Rory McIlroy believes his rivalry with Brooks Koepka is 'good for the game'

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Rory McIlroy believes his rivalry with Brooks Koepka is 'good for the game'

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy believes his rivalry with Brooks Koepka is 'good for the game'

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Much has been written about the growing rivalry between Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, particularly in light of last week’s PGA Tour Player of the Year announcement.

McIlroy, a little more than three weeks removed from his $15 million FedEx Cup victory, addresses the rivalry that has been ramped up by the PGA Tour, the media and the fans. In his latest GOLFPASS podcast with Carson Daly released Monday, McIlroy admits he relishes the chance to be compared to the current World No. 1.

“Brooks has been undoubtedly the best player in the world for the last couple years. I’ve been lucky that my career and my consistency level has been good for the last 10,” McIlroy said. “I feel like they’ve tried to create a rivalry between myself and Tiger, myself and Jordan (Spieth), myself and Dustin (Johnson), myself and Brooks, myself and Jason Day.

“It’s nice there’s a common denominator and it’s usually me, which means that I’m doing something right.”

McIlroy admits he tried to conjure up a rivalry mentality with Koepka during the Tour Championship at East Lake, “because he dusted me in Memphis” at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude. Paired in the final group with Koepka in Memphis, McIlroy held a one-shot lead entering the final round but shot a 71 on Sunday. Koepka shot a bogey-free 65 and won by three shots. McIlroy finished five back.

“I needed that mentality going into East Lake because, you know, there was a little bit of revenge in there. He talked about trying to be the dominant player in the game and that was said to me in the media and I said, ‘He’s going to have to go through me first.’

“If that’s both of our mentalities going forward, I think that’s good for the game.”

Daly responded, “I love that. That’s what you should say. If you didn’t say that, you’ve got a problem. As a fan, that’s what you want to see.”

Daly asked McIlroy if he and Koepka talked much inside the ropes when they went head-to-head at East Lake.

“There was chit chat in Memphis. We were cordial and he again was playing great, I coudn’t get anything going. I purposely tried not talk to him much in Atlanta. I tried to do my own thing, stay in my own world. We’d obviously say ‘good shot,’ do all that stuff you’re supposed to do in golf.

“I don’t think we had one conversation. Like I said, it was big stakes. He felt like he was the best player of the year and he wanted to finish it off by winning the season-long championship. I wanted to finish off my season on a positive note. That’s sport.”

Daly noted that while there wasn’t much conversation between McIlroy and Koepka on Sunday in Atlanta, did ESPN’s Body Issue come up?

“Were you a little jealous?” Daly asked.

Not one bit, McIlroy replied, adding that he was asked to do the Body Issue in 2015.

“I don’t have the balls that Brooks has to do that. I can hardly stand in front of myself naked, I don’t know if I can stand in front of 50 people.”

McIlroy is playing in this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour at Wentworth Golf Club.

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