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April 9, 2024

Brooks Koepka

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. We are pleased to welcome reigning PGA Champion Brooks Koepka to the interview room. Brooks has now won five major championships within the last six years. That is quite an achievement.

Brooks, welcome back to Augusta National. You were in contention throughout the Tournament last year in super challenging weather conditions and have now finished runner-up twice at the Masters in 2019 and 2023. What is it about Augusta National that brings the best out of your game?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I wish I knew. I could do it more often. No, I just think there's just something special about this place. You kind of drive down Magnolia Lane and it gets the juices flowing. And I think everybody that drives down it gets pretty excited. And, you know, first major of the year. And that's what you play the game for, is to win here, win a major, and that's the goal.

THE MODERATOR: Good. First question?

Q. You have now got as many major championships as, if I've got my facts right, Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros and Peter Thomson. Is that type of thing important to you, or is it really, for you, more about just going out and playing golf and winning?

BROOKS KOEPKA: During the moment it's about going to play golf and go do you what I do. But there's 19 other people in front of me, I do know that.

Q. Last year you proved that the game is back and you can compete at the highest level here at the majors, but I'm curious where's your health at? Are you still 100 percent back to the old Brooks Koepka, or are there still things that you deal with on week-to-week basis when you're competing?

BROOKS KOEPKA: No, I feel good. I've worked my tail off over the last couple -- maybe year and a half, just getting back into shape, making sure everything's right. And been going since December getting ready for this.

So, yeah, excited to see where I'll be at this week.

Q. You had a lot of success here. Has your preparation changed at all over the years the more you learn about Augusta National? And do you learn anything new from the practice rounds still, or is it just lock in the game?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Same thing. Still got the same game plan. I feel like I've played this place enough. It's all about angles, certain pin locations being in a certain spot. I don't know, sometimes occasionally they throw a new pin location, but usually they're pretty similar to where they have been over the last few years. And you know if like on 13, if it's a back left, you want to -- if you're laying it up, lay it up a little further left, it's a little flatter, but every other pin you're going to the right. Just little stuff like that.

Q. Curious what it's been like juggling being a dad this year and playing pro golf?

BROOKS KOEPKA: That's the best, it really is. I don't know. It was the coolest moment of my life, having him. And he'll be out tomorrow at the Par 3, him and Jena. So I'm super excited for that. Even last week he came out Friday for the first round, and that was pretty special for me, just to see him. He's not going to remember it, but just having him there and seeing the first time he's ever seen me hit a golf ball.

So, yeah, it's special. It's special for me, and I'm sure it is for Jena, and tomorrow will be a lot of fun.

Q. Have you learned anything about yourself like in the process of being a parent?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I have. Definitely a lot more patient. It's the coolest experience. Every day just seems to get better and better. And everybody I talk to, it's like just wait, wait a few years. And then, who knows, by the time he's 17 or 18 he's going to hate me. So it is what it is.

Q. I think you mentioned at Oak Hill last year that you had learned what happened Sunday here a year ago and wouldn't let it happen again, and I was wondering if you could expound on that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I think you said it. It's pretty simple. I wasn't going to let it happen. I'm not going to share it. But, yeah, I think if I get the chance this year, I won't be thinking that way.

Q. I ask about the same question, how do you feel about being a dad, and talk about how being a dad affected your play, and how do you feel about the first Masters as a dad?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it will be cool. Just trying to set a good example for him. I know he's too young to understand what's going on and anything like that, but just for the years down the road. Not trying to be perfect but just trying to be the best man I can be for him and set a good example.

Q. Do you have anything come to the mind when you're playing golf at all?

BROOKS KOEPKA: In general?

Q. When you're playing golf, do you have anything in mindset changed after being dad?

BROOKS KOEPKA: No, I think maybe if anything has changed it's kind of lightened my mood when, like even this past weekend, I didn't play very well, but I was still excited to come home and see him and come play with him. It's not -- golf's what I do, it's not my entire life, and I think that just kind of reinforces that.

Q. What kind of emotions and energy do you get when you see the Green Jackets on property this week?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I want one. That's kind of what goes through my mind. No, but it's fun. It's good to see everybody. You build relationships over the years. And it's funny, I actually hadn't seen Jimmy Dunne all week, and then I was just talking with my caddie, Ricky, we were in the caddie hut, and in walks Jimmy. So just ironic.

So it's good to see everybody hadn't seen, you know, in a year, pretty much.

Q. I think people love to see you taking good shots, love to see you win, but my question is do you remember any specific moment that make you feel a little bit struggling at Augusta but which later turned out to be very helpful to your career?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know, I think there's -- you pick up maybe something each year you play. There's sometimes like when I hit it in the water on 12 in 2019, when Tiger won, I hit a good shot, nothing I can do, maybe got about five feet too high with the wind. I was three back on that tee. So I was thinking I needed to press.

And anything can happen on this back nine. So maybe if there was something to learn, just play it way out left. But at the time I was three back. So it's tough to play that entire back nine and make up any shots.

