Rory McIlroy admitted Brooks Koepka had a point when the world number one said he did not view the Northern Irishman as a rival, but did not appreciate being reminded about his major drought.

Last week Koepka, winner of four majors over the past two years, dismissed the notion of McIlroy being one of his nearest challengers for golf's biggest prizes.

"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka had said.

McIlroy is also a four-time major winner but it has been five years since his most recent triumph at the US PGA Championship, so he could not argue with Koepka's assessment.

"What Brooks [Koepka] said wasn't wrong," McIlroy told GolfTV at a skins event in Japan.

"I mean, he's been the best player in the world the last couple of years - four majors.

"I don't think he had to remind me that I haven't won one in a while."

McIlroy did pip Koepka to be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year last month, and he insisted the American's blunt comments had not caused a rift between the pair.

"I love Brooks, he's a great guy," added McIlroy, who is ranked second in the world.

"He's obviously super-competitive, like we all are. I can see where he's coming from.

"I think if you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing that it's become. But Brooks and I are good, we're good friends."

McIlroy was one of four men involved in a skins event in Japan ahead of the Zozo Championship – the first official PGA Tour tournament of the season, which begins on Thursday.

He finished the tournament in third place, behind winner Jason Day and second-placed Tiger Woods, with Hideki Matsuyama coming fourth.

Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the CJ Cup due to a knee injury.

Reigning champion Koepka, who last won at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in July, was even par through his first two rounds at Nine Bridges, located on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Prior to the 2019-20 season the four-time major winner had stem cell-treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee.

He missed the cut at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open two weeks ago – his first tournament since returning.

It is unclear how serious Koepka's injury is or when he will be back on the course.

Justin Thomas went into round three of the CJ Cup at the top of the leaderboard and with a two-shot lead.

Justin Thomas earned a two-stroke lead with a sizzling performance at the halfway stage of the CJ Cup in South Korea on Friday.

American star Thomas used a bogey-free nine-under-par 63 to surge to the top of the leaderboard following the second round.

Thomas started his day with four successive birdies and finished with nine in total, including one at the last as he catapulted himself eight positions into the lead at 13 under through 36 holes.

Winner of the PGA Tour tournament – which is being played outside of the United States this year – in 2017, Thomas leads An Byeong-hun and Danny Lee heading into the third round.

Local hope An (69) and New Zealand's Lee (66) are tied for second at the Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island.

An carried a one-shot lead into the second round but the South Korean lost his spot at the front of the queue following two bogeys and five birdies, while Lee improved to 11 under but he could have ended the day a stroke better off if not for a bogey at the 18th.

Emiliano Grillo (66) and former world number one Jordan Spieth (65) are four shots off the pace ahead of Saturday's penultimate round.

Spieth was a big mover at the CJ Cup, with the three-time major champion climbing 25 positions into a tie for fourth, thanks in part to back-to-back birdies to end the day.

The American almost aced the 17th after his tee shot fell just short of the hole, highlighting a fine display from Spieth.

Jason Day struggled as the Australian's second-round 73 saw him drop down to five under, while defending champion Brooks Koepka also had a round to forget.

Looking to defend his title, Koepka was unable to back up his opening-round 69 after shooting a three-over-par 75 – a round that included five bogeys and left him even par.

Local hope An Byeong-hun holds a one-shot lead after round one of the CJ Cup.

The South Korean shot an eight-under 64 on the opening day at Nine Bridges to hold a slender lead over Chilean Joaquin Niemann, with Australian Jason Day one stroke further back. 

Americans Charley Hoffman and Charles Howell III are among the chasing pack at five-under, having spent most of the day challenging at the top of the leaderboard.

Defending champion and world number one Brooks Koepka had something of a frustrating round but nailed an eagle on the 18th to finish at three-under.

The opening day belonged to An, though, as he finished with eight birdies – including four on the back nine – to move into the lead.

Only Niemann bettered An's run at the back end of Nine Bridges with five birdies, including two on holes 17 and 18.

Brooks Koepka insists he does not have a rivalry with Rory McIlroy because the Northern Irishman has not won a major since 2014.

World number one Koepka has enjoyed a phenomenal run in golf's major events over recent years, claiming victory at the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens and 2018 and 2019 US PGA Championships.

