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April 12, 2019

Brooks Koepka

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, like to welcome Brooks Koepka to the media center. Brooks, you shot 71 today with five birdies. How do you feel about your round and coming into the weekend?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I felt like when I played well today, I really played well. Just kind of No.2, I don't know what happened there. Pulled a drive and hit it a little off the toe and went in the trees. But stayed in the trees for a while and made 7.
But missed a couple short putts I thought I should have made, and just go work on that now.

Q. Jack Nicklaus was saying one of don't‑go‑places here was left of 2. What is down there?
BROOKS KOEPKA: There's a creek.

Q. Were you in the creek?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No. I was in the pine straw, then hit the tree, bounced on the cart path, went all the way down into the hazard. Eventually I found my way there, and then you know, took a drop, punched out and hit on the green and 2‑putted.

Q. Your second shot went in the hazard?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, my second shot.

Q. Can you talk about how today wound up being a successful day for you in a completely different way than yesterday was?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, really was. Yesterday everything seemed to click. And today, when I was hot, I was hot. When it's as difficult of a wind as it is today, it's not blowing very hard, so you get some gusts that are downwind and then all of a sudden they are into the wind, two seconds later. It makes it quite difficult.
But I mean, I really could have shot in the 60s very easily if I just would have made some 4‑footers.

Q. You talked yesterday about how your mind‑set at a major helped you recover on 8. Did that play a part in your recovery after six holes‑‑
BROOKS KOEPKA: Could you repeat the question, sorry, couldn't hear you.

Q. You spoke yesterday how your mind‑set at majors help you recover from your three‑putt on 8. Did that help you today after the start and the way you finished your last eleven holes at 2‑under after the two bogeys and the double bogey?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I don't really care. You're going to be tested in a major championship one way or another, and you know, I've just got to deal with whatever comes. I hit a bad shot; just got to suck it up and just keep going on. You've got a lot of holes left, and you can make up some ground.
Thankfully it wasn't on the 18th hole where you need a par to win or something. Just got to keep battling and see where I leave myself tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Can you talk about the 18th hole, how big was it to get that birdie going into the weekend?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it was really nice. Great drive. Had about‑‑ I think it was 135 to the hole, something like that. The pin is in a very accessible spot today, and being on the front, hit a good shot in there. Then left myself the putt I've been struggling with all day, a downhill left‑to‑righter. I just told myself I wasn't going to miss it right, like the rest of them, and it dribbled in there on the left edge at the last second, which is always nice to finish on a birdie and feel a little bit better about the round.

Q. In the TV interview after your round, you were asked what you think about tomorrow, and you said nothing, on the tee, and I'm‑‑ could you talk a little more about that, although I know it's nothing‑‑ but also about maybe how people overthink and overanalyze, and you're just saying, hey, I'm going to go out and play, assuming that's what your point was, is that the right way to go?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I've been playing this game for 22, 23 years. Nothing is going to change overnight. I know how to play the game. I just know how to hit the ball. I know I'm going to go out there and go do what I normally do. I'm not trying to, you know‑‑ just because it's a major on a Saturday, I'm not going to go out and do anything different. Just go tee it up, look where I want to hit it and fire at it.
Nothing changes. It almost feels like you're just hitting balls on the range. I'm not thinking about, man, if I make birdie here, this is going to happen. I think that's when you feel pressure, when you start thinking about results.
So I just don't think about anything, and just kind of move on to the next shot.

Q. It's a great game plan to be even keel out there and not ride the high‑highs and low‑lows, but is it hard to do at this place? There's so much excitement and it's a great start to the major season. Is it a bigger challenge here than other places?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't think so. I mean, you can't win it on Friday. So there's no point in getting too excited on a Friday and wasting your energy or whatever it might be. You've still got a lot of golf to play. So you've just got to hang in there.
Yeah, it's always nice when the fans are so respectful here. It's an enjoyable place to make a birdie because everybody is cheering for you.
But you've just got to get on and focus. That's done with and focus on the next tee shot.

Q. Have you ever gotten excited between holes 1 and 71?
BROOKS KOEPKA: (Smiling) I don't know. Maybe in a Ryder Cup.
No, I don't think I really have. Maybe a little fist‑pump here and there, but not too much.

Q. Is it wrong to think that this is a par 68 for you or Dustin or other players of your power, and if it's wrong, why?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know. Probably I'd say par would be 69 for us. There's going to be one par 5 you might not be able to go at just because of the wind, or just try‑‑ like 15, you're just trying to put it long, a little bit past the pin always, so you've got at least an easy chip, depending on where it is, or right of it. And sometimes you can find yourself on these par 5s, 50 feet away, and that's a difficult two‑putt on some of these greens.
You just try to birdie all the par 5s. Didn't do a good job of that today with No.2, but that's really where you try to make up some ground.

