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August 7, 2019

Brooks Koepka

Jersey City, New Jersey

MARK WILLIAMS: Brooks, you've obviously come in here leading the FedExCup. You've had a wonderful year, and now we're here back at Liberty National where you've had some experience playing in The Presidents Cup a couple of years ago. I think that's the only time you played here.


MARK WILLIAMS: You've seen the golf course this morning in the Pro-Am. Any changes that you recognize?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I love this place. This golf course is exciting. I think there's about six easy holes where you really have got to make your birdies and then there's about ten tough holes. If you put it in the fairway, you're not exactly still expecting to make par, so it's a very tough golf course. You've got to position yourself well off the tee and then if you miss greens, the lines around the green aren't exactly tight, but the grass, there's no real root system.

So you can very easily duff one and if you're worrying about duffing it, you thin it, and these greens are very -- they have subtle slopes to them. So you never quite have a straight putt. You always feel like the putt is going to snap or there might be a ridge you're always putting over, and they are pretty small greens if you're trying to put it in that quadrant.

This golf course, going back to The Presidents Cup, it's not nearly as firm as it was. It's a little bit softer, so it will be interesting to see what the scores are this week.

Q. This year starts the shared tournament between New York and Boston. Boston as at risk of the tournament not going back there. If that had been the case would you have been disappointed not to be in Boston another year?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I like Boston. A bunch of my buddies live up there, so it's always nice for me to go up there and visit with them and see what they are up to, because obviously we're traveling so much during the year, you don't get to see them.

You know, Boston, it's been good to me and I enjoy that place. So we'll see.

Q. It's such an odd alliance, because the two cities have such rivalries, NFL, MLB, all of it. As a kid, did you have any strong feelings about either town in that sense, or as an adult?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, as a kid, we came up to New York City a couple times. I didn't really go to Boston so much until I got older, until I was in my 20s, early 20s was the first time I came up. One of my best friends lived up there and went to school up there. It's been a place that I've visited quite a bit over the years.

Yeah, it's interesting with the rivalries, and I guess you can Mark this do you know as one of them I guess.

Q. You have been arguably the most vocal critic of slow play. Why?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't think anybody likes waiting. Especially if you're going to be sitting on a tee box for 15 minutes to hit your tee shot. I just don't -- I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you're done thinking about it, just go. What else is there to do? That's been the problem I have.

I mean, yeah, I get that we're out here, we're playing, and there's nothing I can do about it, but at the same time, it's up to the rules officials. What I don't understand is if I hit in the water, I have to take a penalty stroke. It's in the rule book. And then you have 40 seconds to hit a shot. That's in the rule book, too.

So I don't want to take a penalty shot. I mean, so where -- where -- that's in the rule book. They are all in the rule book. So figure it out and penalize somebody.

Q. I wonder if you feel like you've had to do what you've done, the gestures, talking about it, because the powers that be aren't doing anything; that you feel as a player with a platform, you have to take it into your own hands?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think so. I think it's just gotten out of hand. It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can't hit it until they are ready; that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I've done all right. (Laughter) so I don't understand what -- they are taking a minute and a half.

It's just frustrating as a player when you're out there. Sometimes they might be trying to decide what club to hit. Well, you've had a day to think about it, and it's pretty clear what the tee shot is. I mean, I just don't get -- a lot of times it's on the simpler shots. The difficult ones, you already know what to do with it, but it's the simpler ones where guys seem to take their time.

Q. You're at a competitive disadvantage in you're a fast player --
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, I don't care. I've played with slow players a lot. It doesn't bug me. I just don't -- yeah, it might annoy you, but it doesn't affect how I play. I'm not trying to speed up. I'm trying to do the opposite. I've said that. Try to get put on the clock, but doesn't seem to work because nobody will penalize anybody. And you know what, even if I take over 40 seconds, penalize me. I'll be the guinea pig. It doesn't matter. It needs to happen.

Q. Obviously four majors throughout the year, the mind-set of you going into those big tournaments are different than just an every day PGA TOUR event. How is that, going to the Playoffs, do you have the same mind-set as a major championship?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Everybody's made a big deal about my mind-set. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with practice and playing. Like I said, I've been on a long stretch here. I play the week before majors so I know where my game is at. I've played a week before where I've gotten there early and understand where any game is going into Monday, instead of showing up on Monday and trying to figure out where it's been because I've had two weeks off and I haven't touched the club. That's been the difference. That's why you can say I haven't had success in regular TOUR events, because if I've got a week off, I'm doing other things.

