London, October 21: Rory McIlroy admitted Brooks Koepka had a point when the world number one said he did not view the Northern Irishman as a rival, but did not appreciate being reminded about his major drought.
Last week Koepka, winner of four majors over the past two years, dismissed the notion of McIlroy being one of his nearest challengers for golf's biggest prizes.
"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 had said.
McIlroy is also a four-time major winner but it has been five years since his most recent triumph at the US PGA Championship, so he could not argue with Koepka's assessment.
"What Brooks [Koepka] said wasn't wrong," McIlroy told GolfTV at a skins event in Japan.
"I mean, he's been the best player in the world the last couple of years - four majors.
"I don't think he had to remind me that I haven't won one in a while."
McIlroy did pip Koepka to be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year last month, and he insisted the American's blunt comments had not caused a rift between the pair.
"I love Brooks, he's a great guy," added McIlroy, who is ranked second in the world.
"He's obviously super-competitive, like we all are. I can see where he's coming from.
"I think if you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing that it's become. But Brooks and I are good, we're good friends."
McIlroy was one of four men involved in a skins event in Japan ahead of the Zozo Championship – the first official PGA Tour tournament of the season, which begins on Thursday.
He finished the tournament in third place, behind winner Jason Day and second-placed Tiger Woods, with Hideki Matsuyama coming fourth.