The team format of LIV Golf always held the potential for rifts forming between teammates. Rivalries emerging among teams would be ideal for the drama and theatrics of sport, teammates beefing has come to light instead. It all began during an interview with Sports Illustrated in which team captain Brooks Koepka slammed his Smash GC counterpart Matthew Wolff ahead of LIV Golf London at the Centurion Club.
“I mean, when you quit on your round, you give up and stuff like that, that’s not competing,” said Koepka. “I’m not a big fan of that. You don’t work hard. It’s very tough. It’s very tough to have even like 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’s wasted.”
Wolff’s transition from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf began in encouraging fashion. Making his debut at LIV Golf Portland, Wolff finished T8 before garnering a runner-up result at LIV Golf Bedminster in only his second start. He added a top-five finish at LIV Golf Jeddah; however, those quality outings came as a member of Phil Mickelson’s Hy Flyers, not Koepka’s Smash GC.
This season has been much more difficult for the 24-year-old Smash GC member. The former PGA Tour winner has not finished inside the top 30 in his last five tournaments and withdrew before the final round of LIV Golf DC due to an undisclosed injury. Wolff’s presence was scrubbed from Smash GC’s social media, stirring rumors of a potential departure from Koepka’s team. His image returned to Smash GC profiles, but it is likely his contributions will not come 2024.
“I read the SI interview with our Captain Brooks Koepka and it was beyond disappointing to me,” Wolff told Sports Illustrated. “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 ever 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 has been well documented. I deal with those challenges every day.
“However, 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 Ike 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. But I’m moving forward and won’t ever give up on myself. While on course results may not appear now to be positive indicators, I’m trying to win an even BIGGER game with my life.
“Finally, I trust Brooks wants what is best for our team. But it’s hard to imagine his comments in his recent SI interview in any way line up with those priorities. This will be my last comment on this matter. I’m heading out today to the Centurion Club trying to help our team win this week. I appreciate everyone’s continued support and your respect for my privacy.”
Wolff has been vocal about his love for team golf since joining LIV. Often citing the structure while at Oklahoma State University, a time during which he led to the Cowboys to victory at the NCAA championship in 2018 and won the NCAA individual title in 2019, Wolff appears far removed from his good old days of college. Where the former can’t-miss-kid goes from here remains to be seen as he sits 27th on LIV Golf’s money list with only the top 24 guaranteeing a spot on the LIV tour for next season.