Brooks Koepka joins LIV Golf as PGA Tour announces increase in prize money from 2024
22 June 2022, 17:17 | Updated: 23 June 2022, 06:16
Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka has been confirmed as the latest big-name player to leave the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational series.
The former world No 1 had already pulled out of this week's PGA Tour Travelers Championship in Connecticut and will next compete at the second LIV series event of the season in Oregon on June 30.
He follows Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson in joining the breakaway series.
"There's no understating the impact that Brooks Koepka has had on the game of golf in the last five years," said LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman.
"He carries a championship pedigree and record of success as one of the most elite players in the world.
"The addition of Brooks is yet another example of the incredible fields LIV Golf is assembling as we build momentum in our first season and look towards the future."
Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy says he has been surprised by the "duplicitous" behaviour of some golfers who have switched to the LIV series.
The PGA Tour has announced plans to compete with the LIV series, which includes increases in prize money from 2024 and a lucrative 'Fall Series'.
He also confirmed the creation of a series of up to three international events to be played after the conclusion of the fall schedule for the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup.
The tournaments are expected to rotate around the world and - like LIV's tournaments - will have no cut.
The Genesis Invitational, the Bay Hill Invitational, the World Match Play, the Memorial, the Fed Ex St Jude and the BMW Championship will all have purses of $20 million, while the Players Championship is up to $25 million.
The regular season is also set to move to January to August, as opposed to the current September-August format.
In revealing the upcoming changes, PGA tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted they can't compete financially with the LIV series, but predicted the Tour would "come out stronger because of the loyalty and support of players and fans".
"I am not naïve. If this is an arms race and if the only weapons are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.
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"We welcome good healthy competition, the LIV series is not that. It's an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game. Currently no one organisation owns or dominates the game of golf, instead the various entities work together to meet our own respective priorities but with the best interests of the game at heart.
"But when someone attempts to buy the sport and dismantle the institutions that are intrinsically invested in growth and focus only a personal priority, that partnership evaporates. Instead we end up with one person, one entity, using endless amounts of money to direct employees toward their personal goal, which may or may not change tomorrow or the next day. I doubt that's the vision any of us have for the game.
"My read on the situation is that this environment is unsettling and the players want to make certain that their Tour is doing everything it possibly can to grow and evolve in the manner that has got us to this point.
"We need to continue to be the ultimate platform for the best players in the world - a place they want to compete to prepare for the greatest championships in our game. The best competing against the best at historic venues with traditions and meanings and purpose.
"We are going down our path, and we are excited about what we have announced today, and there is more exciting news to come. We are going to do it as a Tour, as a collective, and a group of members that are absolutely behind their Tour."
It was announced earlier this month any players involved in the LIV Series would be indefinitely suspended from the PGA Tour.
As Koepka departs, world No. 4 Collin Morikawa and two-time major winner Justin Thomas have both denied they are set to follow.
Morikawa says he is "here to stay" on the PGA Tour while Thomas, who is out of the Travelers Championship due to injury, tweeted: "Before the rumors start flying, I have decided to WD to treat and rest my back which I tweaked earlier this week.
"Just making sure I get it taken care of and ready for the rest of the PGA season as planned. Hate to be missing one of the best/my favorite events @TravelersChamp!"
How Koepka changed his tune
Koepka was asked about defecting prior to last week's US Open and gave a tetchy response about why he had seemingly decided to stay on the PGA Tour. He said: "There's been no other option to this point, so where else are you going to go?"
When the reporter pointed out that the LIV events had started, Koepka added: "As of last week. That's it. I wasn't playing last week."
He added: "I'm here. I'm here at the US Open. I'm ready to play US Open and I think it kind of sucks, too, you are all throwing this black cloud over the US Open. It's one of my favourite events. I don't know why you guys keep doing that.
"The more legs you give it, the more you keep talking about it."
The total prize fund across the initial eight LIV events is £200m, with Charl Schwartzel scooping £3.86m when he won the inaugural 54-hole competition at Centurion Club - nearly three times the figure he claimed for his major success at the Masters in 2011.
The controversy of LIV Golf: Explained
Players in the LIV Golf Series have been repeatedly grilled in press conferences about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and whether they are competing in the league solely for monetary reasons.
The breakaway series is backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) - the owners of Newcastle United - and involves huge sums of money for the competitors.
No official World Golf Ranking points are awarded for LIV events, although CEO Greg Norman says an application will be submitted for that to change.
The inaugural event took place at the Centurion Club last week, with former major winners Dustin Johnson and Phi Mickelson among the 48-man field, while seven more tournaments are scheduled over the coming months.
Pumpkin Ridge GC in Portland from June 30-July 2 and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster from July 29-31 are the next two host venues, with further US-based tournaments taking place in Boston from September 2-4 and Chicago from September 16-18.
Stonehill Golf Club in Bangkok is the venue from October 7-9 and Royal Greens Golf Club - the site of the Saudi International in recent years - hosts the following week, with the season-ending Team Championship then hosted at Trump National Doral Miami from October 27-30.
(c) Sky Sports 2022: Brooks Koepka joins LIV Golf as PGA Tour announces increase in prize money from 2024