home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 12, 2018

Brooks Koepka

Southampton, New York

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome again to the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

Really pleased to welcome this afternoon the defending champion, Brooks Koepka, who last year claimed the trophy at Erin Hills by four strokes to claim the 2017 Championship.

Brooks, can you talk -- first, can you believe that a year has passed already? And then can you reflect on what the past year has been like as a U.S. Open champion?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it's crazy how fast this year has kind of flown by. Obviously, last year was pretty special. Any time you can win a Major, U.S. Open, it's what you dream of as a little kid.

It's gone by a little too quick, but hopefully this year, just keep -- I'm playing well right now, so just continue what I'm doing.

THE MODERATOR: You are one of many USGA champions who are actually on the property today. I realize that you're really focused on your defense, but there is an event going on this afternoon, the Celebration of Champions, which will recognize all of the 2017 USGA champions. I know you're planning to head out there this afternoon after you leave us today.

Can you talk a little bit about that event and what it means to be in that class of inaugural champions for that event?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I saw a few of them out there practicing a little bit ago. The Celebration of Champions, I think, is a cool idea. I think it's special to get all the USGA champions together. I think it's really, really unique, and especially to showcase it at the U.S. Open is truly special for them and, you know, their families and everyone that's kind of been a part of their win or whatever they're doing. But it's unique, and it will be fun.

THE MODERATOR: We look forward to seeing you out there. Real quickly, you said you came last week to see Shinnecock for the first time and have been here for a few days. Can you give us initial impressions of the golf course and the test that awaits everyone this week?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think it's going to be -- it all kind of depends on the wind, to be honest with you. We came last week, played Tuesday, and the golf course was pretty soft. So it's starting to firm up a little bit. I think you can see it's becoming a little bit more linksy around the greens. It's starting to firm up. The pitching areas are definitely a little firmer. The balls aren't quite stopping on the greens the way they were.

But the fairways are pretty generous. You should be able to hit them, but it will really be a second shot golf course.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it to questions.

Q. Brooks, can you talk about the crazy year where you have the high of an Open championship and the low of the wrist injury and how, in retrospect, that all kind of went together?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah. I mean, you go from playing some of the best golf I've probably ever played to probably being at the lowest point professionally that I've been. It wasn't easy.

The past, I guess, six months, maybe eight months, we kind of -- we knew about the wrist injury a little bit longer than we told people. But I knew it was bugging me and just couldn't quite figure out what it was. Thankfully, we've got it situated now where I'm 100 percent past it. But I'll tell you what, it was a long four months. It wasn't anything I'd wish upon anybody.

Q. Brooks, guys talk all the time about learning something when they win a Major Championship. Was there anything that occurred during the U.S. Open last year that stands out that maybe you learned reflected on and learned from?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think the one thing that I really did learn was you just need to hang around. I feel like you've just got to have a chance. I felt like I've knocked on the door a few times and just kind of fell back, whether it be -- the PGA a couple years ago, I felt like I had a good chance. I was injured there too, unfortunately.

But as long as you can put yourself in the position to be there on Sunday with nine to play, it's amazing how -- I don't want to say it's easy to win a Major Championship, but if you put yourself in that, the correct spot where you need to be and you play good golf, it's amazing how things turn out.

When you start dealing with pressure, things like -- I mean, one bad hole. It's just kind of how you react. But I think the one thing I learned is patience. Just be there with nine to play. It takes two holes to recover from a double and one to recover from a bogey, so wherever you're going to make your mistake, make it at a bogey.

I feel like every Major Championship, we do a pretty good job of that. I feel like we're always hanging around the top ten. To finally win one was so gratifying, to be honest with you. Hopefully do it again this week.

