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August 7, 2018

Brooks Koepka

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club. Pleased to be joined by Brooks Koepka, two-time defending U.S. Open champion. And Brooks, welcome to what is your sixth PGA Championship.

Of course, you've won U.S. Opens the last couple years at Erin Hills, Shinnecock, and those are venues you had never competed on before, and just this same scenario we have here this week, you've never competed before here. Are you good in new surroundings.

BROOKS KOEPKA: I'm just dealing with what I'm dealt with. Not seeing the golf course, you got to do a little bit of extra research. I played those, both those courses when I was an amateur, and so I did have a little bit of knowledge, but this place I got nothing. So I saw nine holes yesterday, today hopefully, if the rain stays away, maybe see a few more on the front side. But it's a place not many people have seen too much, which is nice, so I don't feel like I'm too far behind the eight ball.

THE MODERATOR: Of course you didn't play at Augusta this year. Does the fact that you're only playing three Majors this year, does it make extra -- every opportunity extra special as you look at it?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it does. I feel like it was disappointing not being able to play at Augusta, but when you take four months off, you really appreciate it, and you're eager to get back out here. Any time you can tee it up, especially only doing three Majors, it's, it makes every one a little bit more important. I kind of fell back in love with the game a little bit.

And it can be very repetitive and be somewhat -- you know, kind of consume you, I guess, and having four months off, having something I love being taken away from me makes you really appreciate being out here and definitely have a new look on it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Justin is trying to do something that you did, which is go back-to-back with a major championship, but he's also trying to do something that you tried to do, which is go consecutive weeks of winning on the TOUR. You went from Shinnecock to Hartford. What's the bigger challenge, having gone through it, consecutive weeks or consecutive years?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well they're both not easy. Consecutive weeks is probably a little bit tougher. I'm sure he's riding a bit of a high from last week, and part of it is just coming out and having everybody congratulate you, get that out of the way, see everybody, and just kind of move on to the next week. You got to kind of live week by week out here. You can't really focus on what happened last week.

But to defend your Major is pretty tough. There's a reason that there's only a handful of guys that have ever done it, and I'm sure he's looking to do that this week, but everybody else out here is trying to knock him off.

Q. A couple things. How much -- what was your plan coming into the week on a course you've never seen, and what do you have to do now to adjust with the rain? And secondly, having played Canada, and this gives you four in a row with FedExCup, Ryder Cup coming up, how do you keep from getting bored with the game again?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, the golf course I think, try to make sure I've got all the sight lines down. That's kind of usually what I try to do Monday, Tuesday. Then Wednesday just spend a bunch of time around the greens, make sure that you've got the wedges dialed in from 50 yards, what's it going to do, is it going to take one bounce and check, one bounce release. Here this week it's pretty much going to stop wherever it lands.

Make sure that you know for certain pins where you can miss it off the tee, which holes you can be a little bit more aggressive. All that goes into play, but I'll have that done by today. I haven't seen the front nine yet, hopefully see it this afternoon if this rain holds off, but yeah, you just try to, looking at the yardage book. You rely quite a bit on the caddies. My caddie, he's probably walked the golf course two, maybe three times already, so he should know quite a bit about where I should be hitting it and where I shouldn't. What was the second one?

Q. The schedule coming up?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Oh, yeah, well, I had a weekend off in Canada, so that was nice. I mean, I got a lot of golf I'm going to be playing here. I'm missing -- I think this is only my 11th start of the year. Be playing quite a bit from now and finishing the playoffs and then Ryder Cup. I think that's -- you're always trying to peak for the playoffs and especially the Ryder Cup coming up, and then to have it be such a long stretch of golf is try to take breaks whenever you can.

I went home, in Canada, and tried to spend an extra day there. Didn't get up to Firestone until Tuesday. I thought that would help, a little bit of rest. Then after this week, a week off, and try to put the clubs away for five or six days and then get back into it.

Q. To follow-up on what you said that you fell back in love with the game, when you were watching it from afar, what did you miss the most?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I just missed competing. That was it. It can get a little bit lonely when you're just sitting on the couch. I couldn't do anything, couldn't exercise. I really couldn't do anything. I said I think only three guys texted me, and I think it was Bubba, Phil and I saw D.J. quite a bit, but it just feels like you're forgotten about quite a bit. And being out here, you miss being in competition, you miss being in the hunt, trying to win.

You miss -- you feel like I guess part of your life's just been put on hold for awhile. It's not fun. I went through a little bit of a phase where I really didn't want to do anything for a while. And then to finally come back, that excitement level, to be hitting balls again, there was nobody more excited, still nobody more excited to be playing than me.

Q. We're in St. Louis, just the baseball fan in you, what do you know and cherish about the St. Louis Cardinals? Dick Groat was on a championship team here. What's your Cardinals knowledge like?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I know he played for the Cardinals, won a World Series with them. I do know that, but other than that, not a big Cardinals fan, if I'm honest. So I'll leave it at that.

THE MODERATOR: Astros, right.


THE MODERATOR: Yeah, longtime division rival.

Q. This is the 100th PGA Championship. Would that be extra significant for you to win this week?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Absolutely. You're always trying to win a Major, but to make it on the century mark would be pretty cool. Then to top that off with winning two Majors in one year, I think that would be pretty special. With the way the year started and how it looked and to be in a position I am right now, it's been pretty incredible going to thinking that I might not ever play again, might not be able to even play the same way, to winning a Major and hopefully having a chance here to finish it off in the playoffs, one Major left, and be on the Ryder Cup team is pretty, I'm pretty thankful.

