Brooks Koepka, a LIV golfer, simply received the PGA Championship. Will it change the sport?
Earlier than the Masters in April, essentially the most we had seen of Brooks Koepka in current occasions had been within the Netflix documentary Full Swing.
In an episode virtually solely devoted to Koepka, we acquired an in-depth take a look at a few of his final months on the PGA Tour, a missed lower on the 2022 Masters and his eventual resolution to depart with golf’s traditions and be part of the controversial breakaway LIV Golf league.
It was a portrait of a fallen big. Between 2017 and 2019, Koepka received 4 majors and have become the game’s most dominant big-game drive. When the lights have been brightest, Koepka emerged like solely the greats can.
Then got here damage within the type of debilitating knee points, the sort that made it powerful for Koepka to stroll, not to mention swing a golf membership. This man whose complete identification had been cast by easy dominance — a pure athlete bullying a buttoned-up sport — abruptly could not dominate anymore.
That was the Koepka we noticed in Full Swing. Downtrodden, misplaced, coming to phrases with a brand new actuality he had by no means imagined for himself. The grand takeaway from all of it was one Koepka quote — “I can not compete with these guys week in, week out”.
Twelve months later, Koepka is a significant champion once more. Two issues have modified in his life to take him from his lowest level to the highest of the mountain once more — he acquired wholesome, and he joined LIV Golf.
As a lot as this victory is Koepka’s alone, it is going to even be framed as one for his Saudi-backed, Greg Norman-led golf league.
The golf world has typically pontificated what would occur when a LIV participant received a significant. That it has come at solely the fourth time of asking will solely add to the burden of these questions.
If nothing else, the primary two majors of 2023 have solely quashed the notion that becoming a member of LIV is a loss of life sentence for a participant’s profession.
Typical knowledge had pushed the concept that forgoing the grind of the PGA Tour for LIV — the place there is no such thing as a lower throughout occasions, the cash is assured and there’s little to no threat of shedding your home — would see the aggressive juices begin to dry up, leaving these gamers wanting follow and at a drawback in the course of the majors.
For some gamers, perhaps that will be true. However for a lot of the guys that made the swap, the precise reverse is bearing out. From the surface, it seems that a step again from the week-to-week scrap has solely served to maintain the batteries charged for those that matter, and Koepka is entrance of that record.
He is spent his entire profession saying the majors are the one issues that basically matter to him. Now he is discovered himself in a state of affairs the place he can show it, the place he can journey world wide successfully taking part in follow rounds and protecting the thoughts recent for the weeks he cares about.
And it seems he was proper — a T2 on the Masters and a win on the PGA is tough to argue with.
Possibly you may make the identical argument for Phil Mickelson, who had a bolt from the blue week of magic on the Masters, or Bryson DeChambeau, who has largely been a no-show at LIV occasions however performed brilliantly for a T4 end at Oak Hill this week.
This must be a promoting level for Norman and co sooner or later. There is not any doubt that there may have been PGA Tour gamers considerably within the LIV idea (or, extra precisely, the cash) who held fears of what the swap might do for his or her better profession ambitions. That now looks as if much less of a purpose to not be part of.
Outdoors of a recruiting chip, what else does LIV acquire from a Koepka win? Does it give these occasions the status they search? Does it help of their pursuit of Official World Golf Rating factors? Will the crowds surge and the TV rankings explode and LIV’s combat for world domination lastly be received?
The reply to all of these questions might be not.
LIV nonetheless is what it’s. In case you’re a fan already, like the numerous 1000’s of oldsters at The Grange in Adelaide have been, you will nonetheless be a fan. In case you have sturdy ethical opposition to it, that clearly will not be modified by a Koepka win at Oak Hill. In case you’re merely not , then you’ll be able to think about that needle unmoved.
Brooks Koepka successful a significant is critical as a result of it is a main, and this present day is now essentially the most vital within the story of one of many nice golfers of our technology. Simply because it was for Jon Rahm on the Masters, it is an interesting story for an athlete, not the tour he performs for week to week.
Maybe, in time, we are going to look again at this as a seminal second for LIV, because the singular second the floodgates reopened and the gamers went working to LIV in hopes of “doing a Brooks”.
However even when that occurs, and there’s completely no assure of it, all it is going to actually do is fracture golf even additional. And at that time, the one factor that can actually develop into true is that the majors are really all that issues.
It is a fact that Brooks Koepka has been telling us all alongside.