Q. Brooks, back to the wrist injury. Was the lowest point because of the pain? Because you weren't certain what the injury was? How it might impact the future of your career? And how have you been able to bounce back so quickly?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think the lowest point was probably -- to be honest with you, it was the fact that I probably gained about 15 pounds. Looking in the mirror wasn't quite fun. Being in a cast, like a soft cast, and not being able to pick up anything, not being able to do anything. I mean, I was basically -- I'd go to the gym, but it was like we couldn't run, couldn't do anything, just very light activity, ride the bike.

And then it's just no fun sitting on your couch. Once you watch all the TV shows you're going to watch, it's like what else am I going to do? I mean, the days are so long. It's not fun. I don't wish it upon anyone.

But, you know, coming back quickly, I feel like my body recovers pretty quickly. I feel like it was -- don't get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work for about a month there, once we got the all clear, run to do everything, you know, taking all the right steps, the rehab, doing everything we needed to do, it's amazing how strong you can get so quickly.

THE MODERATOR: When you step up to the tee on Thursday and they announce you as the 2017 U.S. Open champion, how do you think you'll feel in terms of emotions? There's certainly an excitement, and there's a lot of pride in that. Are there also some additional nerves and additional pressure that come as a result?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know if there's any added pressure. I feel like, if there would be, it would be just me putting it on myself. I don't think -- when I step up on the tee and they announce the defending U.S. Open champion, it's a cool feeling. You kind of get a little more pumped up, I guess you could say, a little more excited. That's pretty cool. I can only imagine how Tiger feels when they start rattling off, you know, 14 Majors.

They've done it a few tournaments, and it is a good feeling. It makes you feel really good when you're teeing off and kind of gives you a little extra motivation, I guess you could say.

Q. Brooks, this is a much different type question. Erin Hills -- talk a little bit about the differences and maybe how your approach might be a little different.
BROOKS KOEPKA: To be honest with you, I think they're actually kind of similar.

Q. In what ways?
BROOKS KOEPKA: The fairways are obviously not as wide, but I think the fairways out here are pretty generous. I feel like you've got -- the second shot is a couple of run-off areas around the greens where you've got the option to putt it if you want or you could chip it.

But it's -- like Erin Hills, it's a second shot golf course. That's how I see it. I feel like you've got to position your iron play, put it in the right spots, put it below the hole, things like that. And to be honest with you, if it keeps firming up the way it has over the last two days, it could be a little links style too. I could see that. Pitching just short of the green, running up, things like that.

And the wind's only going to dry it out, but I think there's rain in the forecast for tomorrow, I believe, I think. So it depends how much rain. But I think the golf course sets up somewhat similar.

THE MODERATOR: Is there any specific strategy for any -- there are obviously some holes here that are better known than others. Are there any holes, when you start the round, you really look at as ones to focus on?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, Shinnecock, the par 3s, I think, are so difficult. They're not the longest. The greens are very undulating. To be honest with you, it's the same shot into every par 3 every single day. No matter where the pin is, you're looking to pitch it on 7, make sure your miss is left without a doubt, and you're trying to pitch it about eight on and try to keep it 12 on if you can, somewhere in that region. And you just take whatever putt you've got.

Then the 11th hole, you're trying to pitch it five or six. Five on, maybe, and then leave yourself with whatever putt you have. The par 3s are crucial. I think you'll see some big numbers there. And I think, especially if you start missing it on the wrong side of the hole here, you can kind of play ping-pong back and forth.

THE MODERATOR: Speaking of the par 5s, someone asked earlier, one of your fellow players who is in the field, if they felt like, if they made pars at all the par 5s, would they feel like they were losing strokes, or would they be satisfied with par 5s on those holes?

Given your length, how do you feel about that, knowing that it's a U.S. Open setup and what comes with that? When you go into the par 5s, what's your mindset there?

BROOKS KOEPKA: First off, hit the fairway. That would be the first mindset. As far as playing it under par or level par, to be honest, it all depends on the wind. You look at the 16th hole, it's playing directly in the wind today. I roasted a drive, a 3 iron, and still had an 8 iron in.

