Claude Harmon III is Brooks Koepka’s coach and the proverbial glue that binds Team Koepka. The son of legendary Butch Harmon went on an absolute tear on Sunday at Oak Hill amid Koepka claiming his fifth major title at the PGA Championship.
In the lengthy thought dump, Harmon fileted LIV Golf critics, particularly the “corrupt golf media,” while debunking several bogus narratives.
Here’s how it went down, according to Golfweek‘s transcript.
Elite golfers being paid upfront:
“I want LIV to succeed and I want LIV to work because I am pro-professional athlete. I don’t think Rory McIlroy should go anywhere in the world without somebody paying him, including Memphis and Memorial.
“That’s how good he is. Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, if you’re in that category, you shouldn’t be going anywhere without being paid because it’s how good you are.”
My take: Harmon is saying that elite golfers are being used as pawns by the PGA Tour and its tournaments. I mean, if you’re going to plaster Jon Rahm’s face all over your marketing collateral to sell tickets and lure in TV viewers, Rahmbo needs to be paid upfront. Yet, when he shows up to a PGA Tour event, he’s guaranteed nothing.
Brandel Chamblee and Eamon Lynch, Golf Channel’s smear merchants:
“Brandel is a paid actor by NBC and Golf Channel. All he’s trying to do is get his lines and shows for the Golf Channel. He’s just trying to get lines for Brandel…
“And I mean, I love him, I think Eamon is a fantastic writer, but for Eamon Lynch and Brandel Chamblee, who worked for NBC Golf Channel to utter the words ‘sports washing’ when the company they work for televised the last two Winter Olympics in Russia and China with the same leaders that they’ve had. It’s not like they were good leaders back then. It’s not like Putin was a good guy, right?”
My take: Lynch and Chamblee have consistently criticized LIV through a moral filter, i.e. Saudi Arabia is evil. Yet, these two clowns work for NBC Sports, which shilled for the dictatorial China regime during the Olympics, and the Golf Channel, which promoted PGA Tour events in the communist country for more than a decade. In case you’re unaware, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) makes the Saudis look like chumps when it comes to human rights’ abuses.
Media as a whole are lying propagandists:
“You guys all think LIVs, maybe you’ve changed your tune, but initially, it was all just bullshit, a bunch of guys playing who didn’t care, who got the money, who got the bag, and it’s 54 holes and there’s no competition and all that.
“So it was easy for you guys to just pretend like these guys just weren’t good players anymore. And I think you guys largely did that because you drank the Kool-Aid of everybody else. But how you guys all thought that these guys just weren’t going to show up and be great players is beyond me.
“I think it is an interesting Jedi mind trick that they played on you guys and you guys fell for it. Because you guys were all, ‘These guys were all washed up. They took the bag. They’re insignificant. They play against no competition.’ And that’s just not the case.
“If I’m critical of you guys in the media, you guys portrayed this as (Brooks) took the money and then Tiger came out with his comment, you know, Tiger, the ultimate guy who got all the money up front. I mean, I was around then. He flew to his first professional golf tournament on Nike’s private jet, and he wasn’t paying for it.
“So you guys pushed this narrative and pretended like LIV was an exhibition, nobody watched it, you guys didn’t report on it, none of you guys came to the tournaments.
“I mean the golf that I saw Cam (Smith) play last year, the golf that I saw DJ play last year, the golf that I saw Brooks play at the end of the year is the same golf that is being played on the PGA Tour. You guys just tried to pretend that it wasn’t.”
My take: Here I think CH3 is giving the media a pass. I don’t think they drank any Kool Aid. They made the Kool Aid. The golf media, like the news media, are generally smear merchants.
The disrespect of LIV golfers and elevation of PGA Tour players:
“Listen, there are a lot of people that having gone through this whole LIV versus the PGA Tour, there are a lot of people that you guys on the Tour side of this, I mean, blow smoke up their asses like their (expletive) world beaters. And some of these guys haven’t won tournaments in quite a long time. The fact that Will Zalatoris is top 10 in the world is laughable, and it has nothing to do with him.