Just had a week off there this last week, so it's important. You know how important these three weeks are. Everybody is gunning to jump up a couple spots or reposition themselves for a good place for Atlanta, but it's important for you to get off to a good start because you basically win one of these, and you almost jump up to No. 1, or do you.

Q. A couple of math questions for you. To Karen's question on slow play, curious if you had to assign a percentage to the cause or biggest reason for slow play, how much would you give to size of field, how much to nature of golf course in terms of water hazards or walks from tees to green, and how much to the nature of players to just take their time?
BROOKS KOEPKA: 100 percent on just players taking their time.

Q. All players?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, there's trouble on every golf course. There's bunkers. There's water. There's out-of-bounds. Every golf course I've ever played has one of those things, or just a massive slope where it's a fall and it's a disaster. That should be week-in, week-out what we're dealing with.

You understand; you've played practice rounds. You know exactly. That's why guys show up on Monday. Most of the time, you're playing 18 holes between Tuesday and Wednesday. You already know the golf course. You know where -- I do it, I work backwards.

A lot of times I'm asking where the pin location is on the tee box, so I know where to hit it because that might depend on where you might want to hit it. If you stood in the middle of the fairway and you wanted to drop a ball where you think the perfect spot is, it's pretty obvious what you're going to hit from the tee, isn't it? That would be my suggestion, put it to where you would drop it, just hit that club.

Q. As a guy who didn't exactly grow up in a country club style of living, when you start piling up the amount of money that you've piled up recently in the last couple of years, how much does it mean to you? How much do you ever stop and just think about how much you have?
BROOKS KOEPKA: (Laughs) I've never done that.

Q. Never?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't do it. I get updates from my financial people all the time (laughter) but I don't do it. It doesn't matter to me.

I just love the competition. I always say to people, I think back to when I'm five years old, and you wanted to be the best player in the world. You wanted to be -- I always wanted to be Adam Scott and Tiger Woods and all these guys, right. When I thought about that, all I was thinking about was I wanted to be the best player in the world. When I was ten years old, I never thought about, oh, it's going to come with millions of dollars and all these great things and fame and whatever it wants to be.

The competition is what I'm there for. I enjoy that. That's what I thrive off of. And yes, all the rest of the stuff just happens to come with it.

Q. It's nice, though, right?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it is (smiling).

Q. What was the first big check you got, in your mind?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Fry's. I think it was a sponsor invite. I was in the lead with like nine holes to go, first PGA TOUR and choked it away and Jimmy won it.

Q. How much money did you get? Probably like 200,000 or 300,000?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Something like that, yeah. I don't know, man. It was a long time ago (smiling).

Q. You played alongside Tiger yesterday for nine holes. Based on what you saw yesterday, does it surprise you that he could only chip-and-putt the last nine of his Pro-Am today; stiffness in his back?
BROOKS KOEPKA: That's news to me. I haven't heard anything. I haven't really watched too much -- I know I played with him but I wasn't paying attention to what he was doing. But he looked like he was fine. Looked like he was swinging it good. Hopefully, I guess -- what is it.

Q. Stiff back?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, hopefully it's better. I mean, everything is a lot better with him. It's good for the TOUR; good for the players; good for the fans, the sponsors, everybody, when he plays. I think we all know that. Everybody can see that from TV ratings to everybody -- when he's here, there's a lot more people here. We want him healthy as players. We want him to be at his best and that's what makes it so fun. I think everybody saw that at Augusta, how cool that was. Just as a fan watching it, I know I was playing -- I didn't get to watch any of it, but you could feel it when you were there. You could feel the energy, and it's always exciting. Like I said, it's what you dream about what you're a kid, or that's what I was dreaming about, any ways.

Q. Getting back to the Aon program, they designated a hole on every course. Could you tell that, yeah, that's the right hole they should have picked, and did you have a particular strategy on those holes specifically across the TOUR?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I just had my game plan for whatever the hole -- I thought the best way to play the hole. You know, if you play good, if you play like you're supposed to, everything will kind of fall in your lap and that's kind of how it did.

I knew which hole it was but I wasn't taking a different strategy just because it was the Aon Risk Reward Challenge. It wasn't any different than how I wanted to play because I also wanted to win the golf tournament, too.

Q. How far in advance do you know which hole? Do you know the whole season?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I think during practice rounds, somebody would say something. I mean, you pretty much know which hole it's going to be for every golf course. You can tell. There's definitely a lot of risk/reward.

