McIlroy hits out at Koepka's Johnson comments: I try to respect everyone

By Sports Desk August 09, 2020

Rory McIlroy hit out at Brooks Koepka's "mind games" at the US PGA Championship, with the former world number one insisting he tries to respect everyone.

Koepka aimed a dig at US PGA rival and overnight leader Dustin Johnson prior to Sunday's final round, highlighting the fact that the latter had only won one major compared to his four.

Bidding to achieve a US PGA three-peat, Koepka was forced to eat his words as the American star fell out of contention in San Francisco, where Johnson continued to battle atop the leaderboard.

McIlroy, who ended his TPC Harding Park campaign in a tie for 33rd following his two-under-par 68, was taken aback by Koepka's comments.

"It's different, right, it's a very different mentality to bring to golf that I don't think a lot of golfers have," McIlroy said during his post-round news conference.

"I was watching the golf last night and heard the interview and was just sort of taken aback a little bit by sort of what he said and whether he was trying to play mind games or not. If he's trying to play mind games, he's trying to do it to the wrong person. I don't think DJ really gives much of a concern [to] that.

"But just different. I certainly try to respect everyone out here. Everyone is a great player. If you've won a major championship, you're a hell of a player. Doesn't mean you've only won one; you've won one, and you've had to do a lot of good things to do that.

"I mean, sort of hard to knock a guy that's got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times what Brooks has."

McIlroy has not managed a top-10 performance since finishing tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March prior to the coronavirus-enforced break.

The four-time major champion signed off at the US PGA with an eagle, two birdies and a pair of bogeys.

McIlroy said: "I'm happy just to be out on the golf course. So many people that still can't get back to work. I was even saying there, even where I live in Florida, it feels like a bubble. Not much has been locked down, sort of been able to go about our daily lives with not much interruption.

"I'm happy to be playing golf and grateful that we're still able to play out here. I haven't played as well as I've wanted to, but it beats being sat on the couch at home, so I'll take it."

McIlroy has not won a major tournament since 2014 and when asked about his struggles, the 31-year-old replied: "Maybe I'm just not as good as I used to be.

"I really don't know. I feel like the golf that I've played in the majors has been sort of similar to the golf I've played outside of them, and I've won some big events and played well and had a good season last season.

"I can't really put my finger on it. I go out there and try my best every single day. Some days I play better than others, and just got to keep going and keep persisting and see if you can do better the next time."

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  • After 477 failed attempts, Bland finally wins on European Tour with British Masters triumph After 477 failed attempts, Bland finally wins on European Tour with British Masters triumph

    Richard Bland finally won a European Tour title at the 478th attempt as the 48-year-old saw decades of persistence pay off at the British Masters.

    The Englishman first appeared on the circuit in 1998 and had three runner-up finishes and a pair of third places to his name across his career before this week, but the first win had proven elusive.

    However, he put that right on Saturday at The Belfry, a closing 66 taking him to 13 under par before Bland held his nerve in a play-off to deny Italian Guido Migliozzi.

    Bland made birdie at the 18th with a putt from almost 30 feet for a six-under 66 to set the clubhouse target, but Migliozzi joined him on that mark by picking up shots at the 15th and 16th holes.

    It would have been a nervy wait for Bland as Migliozzi targeted the birdie in the closing two holes that would have brought him the title, but the 24-year-old could not make it happen as he settled for a 68, triggering the play-off.

    When Migliozzi missed from around 10 feet for par at the first extra hole - the 18th - Bland had the chance to slot the winning putt from close range, and he made no mistake.

    "I've done it," said an emotional Bland on Sky Sports. "My game had been trending in the right way and I'd worked really hard, as you know we've worked so hard on the wedges."

    Interviewed by his coach Tim Barter, Bland, who collects €339,278 for his win, said: "I just drove the ball so well this week. I've gone back to my old driver. Round here - especially for me, I'm not the longest on tour - so I've got to hit fairways and I've probably missed single-digit fairways all week.

    "If I have missed one it's been by a couple of inches. I came off a pretty decent week last week and a top 10 [last month] in Gran Canaria so I knew my game was in decent shape."

    Finland's Mikko Korhonen shared third place on 12 under with England's Dave Coupland and Polish player Adrian Meronk, with another Englishman in Andy Sullivan tied for sixth with South African Dean Burmester.

    Tournament host Danny Willett finished at nine under, the same mark as fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell who was the overnight leader but struggled on the final day, a one-over 73 seeing him slide down the leaderboard to a share of 11th place.

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