‘No negativity towards LIV players at Masters’

Koepka, Johsnson, DeChambeau say golfers from both tours communicated, practiced together

AFP April 19, 2023


Major winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau said Wednesday there was no animosity towards them at the Masters earlier this month despite their defection to LIV splitting the golf world.

The Saudi-backed series began last year with several big-name PGA Tour players jumping to the upstart circuit for record US$25 million purses and 54-hole events.

The established PGA banned LIV players and a legal fight is set for the courts, but major tournaments have allowed LIV and PGA players who qualify to compete side-by-side.

That meant 18 LIV Golf players at the Masters, although LIV boss Greg Norman was not invited.

Koepka, who led after round three before stumbling in his final round, said it was good for the fans to see there was no animosity between the players who left and those who stayed.

"I think it was the best thing for the fans to see what happened at the Masters," he said in Adelaide ahead of LIV's first event in Australia this week.

Many top golfers live in close proximity in Florida, including arch LIV critic Rory McIlroy, but Koepka said there is no problem when the LIV contingent bump into their PGA counterparts.

"I could run into 15 Tour guys if I wanted to in a day and nobody has really had any negative feedback, any negative thing to say, and that would be the time to say it," said the American.

"But I think it was good just for the fans to see that we still communicate, we still play together, we still practice together, do everything the exact same. We're still the same people."

Johnson, who finished a disappointing tied 48th at Augusta, said friendships remained intact despite the civil war sparked by their move from the PGA Tour.

"The fans were great, heard a lot of 'go Aces', and I think they were really good at Augusta," the former world number one added, referring to the LIV team he captains.

"Obviously that is one place where fans are always very respectful... it's more about the golf than what Tour you play on. I think that's how it should be all the time."

DeChambeau, who missed the Masters cut, added that his experience at Augusta was "awesome".

"Everybody that I had previously had relationships with, nothing changed from my perspective," he said. "There's no problems."


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