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August 15, 2016

Jessica Korda

Justin Thomas

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

ALEX URBAN: I'd like to welcome all the journalists on the line. This is Alex Urban, PGA TOUR manager of communications. I'm here with CIMB Classic defending champion Justin Thomas, and I'm here with the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia defending champion Jessica Korda. Justin won his first PGA TOUR event last fall at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and will be there to defend soon, and then actually the very next week, Jessica will be defending her title, which was her fourth LPGA Tour win, so I'm going to get them both to open up with comments about their win and then we'll open up for some questions. I'll let Justin open it up.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that was a very special week, obviously, my first PGA TOUR win, and to do it in a place like Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur was really cool. It was a very stressful week, especially with how the finish went, but to beat some of the players I did was definitely a big confidence boost for me going forward, and it's a week that I'll always remember and use going forward when I get in contention in tournaments.

ALEX URBAN: Jessica?

JESSICA KORDA: I mean, I just had a such a great time. I love going back to Malaysia. It's one of my favorite events that we go to. I think the crowd support that we get there is just so, so much fun, and you know, it's just one of those events that's very, very special to me, whether it's the charities that we kind of give back to or being able to interact with the young golfers coming up, and we've seen them grow up for the last five years. I think it's just something really special to us, and I'm just so happy that we get to come back this year and try and defend both of our titles.

ALEX URBAN: Maybe some comments, Justin, about what it's like to play golf in Malaysia. I know last year was your first trip. You've documented on social media your first trip over there. Talk about that trip and what you're looking forward to in getting back.

JUSTIN THOMAS: It was a really cool trip. I had never been to Asia before, so to travel across the world to go play in a golf tournament was a new experience for me, and usually my biggest problem with traveling is food, but I found a lot of food that I liked, so that was definitely a very comforting feeling. It was great over there. I was very comfortable. The fans made us feel very welcome, and the course did, and the course was great, and the hotel was great. Usually for traveling abroad, it's not something that was as easy as it was that week, so it was great.

ALEX URBAN: Jess, you guys play a very international schedule on the LPGA; talk about what it's like to manage that schedule with all the travel and going to so many different countries.

JESSICA KORDA: I mean, I think when you first see the schedule, it's a bit overwhelming because you literally are flying around the world. But I think because I've done it for so many years now, it's one of those things like okay, well, I just need to fly to this airport and this is fine and you kind of know the schedules now and you know what time you're going to be flying in with just experience and doing it for such a long time now. I think you just get so used to it. They make it very easy on us. We get treated like royalty when we go there. You land, cars are ready for you, you get taken to a beautiful hotel with amazing food, and definitely Malaysia is one of the easiest tournaments that we have in terms of travel because it's so -- we stay in a mall, so it's really not that hard to find things to do outside of golf, and like I said, we just have a lot of fun over there.

ALEX URBAN: Both of you are playing the same property, so Justin, I'll get your thoughts on the golf course, what you like about it.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's a cool golf course. It's different in the sense of the fairways are very, very narrow. It would be a course to where if the time of year was different and they were firm, I really truly don't understand how we'd be able to hit some of the fairways. It's different in the sense that you have to make a lot of birdies, but it's fun, too. You just kind of get hot out there. You can get going. You have to bring it every day in terms of the scores obviously being so low, but it's just a lot of fun. It's a course you go over there, you don't even feel like you're in a different country. I'd say we play some places in America that are like it. But yeah, it's a great track for sure.

ALEX URBAN: Same question to you, Jessica. What is it about the golf course that fits your eye?

JESSICA KORDA: I mean, like Justin said, for us it's a fun course. There's a lot of doglegs where you have to think and place the ball, but at the same time you have a lot of wedges in your hand to where you can make a lot of birdies and can start really making a charge up that leaderboard. If you look at either the winning scores or anybody that was behind me or played with me or just the leaderboard in general, you'll see a lot of low scores, and I think that's a lot of fun because you're always trying to one-up each other that week, and it's just a great course and very tricky. I think a lot of the par-3s -- the holes basically coming in are really hard because it's all over the water, island greens, and it's just a lot of pressure on you just to hit the green and try and make a two-putt.

Q. Just curious, you guys have been watching the Olympics, and what's your favorite moment so far apart from the golf?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes, I've been watching every single minute of the Olympics that I possibly can. I loved watching Michael Phelps win his five gold medals, and basically watching him for the last time is what we think, and then obviously the golf was so much fun to watch. I think one of my favorite lines from the men's Olympics was Kuchar has never been so happy to finish third in an event before, and just seeing the emotion from the athletes, obviously watching the gymnastics, I had tears in my eyes every single time someone went up to the podium. I love the Olympics and I love watching them, and hopefully in 2020 I'm there.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was a lot of fun watching. I didn't quite get to the tears stage like Jessica did, but it was a lot of fun to watch. I think the opening ceremonies really did it for me. I obviously wanted to play, and I want to play in future Olympics, but after seeing that and just seeing -- I mean, you'll never be able to take back the fact that you're an Olympian, and to be able to walk in an opening ceremony and just to play with so much pride, any time you get to represent your country no matter what it is, it's an honor, but to do it on the highest stage like the Olympics would be something that would be very, very special I think to both of us. It was fun to watch the golf and see Rosey and Henrik and Kuch play so well to get their respective medals, and I think, like I said, we're both excited to hopefully win ourselves some medals in the future.

