Rory McIlroy defends Dustin Johnson after Brooks Koepka's jabs at PGA Championship

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read
PGA Tour golfer Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. (Darren Carroll/PGA of America/Getty Images)

Brooks Koepka’s quest for a third consecutive win at the PGA Championship came up short on Sunday afternoon.

Koepka, who was just two off the leaders headed into the final round, carded a 4-over 74 at TPC Harding Park and fell 25 spots on the leaderboard.

After his round on Saturday, however — when he sat behind then-leader Dustin Johnson — Koepka took a bit of a shot at the one-time major winner.

“I like my chances,” Koepka said Saturday. “When I’ve been in this position before, I’ve capitalized. I don’t know, [Johnson has] only won one. I’m playing good. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

That didn’t sit well with Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy fires back

McIlroy jumped in on the action after his round on Sunday, saying Koepka’s comments had shocked him.

"It's a very different mentality to bring to golf that I don't think a lot of golfers have,” McIlroy said. "I was watching the golf last night and heard the interview and was just sort of taken aback a little bit by sort of what he said and whether he was trying to play mind games or not.

"If he's trying to play mind games, he's trying to do it to the wrong person. I don't think D.J. really gives much of a concern [to] that ... I 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.

McIlroy then added a jab of his own.

"I mean, sort of hard to knock a guy who's got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times what Brooks has,” he said.

McIlroy’s last point is perhaps his best. Though Koepka has won four major championships, he has won just seven times on the PGA Tour. Johnson has won an impressive 21 times, including a few weeks ago at the Travelers Championship.

McIlroy finished the day with a 2-under 68, thanks largely to a birdie and an eagle in his final four holes, to end the week at T33. Johnson failed to hold on to his lead, too, slipping in the end to Collin Morikawa — who fought through a massive cluster at the top of the leaderboard to claim his first major championship win.

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