In what may be the first shots fired between golf’s two big guns, Brooks Koepka insists he does not see Rory McIlroy as a rival as he’s not won a major during Koepka’s time on the PGA Tour.
World number one Koepka has been the dominant force in golf’s majors over the last couple of years, and has equalled McIlroy’s tally for four thanks to back-to-back wins at both the US Open and PGA Championship.
Koepka finished in the top four of all four majors this year, and all of his four victories came over a spell of just eight majors as he regularly dominated the rest of the field.
Despite not winning a major since 2014, McIlroy also had a successful season this year, winning The PLAYERS Championship and also scooping a second FedEx Cup title – where he said he used a rivalry mentality with Koepka to ensure he came out on top.
Koepka, though, downplayed that talk and insisted that the world number two was not a rival due to his recent record in major championships.
"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka told AFP ahead of his defence of the CJ Cup in South Korea.
"I'm not looking at anybody behind me,” he added.
"I'm number one in the world. I've got open road in front of me I'm not looking in the rear view mirror, so I don't see it as a rivalry.
"You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that's on them and it could be fun.
"Look I love Rory he's a great player and he's fun to watch, but it's just hard to believe there's a rivalry in golf. I just don't see it."
The golfing world is desperate to see two players fighting it out and forging a true great rivalry, and the top two in the world have proved that they can be impossible to beat on their day – and they certainly have the high-powered game to excite fans around the world.
Koepka has talked previously about feeling superior to the rest of the field in majors, and that dominating mentality has been talked about as the reason for his continued success in the biggest tournaments.
McIlroy stoked the fires first after his victory at TOUR Championship at East Lake, saying:
"He talked about trying to be the dominant player in the game ... and I thought: 'He's going to have to go through me first'.
"If that's both of our mentalities going forward, I think that's good for the game."
Everyone will have their own views on who is the better player, but everyone will now just be keen to see how the two players react when they are paired together next.
McIlroy and Koepka will collide next in the HSBC-WGC Championship in Shanghai at the end of October.