Q. This is a question for Justin: How has winning the CIMB Classic changed your life?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It changed it but a lot more so for the better. It's presented opportunities to play in tournaments I didn't have more. To play in all the majors this year was awesome, and it put me in a spot in the World Rankings to be able to get in the best tournaments, but more importantly, it gave me a lot of confidence going forward because I know when I get in contention and the times that I have, I can go back to my memories there in Malaysia and the CIMB and of winning there, and just to know that I got it done and I hit the shots and made the putts when I needed to, I think that's more important than anything else, just the confidence going forward.

Q. Jessica, what's your form been like recently? Are you confident coming back? It's always different when you come back to defend.
JESSICA KORDA: I would say that my form is getting better. No, I'm really excited to come back to Malaysia. It's one of the first events that I think I committed to when the schedule came out. It's one of my favorite events that we play in Asia because of the friends that I've made there in the past couple of years. I obviously love the people and I love the food and I love the place. It's just a lot of fun being there, honestly.

Q. Jessica, what are you looking forward to mostly on your trip to Malaysia?
JESSICA KORDA: Just seeing everybody again. You know, I love spending time with Natasha Oon. She's a great up-and-coming player. She has so much fun, and being able to see how she's grown, I think that's just the best part about what we do is just keeping these relationships with these people that you see maybe once or twice a year and just seeing how everything changes. Honestly it's just one of my favorite events in general. We get so much support in Malaysia, and I love it.

ALEX URBAN: The PGA TOUR and the LPGA entered into a strategic alliance announced in March which allows us to do fun stuff like this. Give some overall comments on your thoughts on the two organizations working together and what that could mean maybe for the future.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's really cool to be able to work with the LPGA and get the two great events on both of our tours back-to-back week. It'll be cool because I feel like there's so many potential things for story lines, whether it's hopefully us going back-to-back or some other young people winning or whatever the story lines may be, but the fact that they're on the same course, the same country, same town back-to-back weeks on both of our respective tours is really, really cool. I think the opportunity for us to hopefully grow the game and to showcase all of our abilities, not just our own, is a really great opportunity.

JESSICA KORDA: I think it's just great to be able to do things like this. Like Justin said, not only going to Malaysia and playing back-to-back weeks, but just the general exposure that we all are going to get from this. I think we have very good followings on both tours, and I think it'll just mix everything together. It'll be something where they've never -- because they've never seen the men play or never have seen us interact, and I always grew up with guys, so just being around them again I think is going to be really, really fun and I think entertaining for everybody since social media is getting so big, and obviously Justin has a lot of following in terms of what he does off the golf course with him and his buddies. We kind of do the same thing on our tour, and it will be fun to kind of see how that interaction becomes -- is between us.

Q. Justin and Jess, how important is it now given golf's growing global appeal to play all over the world?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That's very important, I think especially with what the ladies are doing. They play in so many different countries. They rack up more miles I think than anybody in the world. It's pretty crazy. But for us to be able to play in different countries, especially with guys that will travel worldwide, it's cool for us not only to get to play in all these different places but to hopefully get kids and other people to want to play the game and to want to get interested and involved.

I think golf is such a unique sport, and it's a lot of fun. But for people and hopefully a lot more people to get to experience that would be great not only for them but for the game of golf.

JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, I think just being able to travel to Asia, it's just brought a different viewing to both of our tours, just different exposures to us, as well. We're learning a whole lot of different things when we travel outside the United States. We are very global as a tour, and I think we embrace that, and we have a lot of great experiences with it. Like I said, just the people that we meet and you see how much you've impacted not only their life but their family's lives and how much joy they have seeing you coming and playing, they just get so excited, and it's so great to see and it's so refreshing because usually on a normal -- on other tours you wouldn't see kind of the global impact of the game, and you really see it on our tour a lot because it's so international, and the same with the PGA TOUR now. It's starting to be more international.

ALEX URBAN: I'm going to have you guys close just with some quick comments each about your specific tournaments, CIMB Classic and Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, just your feelings on getting back to defend and the opportunity to do so.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yea, really excited to get back to Malaysia and to go play Kuala Lumpur and just see some familiar faces and have some good vibes for both I think myself and Jessica. It'll be great to go to a place where my first win was and to get to see my picture on the wall. I get to see a lot of my friends on there and got to see Jessica up there, so to have my picture up there will probably be a pretty cool moment for me. I'm just very excited to get back and see what we can do this year.

JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, like Justin said, it's always a great event. It's always in fantastic shape, and the people that come out and support, it's very, very nice. It's almost overwhelming how many people come out. They love golf. They love watching us, and we love having them there, so definitely really excited to come back this year and defend.

ALEX URBAN: We'd like to thank Justin and Jessica for joining us this morning, and want to thank everyone on the other side for joining. I know it's just after 9:00 p.m. your time, so thanks for jumping on the phone a little late. I know they're looking forward to getting to Malaysia to defend both of their tournaments, and we're excited to have you guys come out and cover it. Thank you so much, and we will talk soon.

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