Golf

Brooks Koepka's tensions with teammate bubble over at LIV finale

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Brooks Koepka has arrived at the LIV team championships in Miami.
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At this point, it’s safe to say that Brooks Koepka and Matthew Wolff will not be exchanging Christmas cards.
In fact, as we approach the season-ending LIV Golf team championships in Miami this weekend, it would count as something of a surprise if they even exchanged scorecards.
Yes, the Wolff/Koepka drama has been one of the most intriguing subplots of this LIV Golf season — and if you’ve been too busy paying attention to golf’s great war to pay attention to this admittedly petty Cold War, well, let’s catch you up.
At the beginning of this year, Koepka acquired Wolff to his LIV Golf franchise, Smash GC, with the hope that the young golfer would blossom into a star under his tutelage. The two golfers shared clothing sponsorships with Nike and had overlapped in similar circles in the years preceding the formation of LIV. At the time of his acquisition, Wolff’s game appeared to be headed in the right direction. He had struggled through some dark times on the PGA Tour and in his first season with LIV with Phil Mickelson’s HyFlyers, but a handful of strong finishes, including a runner-up at the 2020 U.S. Open, served as evidence of a star skillset that needed molding. And what better person to learn from than a five-time major champ like Koepka?
As best we know, the beef between the two golfers started sometime around LIV’s Washington D.C. event in May, a tournament that ended in a Wolff WD. Wolff, a one-time prodigy who has been candid about the mental health struggles that have come with the pressures of playing pro golf, pulled out of the tournament after shooting 6 over on Saturday. Evidently that frustrated Koepka, whose Smash GC were left shorthanded during Sunday’s final round en route to a last-place finish in that weekend’s team competition.
That weekend, Smash GC pulled Wolff off its marketing material, and Koepka gave an interview to Sports Illustrated blasting his teammate for what he perceived as lacking effort and commitment.
I’ve basically given up on him,” Koepka said then. “A lot of talent, but I mean the talent’s wasted.”
The months since that interaction have yielded very little from the two golfers. Koepka has neglected to say much beyond his strikingly candid interview with SI, watching as his Smash GC has fallen into eighth place out of 12 teams. Meanwhile, Wolff’s on-course struggles have piled up to the tune of four over-par finishes in six starts.
It seemed as though the season would fade quietly into the rearview, leaving both sides the chance to get a fresh start in the new year. But then came last weekend’s LIV event in Jeddah, when Koepka was asked about the state of his team heading into the team championships … and elected to fire another broadside.
“There’s only three of us on our team,” he said, obviously alluding to Wolff’s recent struggles and ostracization from the team. “I mean, obviously, my brother, I’m pretty tight with him and then — I’ve enjoyed being around Jay [Kokrak] for the last — I’ve been pretty close with Jay for maybe the last three years.”
Those words came across as a surprise to the media in attendance, so much so that nobody bothered to follow up with another question. That is, until Thursday morning in Miami, when Koepka stepped in front of the lectern.
Doral represented a unique opportunity for Koepka and Wolff to mend fences. As the home of LIV’s team championship, Koepka would be responsible for pairing up his four players into two singles matches and an alternate shot match. If Smash won two of three matches against the Hyflyers, they would advance to the next round of the league’s team championship. In short, Brooks would need everyone on board, especially after he’d paired Wolff with his brother, Chase — leaving himself and Jason Kokrak to play singles matches.
Finally, as the questions about the team championship faded, a reporter asked Koepka directly about his relationship with Wolff. If the pair had made amends, it sure didn’t sound like it.
“It’s the same thing as every week,” Brooks said, sounding irritated. “He’s only in control of what he can do.”
The reporter followed up. Had Brooks offered any advice for his team’s youngest player this week?
“No, I don’t have much interaction with him.”
Did Koepka feel it was important for him to be close with Wolff, considering they’re still teammates?
“I’ve tried. I’ve spent a majority of the beginning of the year trying to help and trying to figure that out, and I think it’s past its point,” he said. “I’ve tried, I’ve been very open with it.”
Then, as he punctuated his final point, Koepka offered his most damning criticism to date.
“Sometimes you can’t help people that don’t want help.”
In other words, it may be a situation beyond salvaging for both sides. But does that mean the fireworks are over?
We’ve got three days left in the season to find out.

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.
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