Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas turn back on Greg Norman over Saudi-backed golf series

Brooks Koepka interview interrupted by Bryson DeChambeau

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American golf stars Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas have both turned their backs on the controversial Saudi-backed golf series led by two-time major champion Greg Norman.

Rumours of a global golf circuit supported by Saudi investment had been circulating for weeks, before the Asian Tour announced last week that a global 10-event series would take place in 2022.

It was then revealed that Norman was to become Chief Executive of LIV Golf Investments, a Saudi-backed company that has joined in partnership with the Asian Tour to financially support, and deliver the series.

This has no doubt led to concern from within the PGA Tour setup that some of its biggest names would be lured away to take part in the series rather than the traditional Tour, due to the lucrative player deals that are said to be on offer.

Despite the recent announcement though, it seems two of the Tour’s most sought after names in Koepka and Thomas will not be prized away, as they both dismissed the idea at this week’s Mayakoba Classic.

Speaking in Mexico this week, four-time major champion Koepka revealed he had only interest in one golf circuit, and that was the PGA Tour.

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He said: “Seems like there’s a bunch of stuff going on, but at the end of the day there’s only one tour I’m playing right now, so I’m only interested in that one. The freedom to be my own boss is nice, so I enjoy that.

These sentiments were also echoed by fellow US-winning Ryder Cup teammate Thomas, who said that whilst he is interested in hearing new ideas, his focus is solely on the PGA Tour.

Thomas commented: “I’m focused on what I’m doing out here. Obviously I’m trying to listen and talk to players and people and hear as much as I can.

“But at the same time, what’s most important right now is my career on the PGA Tour and me playing well in Mexico this week.”

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The 28-year-old also admitted he does share a relationship with the frontman of the contentious series, Norman, and believes he and the players competing will no doubt be excited.

The American added: “I know Greg a little bit. I know that this has kind of been a vision and a hope of his for a while. I know he’s excited and the guys that are excited to potentially go do it are probably even more so.”

A key component said behind the proposed idea is that Norman believes the current PGA Tour circuit does not financially reward players enough for their achievements, and whilst Thomas sympathises he does feel the Tour rewards are getting better.

He continued: “I understand what he’s saying, but I think that was something that maybe wasn’t addressed as much in the past, but is a lot now.

“With stuff like the Player Impact Program and purses and everything going up, I think it’s becoming (better).”

One golfing star who also believes the current structure in place is more than fit for purpose is Rory McIlroy, who also condemned the idea of a breakaway Saudi golf league when murmurings first began early this year. 

McIlroy said: “People can see it for what it is, a money grab, which is fine if what you’re playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that’s what makes you happy.”

He added: “I’m just speaking about my own beliefs. I’m playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world. I honestly don’t think there’s a better structure in place and I don’t think there will be.”

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