In 2019, as well as winning the US PGA, he finished tied second at the Masters, second at the U.S. Open and tied fourth at The Open Championship.

McIlory, ranked number two in the world, finished last season by claiming the FedEx Cup and was named the PGA Tour's player of the year – voted for by his fellow professionals.

But the 30-year-old's wait for a fifth major now stands at five years, dating back to his triumph at the 2014 PGA Championship.

Speaking ahead of his CJ Cup defence, Koepka mischievously offered a reminder of this when the prospect of a rivalry with McIlroy was discussed.

"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka said, as per AFP.

"I'm not looking at anybody behind me. I'm number one in the world. I've got open road in front of me. I'm not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don't see it as a rivalry.

"You know if the fans do [call it a rivalry], then that's on them and it could be fun."

Koepka made sure to point out he remains a huge admirer of McIlroy's game and suggested his stance on rivalries might have more to do with golf as a sport in general.

"Look, I love Rory. He's a great player and he's fun to watch," he added. "But it's just hard to believe there's a rivalry in golf. I just don't see it."

Brooks Koepka missed the cut in his first start of the PGA Tour season as four players shared the lead at the halfway mark of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Koepka, in action for the first time in the 2019-20 season, followed up his opening-round 70 with an even-par 71 during the second round in Las Vegas on Friday.

The world number one was unable to get going, his difficult round including a double bogey at the par-four 11th hole.

Koepka – runner-up at the 2017 tournament – ended up at one under, well back of the cut line of five under in Nevada.

Kevin Na produced the round of the day as the American fired a nine-under 62 to be part of a four-man leading pack.

Na charged into 12 under to sit alongside Brian Stuard (65), Patrick Cantlay (64) and Lucas Glover (63) atop the leaderboard.

The 2011 champion, Na produced a brilliant finish to his round, making eagles at the par-five 13th and 16th before birdies on the final two holes.

Cantlay has enjoyed the tournament in recent years, finishing runner-up last year after winning the event in November 2017, and is in contention once more.

Australian Matt Jones fired an eight-under 63 to be outright fifth at 11 under.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau (68) sits back in a tie for 21st at eight under in a group that includes Phil Mickelson (69).

Nick Taylor grabbed a one-stroke lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open as Brooks Koepka made a slow start to his season on Thursday.

Canada's Taylor fired an eight-under 63 in the opening round in Las Vegas to edge into the lead ahead of Brian Harman (64).

Eyes were on world number one Koepka, who is making his first appearance of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season.

The American four-time major champion underwent a procedure on his left knee after the FedEx Cup playoffs and he was below his best in the first round in Nevada.

Koepka endured a rollercoaster round with four bogeys and four birdies through his first 15 holes, before picking up a shot at the last to shoot a one-under 70 and be tied for 85th.

Brooks' younger brother, Chase, fared far better, managing a five-under 66 to be tied for eighth.

Phil Mickelson is among a group of five players who are tied for third at six under.

The American veteran carded a 65 to sit alongside Brian Gay, Sam Ryder, Brian Stuard and Maverick McNealy.

On what is a congested leaderboard, there are 12 players tied for eighth, including defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka feels 100 per cent again ahead of the start of the new PGA Tour season after revealing he had stem cell treatment on his injured left knee following the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Koepka produced a series of superb performances last term, successfully defending his title at the US PGA Championship in between finishing tied second at The Masters, second at the U.S. Open and tied fourth at The Open.

Speaking ahead of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Koepka disclosed that he enjoyed such success while playing with a partially torn patellar tendon that prevented him from practicing ahead of events.

The 29-year-old was also hampered by a wrist issue but is now ready to launch a renewed bid for more majors with his body back to full strength.

"I wasn't healthy, had some stuff done on my knee, one day after FedEx [The Tour Championship]. [I've] just been trying to take it easy, trying to get healthy," Koepka told a media conference.

"I finally feel 100 per cent, hopefully it can stay that way for the rest of the season. Battling it there for the last four months of that season, it's just nice to be back playing.

"I had some stem cell done on my knee, my patellar tendon was partially torn. I spent the first three, four weeks [of the break] rehabbing that, [but I've] been back hitting balls, I can finally practice again without pain.

