Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka showing early sign of major struggles

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The affiliations of players, whether they belong to the PGA Tour or LIV Golf, no longer seem to be much of a talking point except to note who’s playing at the start and who wins at the end.

But two majors into the year, a couple of LIV players are worth noting for barely being visible.

Brooks Koepka has never gone more than one major outside the top 20 when healthy. Now he has gone three straight majors out of the top 25 dating to the British Open last summer. He tied for 45th at the Masters and tied for 26th at the PGA Championship this year, with a LIV victory in between.

Asked to assess his week, Koepka replied, “Not very good. I think it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?”

Dustin Johnson is building a larger sample size, and it is not impressive for the two-time major champion. He had to birdie three of the last five holes Friday at Valhalla to make the cut on the number. He has never missed three straight cuts in the majors.

The 39-year-old Johnson has played eight majors since joining LIV and only twice has he finished inside the top 20. He tied for 10th in the U.S. Open last year and tied for sixth at St. Andrews in the 2022 British Open.

The small sample size belongs to Jon Rahm, but stands out given he was No. 2 in the world when he left for LIV in December.

The defending Masters champion, Rahm looked certain to miss the cut this year at Augusta National until the ferocious wind moved the cut line and he made it with one shot to spare. He didn’t break par that week.

And then he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. That ended 18 consecutive cuts made in the majors, the longest active streak. And that will make the attention a little more heightened next month at the U.S. Open.


The PGA Tour board of directors is now down to three independent directors. The next best thing to a Friday news dump is Monday morning after a major, and that’s when it was announced that Mark Flaherty had resigned.

That’s the second resignation in two weeks, following Jimmy Dunne notifying the board by letter that he was resigning immediately.

Dunne, who helped arrange the meeting between PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, said he felt progress was not being made on a commercial deal. Dunne also said his role was superfluous.

Meanwhile, the “Dealbook” section of the New York Times reported Tuesday that progress on a deal with PIF has been made and the two sides recently exchanged term sheets.

Flaherty, formerly of Wellington Management and a board member at Goldman Sachs, said only in his letter it was an honor and privilege to serve. His departure leaves only board chairman Ed Herlihy, Joe Gorder and Mary Meeker as independent directors on the board of PGA Tour Inc. There are six player directors.

Gorder, the chairman and CEO of Valero Energy, is chairman of PGA Tour Enterprises, the commercial company that has Strategic Sports Group as a minority investor. That has four other directors links to SSG along with Monahan as CEO. The 13-member board also has six players and player liaison Joe Ogilvie.


Five Americans have won the last five majors, a streak that began with Brooks Koepka in the 2023 PGA Championship and carried on with Wyndham Clark (U.S. Open), Brian Harman (British Open), Scottie Scheffler (Masters) and Xander Schauffele (PGA Championship).

It’s the longest such streak in 40 years.

Larry Nelson won the U.S. Open in 1983 at Oakmont. That was followed by Tom Watson (British Open), Hal Sutton (PGA Championship), Ben Crenshaw (Masters) and Fuzzy Zoeller (U.S. Open). Seve Ballesteros ended that streak by winning the 1984 British Open.


Steve Stricker broke his driver at The Players Championship and then figured that might be a good time to update his irons.

Turns out that wasn’t the case. Stricker prefers to stick with what works, no matter how old.

“At Regions (Tradition) a couple weeks ago I went back to the ones that I’ve been playing the last four, five years,” he said. “So that seemed to be a little bit better.”

It’s safe to say Stricker is not caught up in new gears. He says his putter is about 24 years old. He’s had his 3-wood for 15 years.

“Once I find something I like and I know that it works, I got confidence in, it’s hard for me to change,” he said. “I tried to do it with some irons the last month or so. It’s just hard. You have one idea what the ball should do and then when you put a new club in your bag it does something different. It’s about getting used to, and sometimes I just don’t want to even take the time to get used to it.”


The USGA returns to its roots with the U.S. Senior Open next month at Newport Country Club.

The course at the mouth of Narragansett Bay was one of the five founding USGA members and hosted the first USGA championship — the 1895 U.S. Amateur, followed a day later by the first U.S. Open.

The USGA will be hosting its 1,000th event at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 June 13-16, two weeks before heading back to Newport.

“It’s only fitting we get to start the next 1,000 championships right here where we had our very first,” the tournament’s senior director, Hank Thompson, said Tuesday.

The 1895 tournaments were postponed for a month to make room in Newport for the America’s Cup sailing regatta. The 2024 U.S. Senior Open was originally supposed to be held there in 2020 but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Newport CC could have gone on their way and done something else, and the world could have continued on. But they decided to come right back to us,” said Ben Kimball, the USGA’s director of championships. “Making visits for seven years, it’s good to see this finally come to fruition.”


Auburn freshman Jackson Koivun has won the Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s best college player. He’s the first freshman since Rickie Fowler (Oklahoma State) to win the award. Koivun, who had a 69.25 scoring average, also was the SEC player of the year and freshman of the year, the first to win both honors since Justin Thomas at Alabama. … With Jon Rahm missing the cut in the PGA Championship, Hideki Matsuyama now has the longest active streak of consecutive cuts made in the majors at 16. … The last non-American to win the PGA Championship was Jason Day in 2015 at Whistling Straits.


Four of the top 10 players in the world ranking have not won a major — Viktor Hovland (No. 5), Ludvig Aberg (No. 6), Patrick Cantlay (No. 8) and Max Homa (No. 10).


“I believe that if you put in the hard work and you let yourself do what you think you can do, you’re going to have some fruits to the labor.” — PGA champion Xander Schauffele.


AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Newport, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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