“But my point with that is you guys all acted like Brooks was a shitty player and Will Zalatoris (aka Willy Z to the media) was great, but the guy has won one (expletive) golf tournament, yeah, he’s finished second in a bunch of tournaments. So have a lot of players, but you guys are ready to crown him as if he’s the second coming of Christ and you guys are acting like Brooks Koepka was a bum.
“Seriously, pre-Masters, that is what was happening. And you guys know that… LIV also allows players to have time off, that you guys have beat everybody up for. They do get time off, they get two weeks stretches off, they got four months off. And so some of these guys used that time. I think Bryson used that time really well. I think Phil used that time really, really well.
“But, you know, I watched Taylor Gooch, he was on DJ’s team last year. That kid is a legit golfer. He is an old-school shaper, he can move it a bunch of different directions and then the golf that Peter Uhlein is playing right now on LIV. I mean if you’re going to make the argument that the only reason Peter is playing good golf is because he’s only got to play against 48 players then you can make the same argument that Max Homa and Sahith (Theegala) and all these guys that weren’t ever really superstars all of a sudden you could make that argument too. It’s just golf, there is some unbelievable golf being played on LIV. There really is because I see it week in and week out.”
My take: The media loved Brooks Koepka, right up until he moved to LIV. Then he was “washed up” and “not close to being a top 50 player.” Meanwhile they needed to fill the void, so they elevated players like Will Zalatoris, aka Willy Z, who has one career win.
The PGA Tour’s Truman Show:
“This goes a long way to debunking the LIV myth, which is everybody got paid, you’re not going to care, and if you get paid you’re going to phone it in. Nobody thinks that way with Lamar Jackson, with Dak Prescott, with the NBA. Why is golf different? Why do we want golf to be not like everything else? That’s what I fundamentally don’t get.
“In 2023, we still want golf to be this bullshit Truman Show. We want this Deane Beman-Tim Finchem we’re not the NBA or NFL for our sponsors. There’s no transparency, nobody has any issues, nobody has any problems and if they do, we’re not going to talk about it, we’re going to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s the Truman Show. It’s Leave it to Beaver. And that’s not the reality.”
My take: The ‘Truman Show’ reference and ‘Leave it to Beaver’ is a shot at the PGA Tour’s Potemkin village, where fans are gaslit into oblivion and told to believe the absurd such as the FedEx Cup points race is exciting and meaningful, and/or that Dustin Johnson is world No. 82 and Max Homa is No. 7.
Brooks is a generational talent:
“There couldn’t be anyone that got more grief for doing the LIV thing than Brooks. He got a big dose of the anti-LIV hate. And he got a big dose of ‘he’s a bum, he’s washed up.’
“Listen, he’s a generational talent. He’s not like everyone else. Brooks is Aaron Rodgers. He’s a franchise quarterback in the NFL. In other sports terms, he’s a starting pitcher who just threw another no hitter, won another World Series, won another Cy Young. That’s who he is, he’s a player. He’s Kevin Durant. He’s one of those athletes that everybody in sports is saying get him on my team I don’t care how much I have to pay to get him. That’s the type of athlete he is…
“But this is my point. I said this, we were at Portland and a couple of guys were like, ‘Why do you think they’re paying him this?’ I’m like, ‘Guys, Brooks Koepka is Justin Verlander. He’s a four-time World Series, four-time Cy Young.’ Even if he’s hurt at this stage of his career, what did Verlander get? He’s at the end of his career and they gave him $90 million. That’s pretty close to what I’m sure a bunch of these LIV guys got and nobody bats an eyelash. Well, that’s, that’s great. And he immediately got hurt and sits the year out, anybody writing about it? Does anybody think he should give the money back? So yeah, when he made the choice to get the LIV, I think it was as much a business decision as it was a professional decision.
My take: Brooks is not just a great player like Justin Thomas. He’s the best big-game player of his generation – by a long shot. So, show him some damn respect.
Debunking the ‘Brooks Regrets move to LIV Golf’ narrative:
“But honestly, we had to tell him in Orlando, Ricky and I said, ‘Hey, we need you to focus on golf,’ because he is in every meeting.
