Collin Morikawa has firmly dismissed reports that he is the next big name in golf to join the controversial LIV Golf Tour, with the Open champion insisting he is ‘here to stay on the PGA Tour.’
Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka was the latest player to join the Saudi breakaway tour, following in the footsteps of fellow Americans Bryan DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.
Reports then transpired on Tuesday of last year’s Open winner Morikawa joining the tour, but in an amusing statement on Twitter, the 25-year-old dismissed the rumours.
‘Just your #11 money winner on PIP here to say good morning to everyone! Last week at my press conference, I said the media loves creating drama,’ said World No 4 Morikawa.
‘Sure enough, I woke up this morning to everyone thinking I’m next. Not to say I told you so but…I told you so.
‘To state for the record, once again, you all are absolutely wrong. I’ve said it since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the PGA Tour and nothing has changed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cereal to pour in my milk.’
Koepka – who has earned £30.8million ($37.9m) in career prize money to date – will have commanded a seven-figure fee to sign up, similar to that of Dustin Johnson, who received a £120m ($150m) up-front fee.
Collin Morikawa dismissed reports that he is the next big name in golf to join the LIV Golf Tour
Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka was the latest player to join the Saudi breakaway tour
Notably Koepka – who has won the US Open twice and the US PGA twice – removed ‘PGA Tour/Nike Athlete’ from his bio on Twitter last night.
Koepka will, according to The Telegraph, be announced as a new member of the Series ahead of the second event at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon, next week.
For now, Kopeka remains in the official field for the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour this week, as defectors to LIV have so far not been suspended by the PGA Tour until they have hit shots at a LIV event.
Ahead of last week’s US Open at Brookline, former world No 1 Koepka hit back when questioned about the Saudi-backed tour, insisting reporters were casting a ‘black cloud’ over the tournament.
‘I don’t understand. I’m trying to focus on the US Open, man. I legitimately don’t get it. I’m tired of the conversations. I’m tired of all this stuff,’ he said.
Koepka – pictured with wife, actress Jena Sims – has earned $37.9million in career prize money
‘I’m here at the US Open, I’m ready to play the US Open, and I think it kind of sucks, too, you are all throwing this black cloud over the US Open. It’s one of my favourite events. I don’t know why you guys keep doing that.
‘The more legs you give it, the more you keep talking about it.’
And back in February, when Phil Mickelson was criticising the PGA Tour’s control of media rights as rumours swirled of his involvement with the Saudi-backed tour, Koepka called out what he saw as hypocrisy from his fellow American.
Mickelson said: ‘They [PGA Tour] also charge companies to use shots I have hit. And when I did “The Match” — there have been five of them — the tour forced me to pay them $1million each time. For my own media rights. That type of greed is, to me, beyond obnoxious.’
Then, Koepka replied to the quotes on Instagram saying: ‘I don’t know if I’d be using the word greedy if I’m Phil.’
According to the PGA Tour website, Koepka has earned $37.9million in career prize money to date. He is currently ranked No 19 in the world having suffered from a succession of injuries in recent years.
Mickelson was criticised as he took part in LIV Golf’s first event in St Albans earlier this month
Dustin Johnson was the highest-ranked name to play in the inaugural LIV Golf event this month
Players signing up to the LIV series have received criticism and have been widely condemned because of the human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi regime, which is financing LIV to the tune of $2billion.
Johnson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia are among the other star names who have signed up to LIV Golf and they all played in the tour’s inaugural event at Centurion Club earlier this month, won by 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Schwartzel took home £3.2m in prize money for his win at the 54-hole event, which is more than the £2.5m won by England’s Matt Fitzpatrick for triumphing at the US Open, one of golf’s traditional and most prestigious four major championships.
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have also signed up to the controversial Saudi-backed tour
On Monday, LIV Golf chief Greg Norman hit back at critics of the Saudi-backed series and slammed the PGA Tour for its ‘deafening’ hypocrisy.
The PGA Tour banned rebel players with immediate effect moments after they teed off at Centurion earlier this month.
Meanwhile, famed US sports broadcaster Bob Costas described the huge cheques on offer to players – the first seven events have $20million purses – as ‘blood money’.
Former world No 1 Norman, 67, decided to speak out as the US Open drew to a close on Sunday.
‘I’m disappointed people go down that [blood money] path, quite honestly,’ Norman told Fox News.
LIV Golf chief Greg Norman has hit back at critics of the Saudi-backed breakaway series
The 67-year-old pictured with inaugural LIV Golf Invitational winner Charl Schwartzel
‘Look, if they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors doing 40-plus billion dollars’ worth of business with Saudi Arabia?
‘Why is it okay for the sponsors? Why is it okay that there’s a Saudi sponsor, Aramco, the largest sponsor of women’s golf in the world? Why is it okay for them? Why is it not okay for these players?
‘Will [PGA Tour commissioner] Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them?
‘The hypocrisy in all this, it’s so loud. It’s deafening.’