Brooks Koepka has insisted that no rivalry exists between the American and Rory McIlroy ahead of his defence of the CJ Cup this week in South Korea.
The world number one, who sits one place above McIlroy in second spot on the rankings, fails to see why fans would believe there’s any rivalry between the pair given the accomplishments of both players since Koepka joined the Tour.
“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 ahead of Thursday’s first round in Jeju.
McIlroy’s last Major triumph came at the PGA Championship in 2014 while Koepka was plying his trade on the European Tour.
Since 2015, the 29-year old Koepka, one year McIlroy’s junior, has bridged the gap with the Holywood star with the pair both now sitting on four Majors apiece.
Yet, despite given McIlroy’s obvious threat, the Northern Irishman’s looming presence at number two in the world is doing little to bother the ever-confident top dog in golf.
“I’m not looking at anybody behind me,” insisted Koepka.
“I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me. I’m not looking in the rear-view mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry.”
“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.”
Whether Koepka sees it or not, the prospect of a rivalry building between the top two forces in golf is mouth-watering ahead of what you would hope is a decade-long battle between both players at their respective peaks.
There’s no doubt that golf has lacked rivalry in recent years. While Tiger was going through his injury problems, top spot on the rankings seemed to interchange between friends monthly and Major championships were shared rather than dominated.
Koepka has never been one to mince his words and golf will be all the better for it, but perhaps the American’s latest soundbite is in response to Rory McIlroy who said sternly after Koepka suggested he was going to become the dominant player in the game – that, “he’s going to have to go through me first”.
“If that’s both of our mentalities going forward, I think that’s good for the game,” McIlroy said.
We tend to agree.