Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm bail on shaky Premier Golf League

Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm bail on shaky Premier Golf League

With each day, it’s looking like the Premier Golf League, the proposed rival to the PGA Tour, never will get off the ground.

At the very least, the prospect of the Premier Golf League is becoming less “premier’’ by the day as one star after the next has distanced himself from it.

First it was Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1-ranked player in the world, telling reporters a month ago in Mexico, “I’m out.’’

Then came Brooks Koepka, the No. 1-ranked player before McIlroy took it from him and now No. 3, telling the Associated Press on Sunday that he, too, is “out.’’

The latest among the PGA Tour stars to follow are Jon Rahm, the current No. 2-ranked player, and Bubba Watson. Rahm, on Sunday told Golfweek his plan was to remain a member of the PGA Tour. Watson delivered his allegiance to the PGA Tour via Twitter.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks KoepkaGetty Images

So, to review: The current top-three ranked players in the world rankings are not interested in the PGL. If this keeps up, there will be no one left for the league to recruit.

“I am out of the PGL; I’m going with the PGA Tour,’’ Koepka said. “I have a hard time believing golf should be about just 48 players.’’

A big element to the PGL’s plan was a 54-hole tournament format with fields of 48 of the top players in the world in an effort to weed out the Tour’s middle and lower class and with total prize money of more than $200 million.

Fields in most of the PGA Tour events range from about 120 to 156.

“I get that the stars are what people come to see, but these guys who we see win, who have been grinding for 10 or 15 years, that’s what makes the cool stories,’’ Koepka said. “I’d have a hard time looking at guys and putting them out of a job.’’

It wasn’t long ago that Koepka was one of the back-end players, struggling his way through the Challenge Tour in Europe in 2012 and eventually earning his European Tour card before making it to the PGA Tour with his first win in 2015.

“I don’t forget where I’ve come from,’’ Koepka said.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in recent weeks has communicated with his top players to gauge their respective interest in the PGL, and he’s made it clear to them that anyone who committed to the league would no longer be able to play the PGA Tour.

Monahan, in a press conference at last week’s The Players Championship, sounded more confident than ever in his product as he announced a media rights deal said to be worth a little more than $7 billion over the next nine years.

Koepka said he made up his mind about the PGL after meeting with its organizers last month during the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, and he preferred to wait for a time to announce his intentions when his announcement wouldn’t become a distraction.

With the PGA Tour suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, he decided now was the time.

“I plan on playing the PGA Tour for the rest of my life,’’ Koepka said.

So, too, does Rahm.

“I’m a PGA Tour member and I’m going to stay that way,’’ Rahm said. “Hopefully, I have a long career ahead on the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour has done such a great job with what we have and I’m really thankful for what they’ve done.”

Watson, the two-time Masters winner, chimed in on Twitter, posting: “Like @Bkoepka @McIlroyRory my loyalty is with the @PGATOUR. The way Jay Monahan and the Tour have handled the current situation makes me proud to be a member! One of many reasons I want to play on this Tour for the rest of my career #PGATour #ProudMember’’

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