10th tee during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club.  Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Might 20, 2022; Tulsa, OK, USA; Brooks Koepka performs his shot from the tenth tee through the second spherical of the PGA Championship golf match at Southern Hills Nation Membership. Obligatory Credit score: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports activities

The outdated Brooks Koepka would have taken on that problem, pulled out the disrespect card he used so effectively throughout his run of 4 main championships in eight begins, and re-established his standing among the many greatest on the planet.

Now, Koepka is taking the simple cash ⁠— he probably is receiving within the neighborhood of $ 100 million to affix the collection ⁠— to play eight LIV occasions (the collection is hoping to develop subsequent yr) and no matter different tournaments will welcome LIV golfers.

All of this, after all, is his proper, however he’s the one who has to simply accept the backlash for becoming a member of a league backed by Saudi cash. And figuring out Koepka as many people do, he definitely doesn’t care concerning the blowback.

However Koepka now not shall be enjoying towards the perfect on the planet, with the attainable exception of some majors annually, and even that could be taken away. That, too, he has to simply accept.

This a lot is definite, Koepka wouldn’t have taken this path two or three years in the past when there was a mystique to his recreation.

And nobody outdoors of Mickelson has dealt with this choice worse than Koepka. He’ll ceaselessly be remembered for calling out Mickelson for his “greed” remark, saying LIV would get their guys as a result of “anyone will promote out and go to it,” and insisting cash does not matter and “I simply need to play towards the perfect. “

On Wednesday, Rory McIlroy, who has been as vocal as anybody in his loyalty to the PGA Tour, mentioned he was stunned with Koepka’s choice, name it “duplicitous” due to “what he mentioned beforehand.”

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However now he’s unable to play PGA Tour occasions, together with his hometown Honda Traditional, which, to Koepka’s credit score, was on his schedule yearly. The very best golfer ever born and bred in Palm Seashore County is leaving the perfect, best league in his sport. Certain, his 4 majors have been historic, one thing he shall be ⁠— and ought to be ⁠— pleased with the remainder of his life.

These trophies nonetheless shine sitting on Koepka’s bookshelves. It is his popularity that has been tarnished.

Tom D’Angelo is a journalist on the Palm Seashore Submit. You may attain him at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

This text initially appeared on Palm Seashore Submit: Brooks Koepka operating from golf’s high competitors for LIV cash

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