Brooks Koepka's bolt to LIV Golf 'a surprise'; 'duplicitous' he went back on word

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CROMWELL, Conn. — Brooks Koepka bolting from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf came as a shock to many.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers Championship Tuesday night before officially becoming LIV Golf's newest player Wednesday. However, Koepka always made it seem like he'd never go in that direction.

"It's been pretty clear for a long time now that I'm with the PGA Tour, it's where I'm staying," Koepka said the week of the WM Phoenix Open. "I'm very happy. I think they do things the right way. People I want to do business with. I'm happy to be here. And I don't really talk about it with many other players. They have asked a couple of questions, but I trust them."

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But several months later, with the sport engulfed in a saga stemming from LIV Golf's recent launch, Koepka, a four-time major winner, went back on his word.

"Am I surprised (Koepka left)? Yes, because of what he said previously," Rory McIlroy said Wednesday at TPC River Highlands. "I think that's why I'm surprised at a lot of these guys because they say one thing and then they do another, and I don't understand that and I don't know if that's for legal reasons or if they can't — I have no idea. But it's pretty duplicitous on their part to say one thing and then do another thing."

Last week in Brookline, Koepka was noticeably annoyed at LIV Golf-related questions, saying he was only focused on the U.S. Open and that the media was throwing a "dark cloud" over the championship.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, like McIlroy, believed Koepka was true to his word, based on a recent interaction.

"Koepka leaving the [PGA Tour], was definitely a surprise for me," Scheffler said Wednesday. "I was at a function with him last week and definitely wasn't what he had in mind. We were focused on building the PGA Tour and getting the guys that are staying here together and kind of just having talks and figuring out how we can help benefit the Tour. So, to see Brooks leave was definitely a surprise for us.

"With that being said, he's made his decision. I'm not going to knock him for doing that. He made the decision that's best for him and I'm not going to be one to judge him on that."

Full-field tee times from Travelers Championship

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan held a press conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. at TPC River Highlands. When asked about Koepka's decision, Monahan said nothing was official and that he spoke to Koepka as recently as Monday, while also adding, "he's been a wonderful and tremendous PGA Tour player and I hope that continues."

But LIV Golf's official announcement that Koepka will join the circuit came six minutes into Monahan's presser. And when a reporter brought that to Monahan's attention, he was disappointed rather than shocked.

"Every player that's left, I'm going to say I have great admiration and respect for the contributions that they have made to the PGA Tour," he said. "And I'm disappointed that Brooks Koepka has left and has joined the LIV Golf series. I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it, and I look forward to having a conversation with him, but I'm not going to share any more than that at this point in time."