Dustin Johnson threw a bucket of cold water on his feud with Brooks Koepka.
Instead of stoking the flames after Koepka had delivered a dig at him during the PGA Championship — heading into the final round, Koepka said he liked his chances against the competition, including the leader Johnson, who had “only won one” major — the easy-going Johnson shrugged it off.
“It doesn’t matter,” Johnson told reporters Thursday after shooting a 4-under 67 in the first round of the Northern Trust at TPC Boston. “It doesn’t bother me. He can think whatever he wants.”
While Johnson didn’t want to give Koepka’s jab any more life — at least not publicly — other golfers came to his defense in the immediate aftermath.
“I heard the interview and was just sort of taken aback a little bit by sort of what he said and whether he was trying to play mind games or not,” Rory McIlroy said on the final day of the PGA Championship. “If he’s trying to play mind games, he’s trying to do it to the wrong person. I don’t think DJ really gives much of a concern [about] that.
“I certainly try to respect everyone out here. Everyone is a great player. If you’ve won a major championship, you’re a hell of a player. Doesn’t mean you’ve only won one. You’ve won one, and you’ve had to do a lot of good things to do that. I mean, sort of hard to knock a guy [Johnson] that’s got 21 wins on the PGA Tour, which is three times what Brooks has.”
McIlroy was correct that Johnson didn’t put too much thought into Koepka’s diss, though neither went on to win the PGA Championship. Koepka shot a four-over in the final round to finish 10 strokes off the lead while Johnson shot a two-under but had to settle for third place as Collin Morikawa caught fire and won his first major.
Koepka, who has won four major championships, later admitted some regret over his comment, though not the part about Johnson. Instead he pointed to talking about the rest of the players atop the leaderboard as “other guys up there” that he didn’t know.
“I regret that part of it. That’s what I was trying to say — that I didn’t know who was on the leaderboard at that point because I hadn’t looked,” Koepka told Golfweek. “That part I regret and I wish I had used different words because I didn’t pay enough attention to who was under Dustin because he was my main focus.”
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