Since the Tour Championship at East Lake, there’s been a storyline emerging that there’s a developing rivalry between Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
Koepka, blunt as always, made it clear he doesn’t see it that way.
The World No. 1 shut down the rivalry talk Wednesday while in South Korea for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, which begins Thursday, Wednesday night in the United States, claiming any talk of a rivalry between the two is inconsequential because McIlroy hasn’t won a major in over five years.
“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 just don’t view it as a rivalry,” Koepka said, according to the American Foreign Press. “I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m No. 1 in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry.
“You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that’s on them and it could be fun. Look I love Rory he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”
Koepka, 29, finished last season with three wins, including last year’s CJ Cup, and nine top-10 finishes. He won his fourth major since turning pro in 2012 at the PGA Championship in May.
In 2019, Koepka also placed second at the Honda Classic and U.S. Open, T-2 at the Masters and T-3 with Justin Thomas at the Tour Championship behind currently World No. 2 McIlroy and Xander Schauffele.
McIlroy, who finished last season winning the Tour Championship and joining Tiger Woods as the only two players to win two FedEx Cups, hasn’t won a major since the 2014 season when he won the PGA Championship and the British Open within five weeks of each other.
Along with his wins at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship, McIlroy matches Koepka with four major wins. McIlroy also topped Koepka in last season’s PGA Tour’s Player of the Year balloting.
McIlroy, 30, has not publicly responded to Koepka’s claim that McIlroy accomplishments aren’t worthy to be considered a rival, but in September, McIlroy said he thought the rivalry between himself and Koepka was good for golf.
“Brooks has been undoubtedly the best player in the world for the last couple years. I’ve been lucky that my career and my consistency level has been good for the last 10,” McIlroy said. “I feel like they’ve tried to create a rivalry between myself and Tiger, myself and Jordan (Spieth), myself and Dustin (Johnson), myself and Brooks, myself and Jason Day.
“It’s nice there’s a common denominator and it’s usually me, which means that I’m doing something right.”