Koepka 'wants to play against the best'

Remains focused on Honda Classic

As the only member of the world’s top 10 contesting this week’s Honda Classic, Brooks Koepka was bound to be the centre of attention at Palm Beach Gardens.

Koepka 'wants to play against the best'
Brooks Koepka at the Genesis Invitational golf tournament at Riviera Country Club. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

The four-time major winner was happy to use his pre-tournament press conference to outline his opposing view to that of Rory McIlroy when it comes to the proposed Premier Golf League (PGL).

World number one McIlroy delivered a potentially fatal blow to the PGL last week by ruling himself out of joining a breakaway 18-tournament circuit of 48 players.

“The more I’ve thought about it the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy said ahead of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

“I’ve never been one for being told what to do and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career and I feel I would give that up by going to play this other league. For me, I’m out.”

McIlroy also suggested Masters champion Tiger Woods would be unwilling to commit to so many tournaments a year, but Koepka appears more amenable to the possibility.

“I’m just gonna play where the best players play – simple as,” Koepka said. “I want to play against the best, I think everybody wants to play against the best.

“Whatever comes of it, comes of it and it is what it is. I just want to play good this week and focus on the Honda Classic. I’m not interested in anything else other than to play good this week and come out with a W (win).”

Asked if McIlroy’s stance had changed his opinion, Koepka added: “My opinion’s my opinion. Nobody else is going to sway it.

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“I respect what Rory said. Everybody’s got their own thoughts, everybody’s got a different opinion. I’m pretty sure Rory wants to play against the best players in the world too.

“Wherever that is, everybody’s going to be playing.”

The attraction of the PGL’s proposal to have the best 48 players competing against each other in every event is arguably borne out by the relatively weak field for the Honda Classic.

Five of the world’s top 10 have houses close to the venue for the £5.4million event, but McIlroy, Woods, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson have all opted not to play. World number seven Patrick Cantlay is undergoing a medical procedure.

McIlroy won the event in 2012 to become world number one for the first time, holding off a charging Woods who carded a final round of 62 to finish two shots behind.

Woods finished 12th in 2018 to kickstart his comeback from spinal fusion surgery but is also an eight-time winner of next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is followed by the prestigious Players Championship after its move from May to March.

The Honda Classic used to precede the World Golf Championships event at nearby Doral, but that tournament was moved to Mexico in 2017 and in 2019 switched to the week before the Honda as it made logistical sense for it to follow the west coast swing.

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