Will the Masters be uncomfortable for LIV golfers and PGA Tour players? Not so fast, say Bubba Watson and Brooks Koepka.
Speaking to the media ahead of LIV Golf League’s third event of the 2023 season in Orlando at the Orange County National, Watson and Koepka spoke alongside Patrick Reed ahead of this week’s tournament, but much of the questioning centered on the next week’s Masters.
Watson and Reed have each donned green jackets at the Augusta National, while Koepka has accumulated four majors in his career. There has been much debate over the last few weeks about how LIV golfers would interact with those on the PGA Tour and if it would be tense. However, Watson and Koepka said don’t expect anything to happen.
“I’ll be honest, man. It’s just awkward in the media,” Watson said. “I spoke to people who will be there. I’m going to sign up with Jason Day and Cam Young in the par 3. Some guys have already asked me to play a few practice rounds. The media are the only ones pushing it. I have nothing against anyone. If you change jobs, I’m not mad at you. If you start reporting for someone else, hey man, it’s a better decision for you and your family.”
Koepka added: “I think that’s one of the big things. See you down in Jupiter – I was with Rory (McIlroy) and JT (Justin Thomas) yesterday and I think Keegan (Bradley) was there. We see each other quite often. I mean there are a lot of conversations. I just talked to Rory for about 30 minutes about the ball and all the other things that are going on. From what I’ve seen, no one is angry with anyone.”
The Masters marks the first time many golfers have met across the various tours since the Open Championship last July. Some have competed in DP World Tour events such as the Desert Dubai Classic where McIlroy outscored Reed by a stroke.
While players may not harbor animosity, as leagues, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are a separate story. The two are in one ongoing litigation in federal court.
Eleven LIV golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last August. Players have come and gone over the last six months and now only LIV Golf, DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein remain.
However, Watson and Koepka insist the players themselves have nothing personal against others, even as they say comments from players like McIlroy v LIV Golf are not surprising.
“(He) protects his essence, man,” Watson said. “He protects his business, which is fine.”
In addition to the antitrust lawsuit noted above, Reed has sued numerous media representatives and corporations for defamation. There was also a case involving LIV golfers and the DP World Tour which will clarify whether LIV players can participate in DP World Tour events.
LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the kingdom to wash its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances and the inhumane treatment of detainees. And members of the royal family and the Saudi government have been accused of involvement in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
Source : sports.yahoo.com