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July 20, 2017

Brooks Koepka

Southport, England

STUART MOFFAT: Delighted to welcome Brooks Koepka into the interview room.

Brooks, you're currently tied for the lead at 5-under par. Talk about your round and especially that eagle on 17.

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I played pretty solid today. I felt like I was in control of the golf ball pretty much all day. And it was just fun to get back playing again. It's something after taking four weeks off, it's kind of nice to get back inside the ropes and finally get those competitive juices flowing.

I played really solid. And unfortunately one bogey on 16, just a bad putt. But 17 was actually a terrible lie in the bunker. It was in one of the those rake marks. And my caddie told me to get inside ten feet; that would be pretty good. And luckily enough it went in.

Q. Is there any concern about competitive rust after taking the time off after taking the time off after the U.S. Open?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, not one bit. If I'm mentally recharged, my swing is -- I've done the same thing for years. So it shouldn't take too long to get back into it. But it was nice to get over here early and just kind of get a feel for the golf course and just kind of play again. I think we played nine holes every day. One day we played 14.

It's more mental with me, just being mentally recharged and being relaxed.

Q. How long did you not touch a club after the U.S. Open? And then can you tell us in the last couple of weeks what your preparation has been like since you've come over?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I didn't get back to my house until I think like July 1. You're going to laugh when I tell you, I played once with my manager. I think we played on, I don't know when it was, maybe July 6th, 7th, was the first time I touched a club. And then did it one day for a photo shoot, and then came over here. That was it.

So, came over here and practised Saturday, Sunday. It feels comfortable, just where I picked off. It was nice to get back in the gym. That was kind of the one thing that was kind of tough after everything we did, going to Vegas and all.

But I feel good. Body feels good. And it feels back in the routine now.

Q. Let's talk of some rain and wind coming in possibly tomorrow. You must have some great experience from your Challenge Tour days. You must have seen some pretty good sights back in the day?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think when I won up in Aberdeen, I think that weather was pretty bad, a lot of rain, a lot of wind. I don't even -- I don't think I had the lead going into the final day, maybe I did. But we weren't sure if it was going to -- the fourth day was even going to happen. I don't mind bad weather. It doesn't faze me. I don't really care that much. Just go play golf and shoot the lowest you can.

Q. I'll be asking the same question I asked Jordan: In the context of this round, a major, the weather, the vagaries of links golf, where would you put that round in the pantheon of major rounds you've played in your career?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know. I love links golf. So anytime I can come across the pond and play links, it's special, especially after missing last year. That wasn't fun. It's been two years since I've played links golf, I'd say.

I love it. Anytime I can come over here and play, I'm looking forward to it and I'm up for the challenge.

Q. When you stepped to that first tee today, was there any tangible difference in how you felt now that you're a major champion?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, it was still the same me. I'm not going to change. I haven't changed. You've just got to hit a golf ball; that's all you have to do. There's no added pressure. It's not like it's a sense of relief. I've still got goals that I want to obtain and I haven't done those yet. So when I do, I'll maybe look back at the end of my career and be extremely satisfied or disappointed. But as of right now I still have got a few more to win.

Q. If it was tough getting back into the gym after Vegas, what exactly did you do in Vegas?
BROOKS KOEPKA: We had fun. We had fun in Vegas. Yeah, I mean getting back to the gym was tough.

Q. Let's go back to Vegas.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it was fun (laughter). I had a few friends out. We had a good time.

Q. I want to say you won Phoenix in '16, is that right? '15. That was a big chunk of time off after '14 going into Phoenix. What is it about you that can set the sticks down for that long, warm up, if you will, and come out with the engine running?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Like I said, it's just a mental thing. I don't think it's anything else. If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant, I guess you could say. You get to be in the routine and get used to it. And it just doesn't seem -- it just doesn't ever seem like I'm fully ready to play. If you take some time off and kind of recharge mentally, physically, I feel like I'm in really good shape right now, even with that time off mentally.

It's nice to come back. You get excited to play golf. And anytime you're excited, you're extremely focused when you're out here. And it's a major championship, and if you can't get up for that, you might as well go home.

Q. Just curious if you get a sense that you're kind of chomping at the bit right before you come back, and if that's the best feeling you can have, if you know what you mean?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I was chomping at the bit to get back, kind of those last few days at home. I was excited to get over here. I just wanted to play golf. I just wanted to get back inside the ropes. I wanted to have those juices flowing. Sometimes it's hard even when you're practising at home, if you're playing with buddies or just playing by yourself, really hard to get up for it. I mean, I think -- it's funny, I'll play with my dad and shoot 75 every time or higher. It's hard to get into it. It's something, you just need a little bit of competitiveness and a little bit of something to get me going.

I mean, you look at all the majors that I've played. You look back at, I don't know how long, when did I start, 2013, '14, the record has been pretty good. Anytime you put something on the line like that, I get up for it.

Q. Did you shoot with Blake?
BROOKS KOEPKA: He beat me. He beat me.

Q. How many did you give Blake?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Was it ten? 13. Yeah, I knew there was -- yeah. I lost one way left at 18. And that was a lost ball. And then I was done.

Q. This is a different test, obviously, than Erin Hills, which you overpowered. Can you give us a sense of what the game plan is this week, starting with how many drivers you hit today.
BROOKS KOEPKA: I'd say five or six drivers today. The wind was blowing pretty good today, so it wasn't like it was -- sometimes you can be hitting 3-iron with no wind, and you had to hit driver. It was a bit different. I'm not trying to overpower this golf course. If you get holes downwind like 18 or No. 8 or 17, too, I mean, you kind of play the hole backwards. You're not trying to -- put it this way, from 200 yards downwind, you shouldn't hit the ball off line very far. So it's not that difficult. The pins aren't going to be tucked. There's not many bunkers in front of the greens, so you've got plenty of room to put the ball close to the pin.

And then it's just judging the wind. And by the 8th hole you should have a feel for how much it's moving the ball or affecting it. So you're kind of playing the hole backwards, which to me is links golf. Off the tee you're trying to avoid all the bunkers or if it's got a lot of bunkers, you're just trying to put one of them in play. You just try to take the best chance you have of putting the ball in the fairway or on the grass. And that's the big thing.

Q. You said how much you like links golf. What is it about this style of play that kind of brings out your best?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Just the creativity. I see so many different shots out here. And having to pick one is kind of hard, to be honest with you. I look back at 17, we could have probably hit three-quarter nine, and hit it a little lower and had it run up the green. But it could have maxed it out and flown it by the pin and gone a little past it. You can hit so many different shots, you can hit low, high, draw, run it. And even off the greens you can flop it up there, if you want, if you're ballsy enough to do that or putt it or bump-and-run it. There's just so much that goes into it in links golf.

To me, I'm just always trying to avoid a bunker. I was in quite a few of them today. But I'm just trying to always avoid that. Because you never know what kind of lie, stance, what you're going to get there. So you just try to avoid them as much as possible.

Q. You had a rough patch earlier this year, and you shrugged your shoulder and said, "It's a long haul. I'm out here for 25 years, I'm not too worried about it." What kicked in or got you going toward better play?
BROOKS KOEPKA: That's kind of a tough question to answer. I mean, there's a lot that plays into it. It was off the golf course. It had nothing to do on the golf course. It was tough to come out every day for a while there. And once I got past that and kind of reset, hit the reset button, my personal life, everything seemed to become a little bit easier. And I was eager to wake up in the morning and go to the gym and go play golf. And I wasn't like that in the beginning of the year.

STUART MOFFAT: Brooks, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

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