Q. I know it's not the start you wanted, but can you take some special satisfaction in the way you battled back after a round like today?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think so. I'm proud of myself the way I hung in there. I didn't come right back and birdie 3; I'm usually pretty good at that. My bounce‑back stats are pretty good, and I never get‑‑ I think part of that is just because my temperament, I never get too down, and just focus on the next one.
But to be where I'm at, as badly as I putted and hit the ball today, I'm pleased with it.

Q. When you talk about your mind‑set and just kind of going out like you're just hitting balls on the range, is that something that's always come very naturally to you, or is it something that you've had to kind of train your brain to do?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think I said in one of the interviews earlier today, I probably learned the most at Fry's when I lost. I had the lead going into the back nine of my first TOUR event and started thinking about if I won, I got a TOUR card, all this other stuff. Didn't go very well.
So I told myself, I'd never think about it again, never think about winning, never think about what might come of a shot. Just go hit it. I'm not trying to hit it in the water. I'm not trying to hit it out‑of‑bounds. I'm not trying to hit it in the trees. I'm trying to hit it either in the fairway or right next to the flag.
I'm human. I'm going to make some mistakes, and you've just got to deal with it.

Q. After two days of competition, how do you think the changes on No. 5 have shaken out?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, it depends where the wind direction is going to be. I think if it's going to be playing into the wind, it's going to be a very tough hole. I mean, I made par on it both days, so seems to be all right. I think it's easier for the longer hitters now, we can hit driver, and if it's downwind, week can even carry the bunkers, where before I was hitting 3‑wood.

Q. How does it work with the chef from the Floridian? Does he just cook what he wants to cook for you, or do you put in a request? And what's your favorite meal that he puts in front of you?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think he pretty much knows what I like to eat. I eat a lot of chicken, a lot of fish. I eat pretty healthy. I think the favorite thing he cooks is chicken quinoa and vegetables. Had it last night. It was nice. He decides what's on the he menu. He decides what we're going to be eating every night, and he just knows what I like. I mean, after working with him for four or five years, he's got it down pat.

Q. Would you compare the setup of the golf course the last two days, the two rounds, how it played condition‑wise, firmness, that type of thing, hole locations, the first two rounds?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I thought yesterday was‑‑ it made it a little bit easier yesterday. I thought the wind was‑‑ it might have been a little bit stronger, but it was always coming out of one direction. Today it's so light and you get in these trees and it funnels down them, and one second it's downwind and one second it's into.
Today I thought was definitely gettable; if you put the ball in the fairway, gave yourself some good looks, I thought you really could shoot a number today. I didn't do that, but I think there's a number for somebody out there in the afternoon.

Q. I understand your attitude and how you approach a major championship. Do you think your attitude is an advantage over other players?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know if it's‑‑ I don't know if it's my attitude. I just think I know I can beat a lot of people mentally.
I know some people don't think I'm mentally tough, or tough in general, but I think I am. I think I've proven that with three trophies. I feel like no matter how things are going, whether they are going really well or really poorly out there, I can grind it out, and especially during a major.
I know just to hang in there because there's always something around the corner.

Q. I don't know how well you know Justin Harding, if you do at all, but he's won five times since the last Masters, at the Royal Swazi (Zambia Open) and Lombard Insurance and tournaments no one else has really played. From your Challenge Tour days, can you speak to what kind of confidence one gets from winning, regardless of the tour, and what it's like when you first get to a serious field?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think he's obviously played really well. It's been fun to watch. Any time you win, you're going to pick something up, build some confidence.
You know, he's obviously done that. I feel like if he‑‑ I don't know, this is his first Masters, right? I mean, I remember the first time I played, I just was in awe of everything, the first time I was here, and you just find yourself looking around a lot, seeing all these slopes, where to play it from here, and sometimes you can get too caught up in that instead of just firing at the flag.
You know, you've got a slope on the right in case you push it, instead of just aiming at the slope and trying to bring it down, which you've seen guys do.
So it will be interesting to see how he handles it. He's obviously doing all right‑‑ what, 7‑under, so he seems to be doing just fine.

Q. Have you ever consulted with someone about how to handle major championships, pressure, some of the game's greats, or is it just a case of you figuring it out yourself?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I figured it out myself. I don't really ask too many people what‑‑ how to go about it in a major championship. I think I've come up with a good game plan. I just know mentally that I'm going to be there, and no matter how bad I'm playing, no matter what's going on, I'll be able to find it. I really get excited. I know it doesn't look it, but I'm always excited to get to the grounds and be there and ready to tee it up.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Brooks. Have a great weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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