LIV Golf hoped Koepka’s major win would kickstart their revolution but it’s the same old story in DC
With a fifth major win in the form of his third PGA Championship triumph, $3.1 million in prize money and adoring fans, Brooks Koepka was flying high five days ago. How far and how fast must he now feel that he has fallen.
For all the furore and controversy, tit-for-tat and digs between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, as with The Masters, the alleged bitterness between the two warring factions did not come out of the mouthpieces of the media and the courthouse on the job at the PGA Championship.
Koepka was welcomed with open arms. A champion who was embraced as respectful spectators by the hundreds of thousands of Oak Hill fans, despite the stray shouts of “sell out,” showered him with the praise he rightfully deserved on the 18th green.
But after a week of parading the Wanamaker trophy in South Florida, it was a reality for Koepka again.
The winner of the 2023 PGA Championship did not fight world champions Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm again. Instead, at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C., he was back with his rebellious cohort of brother Chase, Jason Kokrak, and Matt Wolff in the LIV Golf series.
Brooks Koepka won his fifth major last week with his third PGA Championship win
It was a reality for the American again five days later when he returned to the LIV Golf circuit
And while the fans were just as excited to see him play, they had shrunk considerably – a big difference from the thousands who gathered last week.
The majority of spectators, of course, flocked to Koepka on the driving range to catch a glimpse of the 2023 American PGA winner’s warm-up.
Similarly, Koepka’s group featuring himself, Open champion Cam Smith and Dustin Johnson had drawn the largest crowd around their tee box on the first start of the controversial breakaway.
Then again, this could hardly be a mob compared to last week’s hordes. Barely two rows deep and barely past the tee box, about 100 people watched as Koepka began his campaign to continue his major-winning form into another week.
Most claimed they had always planned to come to LIV this weekend for the standard reasons; they happened to live close by, or it was an excuse to see professionals up close. They certainly didn’t have to battle a mob this week to fight their way to the front of the ropes.
In fact, many onlookers said they weren’t even there for Koepka. Some cited Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, or better yet, Donald Trump, as the names that drew them to the outskirts of the nation’s capital.
The LIV Golf spectacle had seemingly drawn the usual numbers for the usual reasons. And what a spectacle or, perhaps more appropriately, fanfare it was.
The 33-year-old greeted a group of kids wearing Smash GC – his team – t-shirts
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman had greeted Kopeka with a number 5 balloon before the tournament
Unsurprisingly, Trump made his way to the center of attention, waving to his loyal subjects from his golf cart, with more pursuit of the former president and his motorcade of about 15 golf carts as he left the range than those who followed Koepka on the way to the first tee.
And as Koepka, Smith, and Johnson waited on the tee box, the array of patrons oohed and ahhed at the Frog-X Parachute Team descending with the Star-Spangled Banner and LIV Golf flag in unison.
All the while, the music boomed down the track, a sustained thump of heavy beats and even an upbeat remix of Oasis’s Don’t Look Back In Anger – a message Greg Norman has to heed.
But maybe LIV felt the need to blare the tunes, because the cheers certainly didn’t set the mood. Ian Poulter’s attempt to stir up the crowd as he entered the training ground was met with faint derision and the tee announcer also failed to ‘get some noise in the capital’.
It held no light to the boisterous crowds of upstate New York who had celebrated Koepka five days ago and even high-fives and fist-pumping club pro Michael Block, who ironically was the one who appeared on the PGA Tour this week instead of the big winner.
While Block was back on the television screens, Koepka was not. The week after a newly crowned grand winner — a five-time grand winner no less — was on the books, the breakaway couldn’t even show him off on national television.
Former President Donald Trump was once again the center of attention
The 45th President of the United States was followed by a motorcade of about 15 golf carts
On the morning of the first round in DC, LIV announced it was returning to its YouTube coverage. The Saudi-backed breakaway tried to sell it as an attempt to provide even more cover for its fans, but it smacked of decline as the PGA Tour rival returned to where it started in 2022.
LIV’s multi-year revenue-sharing agreement with the CW Network, which it closed in January, is still in effect, meaning viewers in the US, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will have to pay $3 a day to watch the tournament on YouTube to protect the circuit’s existing broadcast deals.
But coverage of the CW, which has seen ratings drop just 24 percent week over week, was limited to the app for Friday’s roundup, while Saturday and Sunday would be lucky enough to see both the linear and digital platforms of the CW. reach network.
What Norman and his gang of merry men had no doubt hoped would be a turning point for the LIV revolution turned out to be nothing but another flop, with even a 2023 Grand Champion not big enough to be a magnet.