"Last year I didn't practice at all. I finally feel this year I can practice again. If I can come back and be healthy that's the important thing, I finally feel good enough where I can actually practice and feel prepared coming into golf tournaments, not trying to find it on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'll be practicing this year.

"My wrist wasn't 100 per cent and my knee was bugging me from March on. [I'm] not gonna make excuses, it's [just] nice to feel good for once. Just being able to walk the golf course without pain is nice. 

"I've got five, six years left of my prime and I want to see how far I can take it. I'm extremely motivated to see how far I can push it."

Brooks Koepka edged Rory McIlroy to win a second straight PGA of America Player of the Year Award.

World number one Koepka claimed three victories during the 2018-19 PGA Tour season, winning The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, US PGA Championship and WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

While McIlroy won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title on Sunday, he was edged by Koepka to the player of the year crown.

Koepka finished with 84 points, ahead of McIlroy (78) with Patrick Cantlay and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (42) well back.

The American is the first player to win back-to-back PGA of America Player of the Year crowns since Tiger Woods (2006 and 2007).

McIlroy did claim a prize, winning the Vardon Trophy for being the leader in adjusted scoring average.

The Northern Irishman added to his 2012 and 2014 titles with an adjusted average of 69.057, beating Cantlay (69.306) and Webb Simpson (69.377).

Rory McIlroy claimed his second FedEx Cup title despite briefly stumbling late during his four-stroke win at the Tour Championship on Sunday.

McIlroy shot a four-under 66 in the final round at East Lake in Atlanta, ending up at 18 under and clear of Xander Schauffele (70) to claim the $15million prize.

The Northern Irishman also won the FedEx Cup in 2016. He and Tiger Woods are the only golfers to win two FedEx Cups.

The 30-year-old appeared en route to an easy victory in the final round, holding a four-stroke lead through 13 holes.

But he picked up his first bogey of the round on the 14th, then bogeyed the par-three 15th. Then, he hit his drive on the par-four 16th into a fairway bunker. With his lead cut to two strokes, disaster loomed, but McIlroy saved par on 16.

He then knocked down a 16-foot putt for birdie on 17 to build a three-stroke lead.

As fans surrounded the 18th green en masse, McIlroy made a nice save from a greenside bunker, then holed a short birdie putt to finish in style.

"Such a cool way to end what for me has been a great season," McIlroy told NBC.

"I'm so thankful … I couldn't be prouder to be your 2019 FedEx Cup champion."

McIlroy's brief struggles on his back nine opened the door for Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, but they could not capitalise.

Schauffele shot a final-round 70. Koepka bogeyed 12, 13 and 14, and needed a birdie on 17 to salvage a 72 and a tie for third with Justin Thomas, five shots behind McIlroy for the title.

Thomas shot a 68 on Sunday and birdied 16 and 18 to boost his payday.

Paul Casey finished fifth, nine shots behind McIlroy, despite a final-round 72.

Adam Scott, Tony Finau and Chez Reavie finished sixth through eighth respectively, and Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama tied for ninth.

Brooks Koepka holds a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Tour Championship as the FedEx Cup gears up for a thrilling finale.

The lightning that struck East Lake Golf Course in DeKalb County, Georgia a day earlier meant the end of third round had to be completed on Sunday.

World number one Koepka heads the pack after a two-under 68 left him at -15 for the tournament, with the final round to begin later in the day.

Koepka made three gains on the way home, including a birdie at the last, to hit the front in the race for the lucrative FedEx Cup.

There was plenty of company for Koepka, though, with Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy just one stroke back.

Schauffele made the first professional hole-in-one of his career at the par-three ninth as part of a three-under 67, while McIlroy's 68 means the Northern Irishman is well in contention.

Justin Thomas was leading when the weather halted play on Saturday, but the American was four shots back after signing for a 71.

He was in a tie for fourth with Paul Casey, while the likes of Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama at six under surely have too much work to do.

Justin Thomas retook the Tour Championship lead but he was not able to finish his third round as lightning strikes injured six spectators.

Saturday's play was ultimately suspended due to inclement weather after lightning struck East Lake Golf Course in DeKalb County, Georgia.

The PGA Tour confirmed that a pair of lightning strikes had left spectators injured. However, their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Thomas was through five holes and leading by a stroke when play was halted on the penultimate day of the FedEx Cup Play-off decider.

