Cape Town - World No 1 Brooks Koepka grabbed a share of the first round lead at the Tour Championship on the same day the first images from his naked photo-shoot for ESPN's 'The Body Issue' were revealed.
According to the Australia Associated Press (AAP), Koepka came under heavy scrutiny in March this year for losing more than 10kg in preparation to be featured in the magazine next month, given it coincided with three poor tournaments.
In March, the muscular Koepka dropped from 95kg to 84kg and admitted it cost him 10 yards in driving distance.
It contributed to a missed cut and two other poor results at several top tournaments.
However, the 29-year-old hit back at criticism after Round 1 at the Tour Championship on Thursday.
"All these people that talk crap on social media; they don't have the balls to do (the shoot) and they wouldn't look that good," said Koepka, who is within striking distance of a $15 million FedEx Cup bonus this week.
The Body Issue is a rebranded edition of ESPN The Magazine that features dozens of athletes in nude and semi-nude photographs.
"Getting naked's a bit weird; the first time you actually pull that robe off in front of 30, 40 people," Koepka said.
"It's something I wanted to do; to get chosen for that, you have to be one of the best in your sport."
Meanwhile, fellow golfers Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler supported Koepka's decision to pose nude.
"I know Brooks worked hard for that," McIlroy said. Added Fowler: "I think it takes some balls to do it, literally."
Complied by Garrin Lambley