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August 9, 2017

Brooks Koepka

Charlotte, North Carolina

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. I'm pleased to be joined by 2017 U.S. Open champion, Brooks Koepka.

Welcome to what is your fifth PGA Championship. I was noticing, it's hard not to notice, that your best play this year in totality has been in the majors. Is that a product of design or just by chance, happenstance? What do you think about that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I feel like it's all the majors. I feel like we -- I don't know, we put in some good work over the week. I feel like the majors really get my attention. I don't know what it is. Just the fact that every shot counts so much, or you -- you want to win majors more than you want to win anything else.

I felt like I've had a few chances coming down the stretch to win a couple more. But, you know, I don't know what it is, but the majors, I get going for it. I'm excited for this week.

JOHN DEVER: I think most people would think that your length at a golf course like Quail Hollow would give you an advantage this week. Is that an overstated advantage or what's your thought on that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think it will be an advantage this week, especially if it's going to play wet. The ball's not going to roll. The fairways are going to be a bit wider.

And then, you know, these greens are quite interesting. If they are not back to front, the first half is uphill into the grain and then the last half is downhill, downgrain.

So coming in with 9-irons, when guys are going to be hitting 6 and maybe 5-irons, it's going to be a big advantage I think to be able to stop the ball and kind of control it with the greens being a little firmer than the fairways.

Q. Is there any difference at all playing the last major of the year when you've already got one? And if there's not, could you make one up?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, you want to really bad, I know that. The season's not over; still a lot to play for. This is kind of when you want to peak.

I feel like my game's in good shape. I feel like I'm still -- I've got a lot of confidence from the win. And then, you know, playing The Open, it was a little disappointing on the weekend. I didn't really play well.

I feel like I'm playing well. It's another major, so I'll be up for it.

Q. Despite your success, certainly this year and the past several years, it seems like you're a bit of the forgotten man, if you will, among guys your age and the Jordans of the world. How much of that do you think is because of the route you took to get to the Tour and does it bother you at all?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, it doesn't bother me. I don't know if it has to do with the route or whatever.

I just think there's a group of ten guys, maybe, you go down the list from Jordan, Hideki, Justin Thomas, Rickie; there's so many guys, so somebody's going to be forgotten. I don't really care. Doesn't matter to me whether I get all the attention.

At the end of the day, I'd rather win, and that's, you know, what I'm here to do. It's hard when every week it seems like a 20-something's winning. You look at Hideki; Justin popped off three early; Jordan as of late, two. I guess Rory's in that group, even though it feels like he's been out here forever.

It's pretty tough when you look at all those guys, the list of names there. It's quite interesting.

Q. You were playing on The Challenge Tour in 2013 and won three tournaments. Then two years on The European Tour, now you're a Major Champion. How can you explain your meteoric rise, and do you think playing outside the USA helped you for building confidence?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I mean, I needed a little bit of -- to be on my own and just go over there and play four rounds of golf on The Challenge Tour. I think when I did that, it helped me grow. You know, I've said it all along, being 21, 22 years old, traveling the world's pretty sweet, and to do it for your job's awesome.

Going over there was a bunch of fun. It's the best time I've ever had playing golf. It was the most fun. You become more of a well-rounded player playing different places, having to travel, doing that sort of thing.

You know, I felt like I was good enough to be out here when I was there. It's just, it's hard to get out here. That's the hard part. I felt like if I just did what I was supposed to do and kind of dug deep and stayed patient that I was going to find a way, and then luckily enough it was pretty quick.

Q. Talking about the dynamic between player and caddie, when it comes to the mental aspect of the game of golf, what, for you, are the key attributes a good caddie brings to the table?
BROOKS KOEPKA: A good caddie -- for everybody, it's different. Some guys want somebody where it's, you know, they are only talking about golf, numbers, certain things like that.

For me, it's more somebody just to relax with. Somebody you're comfortable with. Somebody for me, my caddie, he's always trying to joke. We're not taking it too seriously when we're on the golf course except for when it's our time to hit, we kind of crunch in.

But he's always joking, laughing. But then again, he does a lot of work, too. I mean, they can't be lazy at all. Somebody that's extremely focused and driven. He spends a lot of hours driving back and forth from Orlando to Jupiter to work with me during off time, and I'll do the same thing. I'll go up to Orlando even to go see him and make sure everything's spot on.

So I mean, he's got to be -- experience does help, I think, too. I think it's a big thing. You know, especially coming out your first two years on Tour. They might have seen the golf course a few times, know what to expect, how it's going to play, things like that. Especially if they have won quite a bit, they know how to kind of keep your emotions in check, too, under pressure. But that comes from being around each other quite a bit.

