Azinger doubts Koepka's Cup desire

LOS ANGELES • Four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka insisted that he is "good to go" for the Ryder Cup, even as former United States captain Paul Azinger questioned his commitment.

The American pulled out of the PGA's Tour Championship this month after hurting his left wrist hitting out of the rough.

But in comments to Golf Week on Wednesday, he said he would be ready to tee it up in the biennial USA v Europe matchplay showdown at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin next week.

"I'll be there. I'm good to go," he told the magazine via text message. "I'm feeling good. Been doing my rehab, doing everything I need to do to be ready for the Cup. I'll be there ready to play."

But the world No. 10 had raised eyebrows with comments in a Golf Digest interview in which he indicated the team format of the Ryder Cup might not be for him.

"It's a bit odd, if I'm honest," he said. "I don't want to say it's a bad week. But we're just so individualised, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it's like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that.

"There are times where I'm like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?

"I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot... That's new, and you have to change the way you think about things."

While many Ryder Cup players are enthusiastic about the chance to play as a team for a change, Koepka seemed to bemoan the fact that the structure is "so far from my normal routine", having to deal with distractions such as photo opportunities, meetings and team building.

"I can barely see my (personal) team. It's hard to even go to the gym," he added.

Azinger, who captained the US to victory in the 2008 Ryder Cup, had no time for that attitude, when he spoke to reporters on an NBC Sports/Golf Channel conference call.

"Brooks, when I just read that article, I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said.

"If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

Koepka contributed three points from four matches on his debut as the US won 17-11 at Hazeltine in 2016 and 1 ½ points in defeat at Le Golf National in 2018 as Europe won in Paris.

Separately, the former world No. 1 also said that time is on his side in his bid to catch Tiger Woods (15 Majors) - or even Jack Nicklaus (18 Majors).

"In my mind, I'm going to catch (Woods) on Majors. I believe that. I don't see any reason that can stop me," he told Golf Digest.

"I'm 31. I have another 14 years left. If I win one a year, I got Jack. People misconstrue that as being cocky. No, that's just my belief. If I don't have that belief, I shouldn't be out there."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2021, with the headline 'Azinger doubts Koepka's Cup desire'. Subscribe