Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka plans to leave the PGA Tour to join the new LIV Golf series backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, according to reports.
Koepka’s decision, which was first reported by Daily Telegraph and subsequently other news organizations including ESPN and the Associated Press, comes after Koepka denounced LIV Golf as other athletes including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau joined the league.
“Money isn’t going to change my life,” Koepka said in 2020 about non-PGA Tour golf leagues. “There’s something to be said about freedom of playing. I get to choose. To me, it’s not worth it. I’m happy with how things are. When life is good — and it’s real good — you don’t want to change it. I think the PGA Tour is run beautifully.”
Koepka was possibly referring to the idea that LIV Golf could offer big paydays for players to join the circuit. Eventually, massive reported paydays were secured by Dustin Johnson ($150 million) and Phil Mickelson ($200 million) for joining the Saudi-backed golf league. It’s unclear if Koepka is also being paid millions to join.
Koepka also pushed back on the press for asking him questions about LIV Golf during the U.S. Open last week.
“Y’all are throwing a black cloud over the U.S. Open,” Koepka said. “And I think that sucks.”
The LIV Golf International Series was founded by former pro golfer Greg Norman and aims to challenge the PGA Tour. The league is an eight-tournament circuit that features seven regular-season tournaments and one team event in October — events will be played in places including New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, Bangkok, Saudi Arabia and Miami.
The 32-year-old Koepka has made just under $38 million from PGA Tour events during his golf career, according to contract monitoring site Spotrac.
According to a PGA Tour statement, players who participate in LIV Golf events will be banned from PGA Tour events.
The players who have already been banned from participating in the PGA Tour because they joined the LIV series are: Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Branden Grace, Dustin Johnson, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Andy Ogletree, Louis Oosthuizen, Turk Petit, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein and Lee Westwood.
Golfers who joined the LIV series may be allowed to play in the three U.S. majors outside of the PGA Championship — the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the Masters — because those tournaments are not governed by the PGA Tour and have their own organizational and operating bodies.
Before Mickelson joined the LIV series, he created a controversy when he was quoted brushing off human rights violations by the Saudis.
“They’re scary mother [expletive] to get involved with,” Mickelson told his biographer Alan Shipnuck in February. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”