Is Brooks Koepka throwing shade or just being honest?

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

The Japan Skins Game featuring Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama was played late Sunday night (Monday in Japan) and won by Jason Day. What was your take on this particular event and on future exhibition matches of this kind in general?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Having been very involved in the Canadian Skins Game over 20 years ago, I’m a little biased in favour of these exhibition matches — IF the golf is played seriously, even amidst the fun and frivolity among the players.  In “my” day, appearance fees were certainly paid (otherwise, you couldn’t get anyone with a pulse to play), but spectators didn’t think or care about that, and were generally delighted with the format and the casual atmosphere.  Today, just about everyone assumes Tiger and Rory are paid a minimum of a million bucks apiece just to have their jets land at the airport, so the “competition” seems forced at best, and the “frivolity”, too.  A made-for-TV event designed to make Tiger and Rory even richer… who cares?  Bottom line… I didn’t watch, and wouldn’t have, even if it was broadcast at a respectable Eastern Time Zone hour.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Ontario: Sorry to say but I PVR’d it so I could watch it tonight. Someone will think of something to replace these events; they always do! In the 60s Johnny Miller was fantastic! He challenged Jack (the number #1 player in the world) to a series of matches. Jack refused citing the mess created when the top tennis stars begin to play their own matches at the expense of the tour.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I had work the next day so I didn’t watch any of it. The only snippets I saw were from highlights the next morning and the entire event looked to be rather humdrum, which isn’t much of a surprise given how boring Phil and Tiger’s match was. These one-off, limited-participant competitions simply don’t create compelling storylines or draw television audiences, especially when they’re broadcasted in the wee hours of the morning. It’s time to say good riddance to them once and for all and instead focus on new, exciting formats like next year’s Scandinavian Mixed, which will pit 78 golfers from the European Tour and Ladies European Tour against each other over the course of four days for a large payout.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I sure didn’t lose any sleep over it, but the scheduling alone was bizarre. A 1 pm local start made it a midnight start in the most populous golfer areas in the States. And, it meant that they couldn’t finish before sunset. Pretty much sums up how goofy the whole thing was. But the appearance fees were so high that the guys will pretend to care again, and again.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Skins Games died a natural death in North America because they weren’t entertaining, and the prize money paled in comparison to what players had on the line on a weekly basis. And did I mention that the players were NOT entertaining. Forced banter and pretending that the outcome matters may work on an unsuspecting Japanese audience, but it’s way past its best before date here. I didn’t watch and won’t watch any future iterations either. Ok, maybe if the players start playing for their own money.

Brooks Koepka was in the news last week for comments he made when asked about a rivalry with World #2 Rory McIlroy. Koepka said, “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.” While the stats don’t lie, Koepka sounds like he doesn’t have much respect for the Northern Irishman. How do you see it?

Deeks: The more I look at it, I see Brooks Koepka as an arrogant jerk.  Also, a stupid one… does he not see the value in promoting the idea that he and Rory are very much rivals, and both look forward to major battles ahead??  I hope Rory wins the entire Grand Slam next year, with Koepka finishing one shot behind in each of them… or missing every cut.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Brooks wasn’t thinking with these comments, and if he was, then he has no class. This screams, “ME ME ME, look at me, what about me”. Maybe he’s still ticked about the Player of the Year thing (I would be too), but I wouldn’t make a comment like that. Rory deserves respect, as does Brooks, so why make a comment like that at all? Just let your clubs do the talking, so you don’t sound like an ass.

Schurman: I love the media! If players say little, they are criticized. If they say a lot, they are criticized. Golf is one sport that comes down to “what have you done lately”. Sure, we can sit around and reminisce but that’s not what the subject is. Until Rory goes ‘head-to-head’ against Brooks in a major, Brooks is right. Perhaps not too popular but right.

Kaplan: He’s not wrong. As I’ve said many times before in the Round Table, we use majors—and majors alone—to measure greatness on the PGA Tour these days, and McIlroy hasn’t won one since 2014. Koepka didn’t have full PGA Tour status until 2015, so he hasn’t witnessed McIlroy’s dominance for himself nor has he gone neck-to-neck with the Northern Irishman at any of the four majors he won. So, I don’t think there was any animus in that statement; it was an objective and candid response to an unsubstantiated “rivalry” that the media has cooked up on slow news weeks.

Quinn: Sometimes he comes off like he has no empathy, no hint of social grace. But taken on its own, this comment has a matter-of-fact honesty rare in any public figure in any walk of life. It’s refreshing.

Mumford: The stats bear out Koepka’s assertion but anytime there are two players acknowledged to be World #1 and #2, that’s a rivalry – majors or otherwise. This sounds more like Koepka channeling his inner Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect.” Relax Brooks, you’re still #1. For now.

Tiger Woods announced that he’s working on a memoir called Back. It’s supposed to be a definitive story that will go way beyond what we already know. First, do you believe that Tiger can be open and candid about his life; and second, what would you hope to learn from this book?

Deeks: Do I expect “open and candid”?  Not much, unless he gives a plausible explanation for his many character flaws.  Will I read the book?  Not unless it’s ghost-written by Lorne Rubenstein, or unless the reviews assure me it’s candid and interesting.  What would I hope to learn?  Elin Nordegren’s cellphone number.

Loughry: No chance Tiger gets too deep about any of the things most will want of him. He might get into his injury details, the rest meh, I don’t think he’ll be too critical of himself, nor disclose anything of interest. I won’t rush to read it. Hope I’m wrong though, and that its super JUICEY.

Schurman: I hope we find out that Tiger works for the CIA and as he travels around the world, he conducts secret interviews on the course and during dinner with high ranking operatives. Second, I hope to learn if he was ‘brainwashed’ during his sex therapy to the extent that he no longer believed he was the superior being that was instilled in his mind as a young child. Third, is he thinking of running for President? You might say I’m Tiger’d out.

Kaplan: Lol. Love the title! Very creative . . . I think Tiger can be creative, but I truly doubt that he will be. What’s to gain by doing so? It seems like this is more of a set-the-record straight initiative after the recent airing of so many Woods-based articles and documentaries. There are a lot of details I’d hope to glean from this book, but supreme among them would be how a billionaire athlete at the top of his sport could lack the confidence to approach women, as has been reported from a number of sources. How is that even possible!?

Quinn: We’ll simply learn, once again, how gullible a great swath of humankind still is despite all evidence to the contrary. He could have called it Knee having had five surgeries in that area too but guess the PR types figured Back had a bit of word play to it and was more interesting. We already know too much about his off-course life and are relentlessly fed every micro-second of his on-course persona. This will be about as factual as John Daly’s nutty tome, but even less entertaining.

Mumford: Throughout his entire career, Tiger has been guarded at best and sometimes downright hostile to anybody trying to ferret out the truth or get behind the curtain and shed some real light on the inner workings of Tiger World. Are we now to believe that in some come-to-Jesus-moment, Tiger is going to open the vault and reveal all his secrets? I doubt it. The only thing I want to know about this book, if I really wanted to find a copy, would it be under Fiction or Non-Fiction?

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