Koepka cites injuries as a reason to join LIV Golf

Brooks Koepka will make his LIV Golf Invitational Series debut on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge near Portland, Oregon. The No. 19-ranked golfer in the world is one of the biggest names to leave the PGA Tour for the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed competition, despite the backlash that other players have received.

It’s only been a few months since Koepka said that PGA Tour players joining LIV Golf would be “sold out” for the big-money startup tour. The 32-year-old told reporters on Tuesday that his opinion has since changed in the wake of injuries, and LIV Golf’s schedule really appeals to him.

“What I’ve been through on my knees for the past two years, the pain, the rehab, all these things, you realize, you know, I need a little more free time,” Koepka said. “I’ll be the first to say it: it hasn’t been easy the last few years, and I think I’ll have some more breaks, some more time at home to make sure I’m 100 percent before I play in an event and don’t feel like I have to play right away [is good]†

Since winning four majors from 2017 to 2019, Koepka has struggled with injuries to his knee, hip and wrist. Koepka partially tore his labrum during the 2020 PGA Championship, forcing him to take time off. The now former PGA star underwent surgery on his right knee a month before the 2021 Masters, where he failed to make the cut.

There are only seven LIV Golf events left on the schedule for 2022. Koepka could have stayed on the PGA Tour and played only a limited number of events, but LIV Golf offers him the opportunity to make a lot more money on a limited schedule.

It is not known how much Koepka will be paid, but the top LIV Golf players have reportedly been awarded contracts worth at least $100 million. Each tournament consists of just 48 players competing for a share of $25 million in prize money.

Koepka joined LIV Golf shortly after the US Open, expressing his frustration at the demand for the new tour. The PGA Tour continues to lose some of its best players, who have been criticized for helping Saudi Arabia “play sports” after years of alleged human rights abuses.

“You know, we heard,” Koepka said, when asked about the response LIV Golf players have received. “I think everyone has that. It’s raised. But look, like we said, our only job is to go and play golf, and that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re trying to grow the game, do all of this other things. And we’re doing our best.”

Koepka is suspended from the PGA Tour, but can still participate in major tournaments for the time being.

Brooks Koepka won back-to-back PGA Championships in 2018 and 2019