My caddie knows my tendencies, I guess, when I'm pissed off or when I get a little too excited. He kind of can just tell from my body language, how I'm walking, things like that.

Q. You were the last of seven consecutive first-time major champions. I'm wondering how much that encouraged you that you could have your breakthrough, and do you feel like there's more players than ever possible to win a major championship these days?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of guys. It goes back to the same thing, like I was saying. There's so many guys under 30 who are so good and still haven't won a major. You look at Hideki, Rickie, Justin, guys like that. They are going to win one. It's only a matter of time. I think everybody knows that.

Rickie's got a pretty good record in the majors. They are going to break through soon. It's all about timing. You've got to have some bounces go your way, a little bit of luck. But there's so many good players. I wouldn't be surprised if you see kind of that pick up again, maybe that streak. I know it ended with Jordan, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Q. What's the biggest difference now having won a major, as compared to before? Is it your own perception of yourself and your game? Is it the perception of fans? Perception of other players? Just curious, what impact of having that major is in terms of what you think about yourself.
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't think anything different. It's your job. You're supposed to win. That's kind of the goal. So when you win a major, I mean, nothing changes other than maybe a few more autographs.

For me personally, I don't want to change. I feel pretty good about the way I'm playing. You know, there's no need to revamp everything, especially when you've just won and you're playing well. Obviously you're doing something right, so you don't need to try to reinvent the wheel here. It feels good.

As far as other players, I would hope nobody would treat me any different. I'm not going to treat anybody any different. Guys, there's somebody winning out here every week. You congratulate them, you kind of move on, hope you can win that week. But nothing's changed. I hope I haven't changed. The people around me kind of keep me humble. Some of my best friends don't even know anything golf; could care less. That's kind of how I like to keep it.

Q. With the PGA being in Charlotte this week and then Wyndham in Greensboro next week, North Carolina kind of being the hub of the Tour, what are your thoughts on the course so far and the PGA being in Charlotte for the first time?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think it's awesome. It's a good golf course. It's the first time I've seen it, this week.

Charlotte's a fun city. Fun place to be. The fans have been pretty good so far. So looking forward to this week.

Hopefully the rain stays away and the course can kind of dry up a little bit. Not too much because we need the greens a little bit -- a little soft. But I think it's a great golf course, and to have the PGA here is pretty special.

Q. I realize you're around these guys all the time and they're your peers and colleagues and friends and whatnot, but do you recall, whether it's Duf or Jimmy Walker, when you see them walk out onto the range, do you look at them differently just knowing that they have won a major? And if you do, do you get any sense at all that someone's looking at you differently? Not that you're a different player, but that you've achieved what everybody wants.
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't look at them any differently. That's just me. Some people might. But I'm just -- I mean, to me, they are just guys, normal guys that are just really good at golf. They've won a few tournaments. They've won majors.

So it really doesn't matter to me. You know, as long as they are a nice guy. I mean, those two guys are nice guys, but quite funny, too, Duf.

But it doesn't matter. I don't think people look at me differently. You know, just say hi to everyone and kind of chat with them a little bit and kind of move on. You see them week-in, week-out. I think people know if you're being kind of stuck up, I guess, is the right word. It won't be received very well out here.

Q. You want to stay the same, but have you noticed any more attention from people outside the golf world? Has anyone recognized you ever?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, yeah people have recognized me.

Q. What was the most interesting moment?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know, man. I just kind of move on with it. You say hi to whoever it is, and you know, shake their hand or take a picture with them and kind of go on. Just try to make that a memorable experience for them if they do say hi. Other than that, I'm just me. Honestly, I'm just a regular guy. I'm not trying to be anybody I'm not.

Q. Branden Grace shot a major record-low 62 last month at The Open Championship, but can you describe how you felt during your lowest round ever, just what that feels like?
BROOKS KOEPKA: It's pretty cool walking off the golf course. I mean, I don't even know what my low round is to be honest with you. I don't even know if it was in a tournament or just playing.

But what he did was pretty incredible. I think any time you can come off a great round, you feel -- you feel really confident. You feel like you definitely accomplished something. You're trying to build off that. You kind of -- you've got to regroup, though, at the same time, because it's really hard to follow up a good round. I think that's kind of the hardest part, especially out here.

You see a lot of guys shoot 60, 62, whatever it might be. It's hard to back up that round, so you have to reset it and build on it at the same time and build the confidence off it and realize that when it's your day, it's your day. You can't push it when it's not, and that's kind of the hard thing.

