American Brooks Koepka stumbled in his final-round bid to win the Masters but then took aim at those who had doubted the ability of he and other players on the breakaway LIV Golf tour. Koepka had a two-stroke lead going into the final round but finished four strokes behind Spanish winner Jon Rahm, shooting a disappointing three-over 75 to settle for tied second place after leading alone following the second and third rounds.
He shared second with fellow LIV rebel Phil Mickelson, while another member of the Saudi-backed tour, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed, finished tied for fourth. Koepka was asked what he felt the displays from the LIV players at Augusta had proved about the quality on that tour which critics have suggested is well below the level of the established PGA Tour. “We’re still the same people. So I mean, I know if I’m healthy, I know I can compete,” said the four-time major winner. “I don’t think any of the guys that played this event thought otherwise, either. When Phil plays good, we know he’s going to compete. P-Reed, the same thing. “I think that’s just manufactured by the media that we can’t compete anymore, that we are washed up.”
Players from both sides of golf’s bitter divide have been keen to observe an unofficial ceasefire during the tournament, stressing their good personal relations despite the rancour and legal battles that remain. Koepka said that while the divide is real, the Masters week had proven that personal relationships remain intact.
“I guess it is fractured from the fan’s perspective. But as far as us, I think everybody saw it this week. It’s nice to see everybody. There’s no hard feelings pretty much. I think that’s the way everybody should see it,” he said.
In the build-up to the tournament, LIV chief executive Greg Norman had fantasized about the entire contingent of his players at Augusta celebrating a victory for one of them, en masse at the 18th green. While Koepka wasn’t able to deliver that moment for his employers, he certainly showed that he is close to his best after long-running injury problems.
SOURCE: AFP NEWS