McIlroy grouped with Koepka for two days in L.A. What, if anything, will they talk about?

Fatiha Betscher

Brooks Koepka waits alongside his caddie Ricky Elliott on the first fairway during a practice round of the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

The last time Rory McIlroy saw Brooks Koepka, McIlroy was making his way towards the front gates of last month’s PGA Championship host venue as the American was heading to the scorer’s hut as the new champion.

McIlroy, like the true champion he is, stopped to warmly embrace Koepka, congratulating him on capturing a third Rodman Wanamaker trophy, and his fifth major.

Koepka’s triumph in upstate New York was an historic first for LIV Golf while McIlroy’s share of seventh was an 18th top-10 showing in 32 majors since capturing the 2014 PGA Championship in near darkness at Louisville, Kentucky.


However, the PGA of America have seemingly ignored McIlroy’s near single-handed feud with LIV Golf and put Koepka, who is McIlroy’s fellow Bears Club resident, in the same group for the opening two rounds on the host L.A. Country Club course.

Joining the 9.54pm (Irish time) tee-off on Thursday is Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.

While Matsuyama speaks relatively good English, he does use an interpreter when speaking in public to TV and non-Japanese media, so unlike last week’s Canadian Open when McIlroy and Justin Rose were grouped, and observed talking their heads off, it could be an ‘icy’ two day affair for both McIlroy and Koepka.

Though they won’t be the only group to watch at the U.S. Open, which features a handful of tempting trios.

Next among them is the group of World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the 2022 Masters winner, double major winning Collin Morikawa and Los Angeles-area native Max Homa, now World No. 7.

The latter is searching for his first major title, while Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open Championship. They will tee off at 7.13pm (Irish time).

Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm is paired in a high-profile group with Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland. The three players, all ranked in the top six in the world, will tee off at 7.24pm (Irish time) also in the opening round.

Phil Mickelson, who also jumped to the LIV circuit, is making another attempt to capture the U.S. Open, still the only major title that has eluded the now 52-year-old.  He is set to tee off at 11.59 pm (Irish time) alongside reigning US Senior Open winner Padraig Harrington and Keegan Bradley.

Harrington is contesting his 17th US Open but a first since 2013, with his best showing being T4th a year earlier in 2012.

Defending U.S. Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick is paired with Aussie Cameron Smith, the reigning Open champion, who signed with LIV shortly after winning last July at St. Andrews.

And in another notable group, three-time major winner Jordan Spieth is joined by two players seeking their first major titles — Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay.

The U.S. Open is returning to Los Angeles for the first time since 1948, when Ben Hogan won at Riviera Country Club, some six miles to the west of the L.A Country Club.

IRISH TEE TIMES – ROUND 1, 2023 US OPEN (Irish time)

3.40pm – Shane Lowry

4.35pm – Matthew McClean & Seamus Power

9.59pm – Padraig Harrington

9.54pm – Rory McIlroy.

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