Obviously, the tees could be up 40, 50 yards. The wind could switch a little bit where you could actually get to the green in two. But to be honest with you, I don't really set anything, set any mark to go to, because I think you're limiting yourself when you set a mark. But I think as long as -- as long as you're putting the ball in the fairway and keeping it out of the hay, I think you'll be just fine.

Q. You said you're 100 percent. What's your expectation, if you have any, coming into this week as a defending champion?
BROOKS KOEPKA: The only reason I'm here is to win. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have signed up. I think everyone here is trying to win. Everyone thinks they're going to win, and they should. When you come to a golf tournament, you're preparing to win. You're not going to be satisfied with second place. I don't think I've ever heard anybody say, man, I'm glad I finished second.

So, you know, I'm looking forward to this week. I'm playing well. I feel like I always play well at U.S. Opens. I play very conservative, middle of the greens a lot of times, and I feel like Major Championships are kind of where I shine.

Q. I'm sure you've spent the year enjoying being announced on the 1st tee as the U.S. Open champion. Do you think that's going to feel any different when you're announced that on the 1st tee of the U.S. Open? And how will that affect your 1st tee shot and what club you might hit, if it would?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, I'll be teeing off on 10 the first day, so that probably won't affect anything with a 3 or 4 iron, depending on where the wind is.

But, I mean, yeah, it's going to be a great feeling. Any time you can come back to a place or a tournament where you're defending, I think it's always special. You've always got good memories.

The first Major I ever played was the U.S. Open. I think it was -- where was that? Olympic, I believe. And to finally win one, being the first Major that I've won is pretty special. So the U.S. Open's always got a special place in my heart.

Q. Brooks, I was just wondering, they told me that yesterday you hit, on No. 1, that you drove it in the greenside bunker. I don't know if that's true. That's what I heard. I was wondering, on day one, if you had a strong east wind, would you take a shot at the green?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I would. It all depends on the wind. I mean, if it's down off the left or down at all, you can -- we put driver in the greenside bunker yesterday. I feel like -- like I said, the fairways are pretty generous so you've got -- to be honest with you, downwind, it's kind of hard to hit it offline. So if it is straight down, I don't see a reason why we wouldn't.

Maybe pin location might have a lot to do with that, whether it's up front. I mean, you could put the pin in some places where you just need to be in the fairway and --

Q. Did you try for it today?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I didn't play 1 today. I just played the back nine today. Obviously, it's an option, and it just depends where the wind is.

Q. So, Brooks, if there is no wind, basically -- not much, maybe two, three, four miles, whatever it is -- what is the defense -- what defense does this golf course have?
BROOKS KOEPKA: The undulating greens. You can put these pins in some spots where, if you just get a little too aggressive, I mean, as you're hitting your pitch shot for birdie or whatever, you're thinking how am I just going to make 5 or bogey? It doesn't matter.

I mean, some of these places where they could have the pins could be quite difficult. You almost feel like every pitch you have, you're either chipping straight up the hill or you're chipping straight up the hill where you need to pitch it and then it goes straight downhill and the ball is just going to keep running. Your short game, your touch has got to be on point if you're going to miss quite a few greens.

But you just need to leave yourself with the uphill chips at this place. I think -- you know, you look at 7, for example. You need to be pitching up the hill or in the bunker going up the hill. I mean, if you miss it right, you're going to be -- your third shot is going to be down from the left pitching area.

So, you know, you're better off hitting it there in one than you are in two. It's all about your misses at this place. I think, you know, you look at even the 18th hole. I mean, the green's very slopey. There's only a few pin locations, I think. It will be quite interesting to see where they put them for the fact of -- I mean, if you just miss it by five yards, you're just sitting there thinking, how am I going to make bogey? And that's kind of the thought through that.

THE MODERATOR: Brooks, thanks for joining us today. Thanks for being such a wonderful U.S. Open champion. We look forward to watching you defend this week.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297