'He didn't have to remind me': Rory McIlroy laughs off Brooks Koepka rivalry comments
Rory McIlroy's love for Brooks Koepka has not been impacted by the world number one's recent rejection of any notion of a rivalry.
Last week, Koepka had said that he 'doesn't see' his relationship with his Northern Irish counterpart in that way.
The duo went head-to-head as the final pairing in the last round of the TOUR Championship in August. McIlroy ended up winning whileplaying partner limped to joint third, five shots back.
"I wanted to get some revenge as Brooks got one over me in Memphis," McIlroy said afterwards, referencing the July World Golf Championship when it was McIlroy who finished five behind Koepka after the pair played together in the last group.
With McIlroy now in the prime overtaking place in the official world golf rankings though, Brooks shot the rivalry suggestion down.
"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour," he said, some picking up the comments as a jibe. "Look, I love Rory. He's a great player and he's fun to watch, but it's just hard to believe there's a rivalry in golf. I just don't see it."
Predictably, it was put to McIlroy during The Challenge Japan Skins match on Monday but the world number two wasn't up for taking any bait.
"What Brooks said wasn't wrong. He's the best player in the world for the last four years. He's won four majors - I don't think he had to remind me that I hadn't won one," he laughed.
"I love Brooks. He's a great guy. He's obviously super competitive like we all are. I can see where he's coming from. We're out here, we can't control anyone else. We just have to play our own golf.
"I said a couple of things after the Tour Championship in terms of I approached that final round like a little bit of a rivalry because he got one over on me on Memphis and I sort of wanted to get him back. I think that's good for the game.
"I think it's hard. We all get asked in press conferences about other players. I've had it where it's 'why are these guys asking me about someone else are we not supposed to be here to talk about me?'
"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 and I've been really happy for him to see how good he's played and I'm sure he'll continue to do so."
McIlroy will tee it up in competitive action on Thursday as the first Zozo Championship gets under way in Japan.
Belfast Telegraph Digital