Q. You said in the past that you find golf a little boring and that you don't really practice much, but you're just talking about the competitive part. Part of you has to love golf and coming down the stretch on Sunday?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I love competing, yeah.

Q. So you don't -- would you say you wouldn't love golf?
BROOKS KOEPKA: No, I love golf. I just like competing. I like doing anything. If we play ping-pong, I'm still going to be pretty intense with you and try to kick your butt. (Laughter).

Doesn't matter what we're doing, I'm super-competitive anything. Doesn't matter what it is. Yes, I like -- I love sports. Sports junkie. I love golf. I think -- I don't understand why when we started talking about slow play, it's 5 1/2 hours. I mean, 5 1/2 hours to play golf is a long time. Everybody's going to get bored.

There's a lot of walking involved. I mean, there's not much action in golf. If you really think about it, you're probably only playing for about five minutes -- maybe six, seven minutes total, and the rest of the time, I'm just walking. You try walking by yourself for four, four and a half hours, and see how boring it gets.

Q. Can you pinpoint what major you were at where you felt like you had the system that was going to work so well for you at major championships; having your chef, the small group, when was that?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I've done that since 2014, I think was the first year I did that at Pinehurst, I believe, was the first year I've done that. It's always been the same thing. It's always the same routine. I don't think -- I'm not superstitious at all, but it's just I like routines. I don't think -- nobody really knows how dedicated I am when I actually show up on the week. I mean, my routine is the same week-in, week-out. There's no -- I don't have time to do anything. I mean, between practicing, playing, going to the gym, doing physio stuff, it's nine, ten hours for me. I probably have the longest hours out of anybody out here. I mean, there's no time for me to go and enjoy the city, to go out. We go to all these beautiful places, but you want to kick your feet up when you're done, so that's kind of the routine we've had where when I get there, it makes it easier for me to have food on the table right when I get back. Chef has done an unbelievable job at this and he makes our life a lot easier, and we try to get away from whatever we're doing. That's been the key for me is just getting my mind off everything, because you know, whether it be in the gym for two hours to 2 1/2, to out here for, you know, the round takes five hours, but we're here an hour, hour and a half before, an hour after, and then your physio treatment, it ends up being -- you spend seven, seven and a half hours at the golf course every day. So just trying to if I can your feet up and relax has been a big key to that and everybody that kind of stays in the house knows that and we've enjoyed it.

Q. If you go into THE TOUR Championship with a 10-stroke lead over the rest of the field, does the rest of the field have a chance?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I mean, everybody's got a chance. 30 guys have got a chance. You never know what anybody is going to do. If I go shoot four rounds of 80, I'm going to finish 30th, won't I.

Q. Are you going to shoot four rounds in the 80s?
BROOKS KOEPKA: I hope not. It's been a while since I've shot in the 80s. Well, maybe not, I don't know. At home -- I played a round at home not too long ago I think I shot in the 80s.

But you know, everybody has a chance. That's what you want. You've got guys that you could be ten behind and all of a sudden, guys like that. Guys like playing from behind. You hear a bunch of people say that, especially, you know, coming into a Sunday, a two-shot lead is nothing. We all know that. So what's the difference between a two-shot lead starting the week, you can grow that playing four; so eight strokes. That seems very reasonable to make up, especially if you're going to play well.

MARK WILLIAMS: Before we wrap up, there's a young lady in the room here. She's with The First Tee, the Bronx Chapter, Madison Rios. She would like to ask you a question.

MADISON RIOS: In The First Tee, they teach us nine Core Values, and the one I would like to ask you a question about is perseverance. If you have a bad round one day, how do you know that you're going to get better how do you know that you're going to persevere and move on from that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it's something that I've always tried to do my best at. You look at, you have a bad round or you have a bad day; you know what, I'm looking forward to the next day because I know it's going to be better. I know -- you know, everybody has bad days. Everybody has bad days on the golf course.

And at the same time, for me, I'm going to do what I love to do every single day. It's still a game for me. It's not anything else. You look at persevering through Challenge Tour, all these different places I've ever been, and it's always an experience, always something I've learned from, in a matter what it is. Even if it's a bad day, you can learn a little bit about how you handle it, how maybe why things weren't so good; maybe you procrastinated a little bit, whatever it might be.

So the next time, your bad day isn't as bad, and you can always build up on that. I mean, I'm still learning (smiling). I'm still learning. So there's a lot I can learn.

MARK WILLIAMS: Appreciate your time.

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