“Brooks knows more about LIV other than Phil, he knows more about the inner workings of LIV than any player. So at Augusta he’s playing good and people are like, ‘yeah, but he’s really not a LIV guy because he plays with Rory and he hasn’t come out and bashed them.’ Like when he’s home, he’s like, ‘Hey, can we hit balls tomorrow between 10 and 12 because I’m on Zoom calls the rest of the afternoon.’
“Like, he’s nonstop. He knows more about LIV and the teams and the inner workings because he’s in everything. Anybody that thinks that he’s done all that to just walk away from all of this, he just doesn’t have any beef with the Tour.
“He doesn’t have any beef with anybody on the Tour. He doesn’t have any beef with Jay Monahan. He just chose to go play LIV, that’s all this was.”
My take: To save face at the Masters, the media claimed Brooks, who was leading the tournament, wasn’t really part of LIV because he doesn’t wear league branding and he’s “not really into the whole LIV thing.” Bottomline, the media could not have a LIV player, who’s content with his decision, finishing 2nd and 1st in the opening two majors. It’d be a disaster, narrative-wise, for them and the PGA Tour. And it was/is!
Comparing PGA Tour and LIV Golf to NASCAR and F1:
“The good thing I think all of this is showing is, it’s just golf. You can be a racecar driver for NASCAR or you can be a racecar driver for F1. You’re still a race car driver.
“Nobody in NASCAR, nobody in F1 is asking you to choose between the two. For some reason, Jay and the guys in Ponte Vedra and a segment of you guys in media want the fans to choose between LIV and the PGA Tour, and you don’t have to. Because everywhere Phil goes, fans want his autograph.
“The Golf Channel tried to make out like he was literally Josef Mengele. In London, fans couldn’t wait to watch him and get his autograph. Here, they can’t wait to get his autograph. He’s a golfer. That’s all this is.
“I know Denny Hamlin, and he’s a NASCAR driver and I’ve helped him with his golf. And I’ve been to a race, I’ve been in his bus and everything. And I’ve helped Carlos Sainz with his golf and I’m an F1 guy. I don’t watch NASCAR, it doesn’t mean that it’s not cool. I just don’t watch it.
“If Denny’s leading and has a chance to win a race I’ll watch it or if he invites me to a race, I’ll go and watch it. I watch F1 but it doesn’t mean that NASCAR is a (bad) product. That’s to me what this is. This is F1 and NASCAR. They’re vastly different demographics. They have vastly different ways they present the sport. They have vastly different sponsors. They go to different places. But at the end of the day, it’s motor racing.
“What do you do for a living? I’m a race car driver. Where do you drive? Oh, NASCAR. Well, it’s not Formula 1. Do you think anybody would say that? You would never do that. That’s really what this is. And these things can both be true.”
My take: Golf is golf. Golf is not the PGA Tour. I bet on the Charles Schwab Challenge just like I bet on LIV Golf DC.
How far Koepka has come compared to McIlroy:
“If someone told you in 2023 after Valhalla that Koepka would have more major wins than Rory McIlroy you wouldn’t believe it because that’s how unbelievable a golfer Rory McIlroy is.
“Ten years ago, we’re standing on the first tee with Jonas Blixt. Tom Watson walks up and he says, ‘Hey, I’m looking for Harris English.’ We’re like, ‘OK, none of us is Harris English.’ He said, ‘Do you mind if I play a few holes with you guys and try to find Harris?’ We’re walking down the fairway and Watson goes (to Brooks), ‘So which club do you play out of?’ He thought he was a club pro. That’s 2014 after finishing fourth in the U.S. Open and he was the Ryder Cup captain and thought he was a club pro. Again, the year that Rory McIlroy won his fourth major is the same year that Tom Watson thought he was a club pro.
“In 2023, Brooks has got five.
“He’s not afraid. How he’s come back says a lot. He’s always felt his career is defined by majors. He’s got more than Rory, he’s got more than Jordan, he’s got more than a lot of people that get a lot more fanfare than he gets. We’re in different territory now.”
My take: Just how far and fast Koepka has built a Hall of Fame legacy, while Rory, still a generational talent, has clearly stagnated.