Q. For a guy who kind of took your path and started the way you did on the overseas Challenge Tour, etcetera, did you ever feel like you had something to prove? And if so, does that ever stop?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, you always feel like you've got something to prove, whether it be to yourself or somebody else. I can think of plenty of people along the way telling me I'm no -- I'll be nothing, working at McDonald's, doing things like that. The whole time, you're just trying to prove them wrong. You're always trying to prove somebody wrong. Sometimes your haters, I guess, are your biggest motivators.

People, if they're, whatever it might be, growing up, in college, through right when you turn pro, there's always people that are going to doubt you, say you can't do it, and you're always trying to prove them wrong. Even now you're just trying to be, to prove everybody wrong. That's the way I view it. I'm always trying to get to that next level. I kind of use it as motivation and never -- I don't take it personally. I'm just trying to use it as extra motivation.

Q. You got two U.S. Opens now.
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, what am I supposed to say? I'm satisfied with that? You want to keep adding to the list and keep progressing. I think that's the big key. As long as every tournament, every year, you're getting better and better, that's all that matters. I think that I've done a good job of that so far and just need to continue that. And the goal now is just to get to No. 1 and just keep winning Majors, keep winning golf tournaments, be more consistent.

Canada was the first cut I missed in about a year and a half, and that pissed me off a lot, and I liked the streak that I was going on. And I'm trying to get back to that, make sure that when I'm not playing my best, I'm still making cuts, finishing top-20, things like that. And when you do have your best or pretty solid game, you're right there in contention and winning the golf tournament.

Q. We are here at a major championship, obviously. Curious, though, when you start thinking about Ryder Cup? Does it wait until after this? Have you already thought about it? When does that gear kick in, and did you think about it when you weren't playing for those three or four months?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I thought about it when I wasn't playing. I think that was probably the time when I thought about it the most. Right now I'm so focused on this event, and then you take it week by week. I think that's something -- the best advice I ever got out here is just focus on what you've got right now, don't let other weeks bleed into this week, and don't carry them over. Canada, missed the cut, and then went out last week and played great. Just got to leave it. You can't let things carry over to the golf course. You hit one bad shot, you're not going to let it bleed over into a couple holes.

And I think I'll start thinking about Ryder Cup when that week rolls around. You got a major championship, you got the playoffs, and trying to win that FedExCup, and then from that point, when that's over, I'll be thinking about the Ryder Cup.

Q. To follow-up on that, who gave you that advice, and what sort of advice do you give your brother these days when you talk with him?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Actually, that was advice I just gave to him. Make sure you take it one week at a time. Don't let the game consume you. He's going -- he's not playing his best right now. He knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You can't let it bleed over into your life. You can't let it affect your life. How you do one week shouldn't affect your happiness.

It's something -- it takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of effort to do that, and when you find that good balance of golf and leaving it on the golf course is when you start to actually play better, I think.

Q. Following up on that question, after your win at Shinnecock, we heard people say that that validated your win at Erin Hills. Not that you've ever felt a need to validate that win, but were you aware of the fact that people were looking for that kind of validation, that they looked at it as sort of a one-off experience?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I think a lot of people thought it was just a one-off. I didn't. I don't think anybody in my team did. I've got high expectations. I knew what level I want to get to, and people were complaining about the golf course at Erin Hills, and I can only -- we can only play what they give us. It's not like we get to choose what golf course we want to play in every week.

I mean, I can't do anything that the wind didn't blow. Finished off 16-under, whatever I shot was the winning score, I mean, what am I supposed to do? I mean, they're great players, that week you miss the cut, D.J., Rory, they missed the cut. Obviously, it's a hard golf course if you don't put it in play, and then to come back the next year and then validate that with a win was special.

I don't think, not having to be -- not being looked at as the favorite but still defending was quite an interesting feel, I guess you could say. I felt like I was playing really well leading up to it, and like I said, I was excited to be there. And there's a different feeling when you show up and you're defending. You're excited. You can't wait to get out there. You're not anxious that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday would be over, but you're just excited to get that ball in the air on Thursday.

Q. So that actually motivated you? Coming out of Erin Hills, that actually motivated you going in?

Q. The doubt that people had at Erin Hills.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, any time somebody's going to doubt you, the first thing, it goes back to at Erin Hills, Pete Cowan sat me down on the range, I think on Tuesday, and just chewed me out and told me I was -- it was something I needed to hear, that I was no good, that I was never going to win a Major, was never going to win a golf tournament again, but I think that's the sign of a great coach. They know exactly what motivates you, what gets you going, and gets me fired up and ready to play. He knew which buttons to push that week, and he did a good job of pushing them. Any time anybody tells me I can't do something, I just can't wait to prove you wrong.

Q. Two things. First of all, have you ever worked at McDonald's?

Q. Okay. When you were -- pre U.S. Open wins, Pinehurst was a big deal because it basically got your card and got you in the Masters and all that. But for this tournament, I'm wondering how much affection or good memory you have of, I want to say Baltusrol, where you're coming off an injury on the bubble for the Ryder Cup and basically played your way on to the team.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I always seem to play well at PGA Championships. I play well at the U.S. Opens. I don't know what it is, whether it's the way they set the golf course up, I've enjoyed it. I seem to play well every time, and it's the last Major you're going to play for about seven months so you might as well finish on a high note.

THE MODERATOR: Brooks Koepka, thank you, sir. Enjoy your week in St. Louis.

BROOKS KOEPKA: Thanks. Appreciate it.

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