With the Ryder Cup rapidly approaching, both Europe and the USA are gearing up for an epic showdown at Rome’s Marco Simone Golf & Country Club. Brooks Koepka, the sole participant from the LIV series, addressed criticisms of perceived bias in the selection process by emphasizing that his fellow LIV golfers simply needed to “step up their game.”
Brooks Koepka says “everybody had an opportunity” to make the USA’s Ryder Cup team, amid claims some of his fellow LIV golfers weren’t fairly considered for selection.
The 44th edition of the famous tournament begins this Friday, September 29 at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome.
The last edition in 2021 was won by the USA, triumphing 19-9 over Europe in Wisconsin.
But since then the controversial LIV series has become a fixture in the golfing landscape, with a number of players transferring to the Saudi-run event.
In the build-up to the Ryder Cup, Bryson DeChambeau – himself a LIV golfer – appeared to question whether USA skipper Zach Johnson should have called up more LIV players, saying “we’re nothing different”.
Responding to questions on whether the process to select players had been fair, Koepka said: “I don’t make the decisions.
“Everybody had an opportunity to get there. I mean, I had the same opportunity as every other LIV player, and I’m here.
“Play better. That’s always the answer.”
Koepka also refuted claims – as the sole LIV golfer on show at the Ryder Cup – that he will feel affiliation to the series while on national duty, or that the perceived similarities in the formats will have any bearing on how he performs.
He said: “I feel like I’m representing the USA. That’s what I’ve got on the front of my hat this week, so that’s what I’m representing.
“It’s not a group of individuals in that locker room. We’re just all one team, and that’s the way we think. That’s what I believe, and I’m pretty sure everybody else there thinks that.
“You’re just going to play a round of golf and then the team scores add up at the end. I don’t see how that has really any translation to this format.
“Yeah, you’re in a group setting or like a team setting, but other than that, I don’t see how it’s…we’re not playing alternate shot or best ball I think until Miami in three weeks, and that’s just a match play.
“You can only take care of yourself, so I guess it would be like a Sunday out here.”
Rory McIIroy, himself talking to press ahead of the event, discussed the absence from Team Europe of three figures synonymous with the Ryder Cup in recent editions: Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, all of whom have moved to the LIV series.
“It’s certainly a little strange not having them around,” said McIlroy.
“But I think this week of all weeks it’s going to hit home with them they are not here. They are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them.
“This week serves as a reminder that the choices they made have resulted in their absence from this event, which is undoubtedly challenging. The golf landscape is continuously evolving and quite dynamic. We’ll wait and see what the future holds and whether they will have a role to play in it. I had always anticipated that this week would be the moment when the reality of their absence truly sinks in.”