The 2017 FedEx Cup champion, who entered the season-ending event 10 under via the new format, was off to a steady start Saturday.

Thomas – the BMW Championship winner – was even par through his first five holes and 12 under overall for the tournament, ahead of Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.

The 10-time tour champion will resume play with the rest of the field on Sunday for the remainder of round three and the start of the fourth round.

Former world number one McIlroy and four-time major champion Koepka are tied for second and lurking at 11 under.

McIlroy – winner of the FedEx Cup in 2016 – was one over after five holes, while Koepka made it to two over before the weather hit.

Koepka earned a one-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the tournament on Friday, but the world number one made sloppy start to Saturday's play following two bogeys in three holes.

Xander Schauffele (through five) sits in solo fourth at 10 under, a shot clear of Chez Reavie (through seven) and Paul Casey (through six).

Dustin Johnson managed to finish his third round, but the American star carded a forgettable five-over-par 75 to be seven over and 29th in the 30-man field.

Brooks Koepka has been baffled by negative responses to him posing for a nude photograph and thinks modern golfers are held to unfair standards.

Four-time major champion Koepka posted an image from his photo shoot for ESPN's Body Issue prior to the start of the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The 29-year-old moved into a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas after two rounds in the race for the FedEx Cup and $15million in prize money.

However, Koepka has been the butt of jokes and while he was able to see the funny side of the photo being placed over the signage for his parking space – apparently by Dustin Johnson – he questioned certain reactions he has seen on social media.

Koepka said: "I've gotten a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram [asking]: 'How in the world could you do this? You never see Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus and guys like that doing that.'

"It blows my mind; golf is the only sport where you're compared to guys from other generations and how they acted, not where they are on the golf course. Golf is pretty weird that way.

"If they had social media back then, I think it would be a lot different for them, too.

"I couldn't care less what people say online. If you've got people hating you, you're doing something right."

Brooks Koepka insisted he was not yet at his best despite moving into the Tour Championship lead at the halfway mark.

The American world number one carded a three-under 67 in the second round at East Lake to push into a one-stroke lead on Friday.

Koepka, who birdied the final hole to take the outright lead, said he was getting close to his best.

"I feel better. I don't feel like I'm clicking 100 per cent, but it's definitely close," he told reporters after his round.

"There are shots where it's like, 'how did I just do that?' And there are some shots where I'm like, 'man, why can't I do that every time?' Like on 18.

"I feel good. I feel very confident. I've got no problem where I'm at. I feel very confident with the putter, which is most important."

Play was delayed for 90 minutes during the second round due to inclement weather before Koepka finished the day at 13 under – a shot ahead of Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy.

Koepka was one of only five players to manage a round of 67 or better and the American was satisfied with his performance.

"The lead's always nice, so I'll take that. I played good today. I putted really good. Short game was pretty solid," he said.

"The rain delay kind of killed any momentum I had. I didn't feel like I had any good golf shots after the rain delay, but that's part of golf.

"Everybody's got to deal with the same thing, just didn't execute."

Brooks Koepka pushed into a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Tour Championship on Friday.

The world number one carded a three-under 67 during the second round at East Lake, getting to 13 under and into the lead ahead of Justin Thomas (68) and Rory McIlroy (67).

Scoring was very difficult as only five players managed rounds of 67 or better, highlighted by Chez Reavie's six-under 64.

Koepka finished his round with a birdie at 18 to move one shot clear, having picked up shots from holes six through eight before bogeying the 13th.

Thomas, who was first in the standings to begin the FedEx Cup tournament, has struggled to find a rhythm through the first two rounds and has seen his two-shot lead disappear through 36 holes.

His bogey at the 17th dropped him out of the lead on his own but he was able to go into the clubhouse tied with McIlroy and Koepka.

However, the world number one's birdie at 18 was enough to get him out in front for the tournament.

McIlroy followed up his opening-round 66 with a three-under 67, which included a birdie despite ending up in the trees off the tee at 18.

Xander Schauffele (69) is fourth at 11 under, two shots ahead of Paul Casey (67) and four clear of Patrick Cantlay (71) as the top five threaten to pull clear.

Reavie is at six under alongside Patrick Reed (70) and Matt Kuchar (72) and produced a brilliant ace on the par-three ninth.

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