Matthew Wolff, who was accused by LIV Golf teammate Brooks Koepka of quitting on the course, said it’s “heartbreaking” that the Smash GC captain would criticize him amid Wolff’s mental health “challenges on and off the golf course.”
Earlier this week, Koepka told Sports Illustrated that he has “basically given up” on Wolff, who has finished out of the top 30 against 48-man fields in his past five LIV Golf League events, including a withdrawal before the final round of the LIV Golf event outside Washington last month with an undisclosed injury.
“I mean, when you quit on your round, you give up and stuff like that, that’s not competing,” Koepka told Sports Illustrated. “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.”
Wolff, who is 25th in the points standings entering the LIV Golf event outside London this week, responded on Friday with a statement to Sports Illustrated, saying it was “beyond disappointing” to read Koepka’s criticism.
“To hear through the media that our team leader has given up on me is heartbreaking,” Wolff said. “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.”
Wolff won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s best college player as a sophomore at Oklahoma State in 2019, turned pro and won in his third start on the PGA Tour at the 3M Open. He had the 54-hole lead at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot before closing with a 75 to be runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau.
But he began to struggle and then took a two-month break in 2021 to address his mental health, at one point telling Golf Digest that year that he just wanted “to stay in my bed and not be in front of everyone and not screw up in front of anyone.”
Wolff on Friday told Sports Illustrated that his mental health challenges have “been quite difficult for me” and that he deals with those challenges every day.
“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 [like] my game is turning for the positive,” Wolff told SI.
“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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.