It was Rory McIlroy at his politically correct best. Answering questions ahead of this week’s inaugural ZOZO Championship in Japan, the World No. 2 was asked to respond to comments made by World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, who stirred the rivalry pot ahead of his defence of the CJ Cup stating:
“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.”
McIlroy is smart enough to know what was coming in returning to competition this week in Japan and if he was upset or annoyed with Koepka for his comments, then the fellow four-time Major winner did a great job of hiding any ill-feelings.
“I think it’s hard,” McIlroy said.
“We all get asked about it in press conferences, about other players where it’s ‘Why are these guys asking me about someone else? Aren’t we supposed to be here to talk about me?’ And what Brooks said wasn’t wrong. He’s been the best player for a couple years, four majors.”
McIlroy then broke out in a smile when finishing off his remarks by saying: “I don’t think he had to remind me I hadn’t won one in a while, but you know.”
Of course, it was McIlroy who drew attention to any form of rivalry with Koepka after being voted by his peers as the ‘2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year’.
And McIlroy also addressed those remarks.
“I said a couple of things after the Tour Championship in terms of I approached that final round like a little bit of a rivalry because he got one over on me at Memphis and I sort of wanted to get him back,” said McIlroy.
“I think that’s good for the game.”
McIlroy made it clear by reiterating he and Koepka have no issues with one another:
“I think if you take what Brooks said out of context, then obviously it can be this big thing that it had become,” McIlroy said.
“But Brooks and I are good. We’re good friends. I’ve been really happy for him to see how good he’s played the last couple of years. And I’m sure he’ll continue to do so just like we’re all trying to play as good as we can.”