Matthew Wolff has responded to “heartbreaking” criticism from Brooks Koepka after the US PGA champion said he had “given up” on his LIV teammate.
Relations are known to have been strained between Koepka and Wolff, who both represent Smash Golf Club on the LIV circuit, since words were exchanged at an event in Washington in May. Wolff, who withdrew before the final round of that tournament, sits 25th in LIV’s individual standings .
In an interview with Sports Illustrated here on Thursday, Koepka unloaded on Wolff. “I mean, when you quit on your round, you give up and stuff like that, that’s not competing,” said Koepka, the Smash captain. “I’m not a big fan of that. You don’t work hard. It’s very tough to have a team dynamic when you’ve got one guy that won’t work, one guy is not going to give any effort, he’s going to quit on the course, break clubs, gets down, bad body language, it’s very tough. I’ve basically given up on him. A lot of talent, but I mean the talent is wasted.”
Wolff, 24, was once regarded as one of American golf’s finest prospects. Two years ago, he opened up on psychological struggles which affected him to the point he did not want to get out of bed. In a statement issued before round one of the LIV tournament at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, Wolff said: “I read the SI interview with our captain Brooks Koepka and it was beyond disappointing to me.
“When I chose to join his team in 2023, I did so with much optimism about my new home as part of Team Smash and equally as important the chance to be around and learn from a player of Brooks’s stature. Like everyone who has played the game at the highest level, I have had competitive moments in the past that I feel I have let myself down and even others in our new team environment. This has been quite difficult for me. My challenges on and off the golf course with my mental health have been well documented. I deal with those challenges every day.
“While my 2023 season has not been all I had hoped for to this point, I have made positive strides in managing my life and feel like my game is turning for the positive. To hear through the media that our team leader has given up on me is heartbreaking. It’s not what a team member looks to hear from its leader, and I think we all know these comments should have been handled much differently.”
LIV’s rules mean there has been no scope for Wolff to change teams mid-season. A switch at the end of this year is inevitable.
Koepka and Wolff both opened with over-par rounds at Centurion. Koepka’s 72 bettered Wolff by one. Cameron Smith ramped up his preparations for his Open defence at Royal Liverpool by topping the leaderboard with an eight-under-par 63.