Q. I know you shared this story a lot, but for those of us who don't know it, can you recall or recount when and why you made the transition from baseball to golf, how old you were and was there a friend or family member that sort of inspired you to go harder at golf?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I forget when I quit playing baseball. It was one of those things -- believe it or not, I wasn't a power hitter in baseball. I couldn't hit a home run to save my life and I was a sucker for the curveball. I mean, I love baseball. Baseball's kind of -- I'll sit at home and watch it all day. I'll watch all nine innings and however long it goes and people are just, really.

It was kind of -- I had to pick one, and I felt like I kind of had a better chance at golf. I wish I could have played baseball, but I probably wouldn't have made it very far, maybe to the minors. But that would have been a stretch.

I mean, there's a lot of things people love, they just can't do for a living. I love it, and I'm happy I stuck with golf.

Q. Did you play it through high school or not even that far?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, I never got to in high school because it was more of a -- I didn't want to get injured for golf. I was trying to travel to go play tournaments, and I had to work. My family couldn't really afford it to have me traveling around, and my brother traveling around, trying to play golf. I had to go work and figure out how to pay for a car, go do all those things, and figure out how to pay for an airplane to get to a golf tournament. It was kind of more that.

Believe it or not, in high school, I really didn't practice that much because I was busy working trying to find a way to play golf. Baseball just took up too much time.

Q. Quick baseball follow. You've talked about golf as sometimes feeling a little boring. What is it about baseball that captivates you where you can watch a nine-inning game and be completely absorbed in it?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think there's so much going on. I guess it's like soccer for Americans. Most of the time they don't really know there's a good pitch, maybe a good take, things like that.

I mean, these guys now, they are throwing 100 miles an hour, hitting the corner of the plate right where they want to do it and their curveball just falls off the end of the table. I mean, it's pretty impressive. Even hitting it -- this sounds -- I sound like a nerd right now, but hitting it to the opposite field with a guy on second, something like that; these guys can hit so well. And it's really impressive to watch, and they obviously know what they are doing.

It's really impressive when you've got two teams that are really battling it out, low-scoring game, a pitcher's duel. To me, that's so fun to watch. I guess the only thing I can relate that to for Americans is probably soccer. They might think it's boring, a 0-0 match, and to me, that's a totally great game.

Q. Favorite player?
BROOKS KOEPKA: In baseball? Bryce Harper's pretty sweet. I think he's interesting to watch. I think he's a cool player. Obviously he's pretty good. He hits for power. I mean, he's a shorter guy; he maxes everything out of his body. He's pretty impressive to watch.

Q. You talked about how hard it is to follow a low round. Is it because you start comparing your next round with what you did the previous round and your expectations change? What makes that so difficult?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think a lot of it has to do with expectations. You know, the day before, you might have been hitting it to five feet and seeing every line with the putt. You know, even if you hit it to 20, you roll a couple 15-, 20-footers in early and it kind of opens the hole up and you just kind of roll it in.

Then other days, you might hit it to 20 feet and the next day you're not satisfied. It's kind of one of those things that it kind of keeps building. You kind of hold yourself back a little bit and stay patient at the same time, and realize that, you know, you're still doing what you need to do.

But like I said, when you're hot, just try to push it. That's at least what I do. When it's your day, it's your day, and you can kind of find out early between a couple bounces and things like that. And if it's not, then you just kind of play for the center of the green and kind of go in from there.

Q. Following up on the baseball theme, what team are you a fan of, and what do you think of Aaron Judge?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Aaron Judge is really impressive. We went down to the All-Star Game, I went down with a couple buddies. And I mean, to watch him hit in that Derby was so impressive. Even in batting practice -- this is how much of a nerd -- we went to batting practice for the All-Star Game, and he's hitting these pop flies. They are covering 330, 340, and it looks like he's not even swinging. It's so impressive.

I mean, he's a beast, too. I mean, he is massive. I mean, he's, what, 6'6", I think, 6'7", they say, I don't know. He's impressive to watch. I don't know how he makes it look so easy. It's cool to watch.

I like the fact that he still kind of kept his apartment. He was staying in a hotel for a little bit. He wasn't sure if they were going to release him or not right when they got done, or right when he got called up. It's pretty cool.

My financial people, I guess, work with him, too, and they said he's just the nicest guy. So that's really cool to hear, to have so much success early in his career and be such a good guy.

Q. And your team?
BROOKS KOEPKA: The Astros are my team.

JOHN DEVER: Thank you for your time. Have a good week.

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