LIV stars say nothing major to prove at PGA Championship

·3-min read
LIV Golf League stars Dustin Johnson, left, and Brooks Koepka, right, of the United States wait during a practice round at Oak Hill ahead of the PGA Championship
LIV Golf League stars Dustin Johnson, left, and Brooks Koepka, right, of the United States wait during a practice round at Oak Hill ahead of the PGA Championship

Dustin Johnson says LIV Golf stars have nothing to prove at this week's PGA Championship and that was true before three players finished in the top six at the Masters.

Two-time major champion Johnson is among 16 players from the Saudi-financed breakaway series who will compete this week at Oak Hill, six of them past major winners.

Record $25 million purses helped LIV attract big names from the PGA Tour when it debuted last June, the tour banning those who departed. The feud is set for a trial next May.

"I would hope at some point we can all co-exist and work together," Johnson said. "That would be nice."

In the meantime, the majors are the only place where PGA Tour and LIV players compete.

Any concern LIV's 54-hole events and lighter schedule might hurt stars were answered when Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson shared second behind Masters winner Jon Rahm last month at Augusta National.

But for Johnson, a past Masters champion who won last week's LIV event in Tulsa, that wasn't a worry.

"I've proven myself out here for a long enough time where to me I don't need to keep proving myself," said Johnson.

"I already have for many years. Same with all the other guys. Where we play at, it doesn't change the style of golfer we are."

Mickelson is a six-time major winner. Koepka claims four major triumphs. Australia's Cameron Smith is the reigning British Open champion.

And Johnson could become the first player since Rory McIlroy in 2014 to win the PGA Championship after a triumph the week before.

"Nice coming off a win," Johnson said. "Still playing against unbelievably good golfers. The scores the last few tournaments we played were a lot lower than I thought they would be.

"You've got to play well every single day if you want a chance to win. Played really solid all three days. Driving it well, controlling the distance with the irons, starting to wedge it a lot better, and then rolled in a few putts."

Koepka said he has learned lessons from losing the lead early in the final round at the Masters, although he kept details to himself.

"I didn't sleep Sunday night just trying to figure out what exactly it was," Koepka said. "Thought about it for a few days after and really honed in on what I was doing and what went wrong.

"From there just never let it happen again. That's the whole goal. You're not trying to dwell on it. Yeah, it sucks to finish second, but at the same time, as long as you learn from it, you'll be fine."

- Learning from 'choking' -

Koepka, with 13 top-five finishes in 35 major starts, can live with "choking" if he can improve from it.

"If you have a lead and cough it up, that's choking," Koepka said. "But at the same time, I'm not dwelling on it.

"I've been in the lead a couple of times and haven't capitalized. I can't do it every single time. I'm not perfect. As long as I can learn from it, I'll be better off from it."

Koepka says that for all the foes he will face in the field of 156, there are only about a dozen he says he must outscore to capture another major trophy.

"When you look at the major leaderboards over the last five, six years, it's pretty repetitive on the guys who are at the top," he said.