And then looking at it from last year, just didn't play great, but I think that had to do more with my attitude or with the way I was thinking. But each year you learn a little bit more and try to progress every year.

Q. You seem to mostly stay in your own world, do your own thing. Are there any of your peers that you look at and try to emulate or look up to or try to take things from as you're building your game?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I've always said this numerous times. I think, when I was first coming out, it was Graeme McDowell and Dustin.

I was a bit of a hothead coming out in college. So Dustin's attitude, nonchalant attitude, being able to laugh -- I remember, he might not even remember this, I was watching Doral, might have been 2014 or 2015, he hit it right on like 14, tried to punch it out. It hit the corner of the cart path and basically bounced back where it was, and he just laughed at it. And I would have exploded at that at the time. But the fact he was able to find that kind of funny kind of changed the way I thought.

Then G-Mac, just his grittiness and the way he goes about his process, he just gets the best out of himself every day. I thought that was super admirable.

So kind of took -- I played with those guys a lot, maybe 2015 to 2017, and kind of took bits and pieces that I liked, didn't like, just kind of blended in my own thing.

Q. You still do that with other guys currently, or is that just something that you did when you were coming out?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I think it was I did when I was coming out. I think now I have been out here long enough where I know what I'm doing. I like the process that I have, and I just stick to that.

Q. Last year after the situation on 15 with the caddies, I heard some people say, well, that's a stupid rule anyhow, why you can't exchange information. I'm just wondering, generally, how do you feel about that rule, whether there should be -- should it be allowed or not allowed, the exchange of information?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, everybody's exchanging information all day long. Looking in guys' bags, caddies are signaling all day long. But who knew, I think I was just foreshadowing what was going to happen.

Q. You spoke last week about how Doral was a good prep course for here. How do you process last weekend, and is it easier to process because you are a dad?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I mean Doral last week I thought was, it was as soft as I've ever seen it. So I was kind of expecting it to be -- I hadn't played it by the time I had already done my presser -- but I think this place is as -- yesterday when I played it was as firm as I've seen it in maybe four, five years. The green speeds kind of felt like they were maybe all weekend already, and usually that's not the case. Usually they just progressively get faster and faster as the week goes on. And then, from Wednesday to Thursday, it almost feels like they get a foot faster. They have got an extra hop in 'em with the wedges, but they were -- it felt like they were Friday, Saturday afternoon already on Monday, which probably has to do with the good weather they have had up here lately. I don't know, I've heard it's supposed to rain on Thursday, so not sure what's going to happen, maybe that's just, you know, with the weather coming in.

Q. Can I request you to please reflect and reveal a little bit about what goes on in your mind, because you seem to kind of switch on a good gear whenever you go to a major championship, that's one. The second is, how much are you missing competing against some of your best peers in pro golf, because you're out of now, like, places in Bay Hill and stuff like that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Repeat the first part.

Q. The first one is you seem to be able to switch on a different gear when you get to major tournaments. What kind of mental work goes into making that happen?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don't know. If you can't get up for the biggest events, I don't know, I think there's something wrong with you. It's what I always dreamed of when I was a kid. When I was practicing at my dad's course when I was younger it was always to win a major championship. Even today, that's what I first see, that's what I think you're judged by, your legacy, what you're defined by. I've always said it, I think you can tell exactly how many Jack, Tiger, Arnold, Tom, you can tell, all these guys, how many majors they won. It's tough to tell how many events they won, but I know that there's one sure-fire way to figure out who is who is by major championships.

Q. The second question, are you missing playing competing against some of the best golfers because you are not at events like Bay Hill and stuff?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I, mean I think that's subjective. Look, the best players in the world never got together week in, week out. I think that's kind of forgotten. We always, if you look at the Tour schedule, it was the majors, WGCs, I never played API that much, like later in my career, or at Memorial, but those were pretty much the 10 events where everyone was, for sure, going to be there. And then it was just kind of sprinkled in everywhere else. I think that's kind of how it is. You don't have the 40 best players in the world competing every single week. I think that's one thing that's forgotten.

Q. It sounds like the course is already pretty dialed this week, but under softer or optimal scoring conditions do you think 59 is obtainable on this golf course?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Have you played here?

Q. Not yet.

BROOKS KOEPKA: I can tell by the question.

Q. What number is attainable in your mind? 63's the low.

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, now, anything's attainable. But, yeah, if you want to go play the members tees and maybe play like 15 holes, yeah, I could do that.

Q. You achieve a different level of focus during major weeks or whatever it is, you get hyped up for them like you don't in other weeks. Have any of your peers reached out to you about your major approach for advice on how they should approach their major weeks?

BROOKS KOEPKA: No. Nobody ever really talks to me about it. Maybe they do and I'm just not paying attention, because I'm out here doing, kind of in my own world when I'm out here playing, but as far as I know not many guys have. I don't really think anybody's asked, but...

Q. Would you share information if they did about how you do it?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think, yeah, to certain people I would.

THE MODERATOR: Great. Brooks, thank you very much for your time and we wish you all the best for the week ahead.


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