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Rory McIlroy has brought Brooks Koepka down a peg or two following comments made by the American ahead of the US PGA Championship’s final round. 

Trailing 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson by two shots going into Sunday, Koepka told reporters why he liked his chances of overhauling his Ryder Cup teammate. 

“When I’ve been in this position before, I’ve capitalised,” said the four-time major champion. “He’s only won one. I’m playing good. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Koepka’s comments were characteristically bullish. This, remember, is a guy who believes that major championships are the easiest events to win and that he only has to beat ten other players at golf’s marquee events. 

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However, many believed that he sailed perilously close to being disrespectful to Johnson. Despite having ‘only’ bagged one major, he has won 21 times on the PGA Tour – including six World Golf Championships – and spent 91 weeks at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings. Only four players have been No.1 for longer.

One of those is Rory McIlroy and, after posting a two-under 68 in the final round of the US PGA, he admitted to being a little surprised at Koepka’s comments.


“It’s a very different mentality to bring to golf that I don’t think a lot of golfers have,” said the Northern Irishman.

“I was watching the golf last night and heard the interview and was just sort of taken aback a little bit by what he said and whether he was trying to play mind games or not.

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“If he was trying to play mind games, he was trying to do it to the wrong person. I don’t think DJ really gives much of a concern that.”

McIlroy has been on the receiving end of Koepka’s unflinching honesty. As recently as last October, the then world No.1 dismissed any suggestion of a simmering rivalry with McIlroy, his closest challenger on the world rankings, saying: “I’ve got open road in front of me – I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry.”

He added: “I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour.”

McIlroy responded by taking his top billing away from him in February this year. 

• “Get a grip!” – Radar takes Koepka to task

Elaborating on Koepka’s DJ comments, McIlroy added: “I certainly try to respect everyone out here, Everyone is a great player. If you’ve won a major championship, you’re a hell of a player. Doesn’t mean you’ve only won one; you’ve won one, and you’ve had to do a lot of good things to do that.

“It’s sort of hard to knock a guy that’s got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times what Brooks has.”

Koepka ultimately finished in a share of 29th after a disappointing final round of 74, whilst Johnson finished joint second, two shots behind champion Collin Morikawa.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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