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Koepka right to dismiss rivalry: McIlroy

 

Worlds collide: Rory McIlroy, Brian O’Driscoll, Mike Tindall and Tiger Woods watch a tee-shot hit by Bryan Habana in Japan
Worlds collide: Rory McIlroy, Brian O’Driscoll, Mike Tindall and Tiger Woods watch a tee-shot hit by Bryan Habana in Japan

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy has conceded that Brooks Koepka "wasn't wrong" when he dismissed the idea of a big rivalry between the pair.

Speaking ahead of his title defence at last week's CJ Cup in South Korea, World No.1 Koepka was asked about his rivalry with McIlroy and said: "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 don't view it as a rivalry."

The last of McIlroy's four Majors came in the 2014 US PGA Championship, since when Koepka has won the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and the US PGA in 2018 and 2019.

Koepka was second in The Masters and US Open this year and fourth in The Open at Royal Portrush, where McIlroy missed the cut on home soil.

"What Brooks said wasn't wrong," said McIlroy. "He's been the best player in the world the last couple years - four Majors.

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

"I love Brooks, he's a great guy. 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."

Jason Day, meanwhile, saw off rivals including Tiger Woods and McIlroy to win the inaugural Japan Skins Challenge in Chiba.

Day picked up four skins on what proved to be the decisive 17th hole to finish with a total of eight, ahead of Woods on five, McIlroy's four, and one for local favourite Hideki Matsuyama.

His victory meant Day picked up $180k (£140k) on the final two holes to claim a total of $210k (£160k) in prize money.

The quartet were joined by rugby legends Brian O'Driscoll, Mike Tindall, Bryan Habana and George Gregan for a hole.

McIlroy said: "It was still quite competitive out there. It was great to be a part of something like this in Japan, and a great way to kick off the week."

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