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Brooks Koepka will defend his PGA Championship title at Valhalla this week knowing a victory would bring him within one of the record haul of five Wanamaker trophies, which is currently shared between Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.

It would also take him to six majors in total. Only 11 players have won more in history. But, for Koepka, that is simply not enough. caught up with the Rolex Testimonee to learn more about his major ambitions…

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka won his third Wanamaker Trophy and sixth major overall at the 2023 PGA Championship. (Credit: Getty Images)

With your 2023 PGA Championship victory you joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to the tournament three times in the stroke play era. How does it feel to be mentioned alongside such iconic figures in the sport?

It’s surreal.

I don’t think even as a kid I dreamed that I would make it this far. The fact that I have been as successful as I have is kind of crazy.

It is still mind-boggling to me that I am mentioned with those names. I still cannot wrap my head around that but anytime you are mentioned alongside those two icons, you are definitely doing something right!

And, of course, that win came after huge disappointment at the Masters a few weeks before…

I think that I have always learnt from defeat well and that is something that has helped my success.

After losing, I came back to my house and there were a lot of people there. As you can imagine, after losing, you don’t always want to see everybody, but I sat out back with my best friend for six or seven hours and I will never forget the moment when he said: “Don’t ever be afraid to win.”

I think that was something that stuck with me and definitely at the PGA Championship a month later. It was also something that stuck with me not just in golf but in life too as the two are so closely related.

You also became the 20th player in the sport’s history to win five majors. Can you describe your emotions in that moment?

Very grateful. I think the fifth major title meant the most to me given everything I had been through with injury and coming back from that. I also had my whole team there, which was pretty special.

We are always chasing Jack and Tiger but in today’s age, that is very tough to do and probably won’t be done again. There are only a few people who have won more than one major championship so to win five feels incredible.

I still feel like I am living in a dream so hopefully, I don’t wake up!

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Is there any particular moment or shot that stands out from your PGA Championship victories?

The one memory I always go back to was at Bellerive in 2018. Coming down the stretch were Adam Scott and Tiger.

These were my two idols growing up and they were always the guys that I wanted to be like – I mean who does not want to swing it like Adam Scott? He is just a classy guy and I think anyone who has ever met him will attest to that. And with Tiger, not much else needs to be said!

To battle it out with those guys was special. I hit a four-iron on the par-three 16th that went to about eight feet and I think that is probably the best shot I have hit under pressure. It is a memory that I often go back to and try to recreate!

How do you manage the pressure and expectations while defending your title at a major?

I wish I knew and that I could do it more often! I just enjoy the big stage, when the spotlight is on and when things are more difficult.

The majors really test who is the best – who has “it”, and who doesn’t. As they say in other sports, I am someone who wants the ball with a few seconds to go and that is something that I have had in me since I was a little kid.

When I look back at success, I think success is defined by the majors. They are the one thing that set you apart in this game and to win as many of these tournaments as possible has always been my goal.

How do you adjust your mindset and approach for a major championship?

One thing that has stood out to me is that I own who I am. I am unapologetically myself. I am super competitive, and I hate losing.

I often think about the Michael Jordan scenario where he had this slight against everybody and replicate that in my own head. I can pretty much tell you about anytime that I have lost to anybody.

In golf we all know that the sport is a game of failure where you don’t get the opportunity to win that often so when you do, you need to capitalise. I draw up the similar scenario in my head of every time that person I’m competing against has beaten me, so I don’t add to the list!

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In 2018 you became the first golfer to win consecutive titles in two majors simultaneously. Can you describe how this feels to go down in the history books forever?

I like the way you phrased that – I could hear that all day! It just feels incredible and like a dream that I hopefully don’t wake up from.

As a kid, I dreamed of being able to play golf and do it successfully. I still feel like a kid in that sense and hopefully, it stays that way for a long time.

How does your preparation differ for a major compared to regular tour events?

I would not say that I do anything differently but there is a slight difference in mental approach when it comes to majors. I know that they are tougher events. I enjoy events that are tough from the start. Every shot is amplified more at the majors.

When you arrive on the Monday, you immediately know you are at a major championship. It is in the air and you really feel it. It just adds a little bit of extra pressure and I love that.

Have your long-term goals changed?

I want to get to double digits in the majors. I think ten titles is very attainable.

That goal is something I have had to change, which I guess is the key to success. You always have to keep moving the goalposts to stay motivated and hungry for more. You have to set goals that you can attain but also some goals that are far away, so you have something that you are working towards every day.

Also to be at World No 1 for 47 weeks was special. I cannot even remember how many weeks Tiger Woods has been ranked World No 1 – it’s an insane amount – but just to be the best at your profession is a very weird feeling.

When I was chasing it, I did not know what to think but when I finally got there, it was like “I’ve made it” and that was the coolest feeling in the world. It was a very important milestone for me in my career and I was very happy to get there.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka has been a Rolex Testimonee for eight years. (Credit: Getty Images)

Brooks Koepka was speaking to as a Rolex Testimonee after joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in being associated with the brand in 2016.

Can you describe what it is like to be part of the Rolex family?

One word that I would use would be “iconic”. I have been with Rolex for eight years and I think that when you look at all the greats that have ever played this game, they all have one thing in common and that is that they always have a Rolex on their wrist.

Hopefully, I am thought of in the same way that Jack, Tiger, Arnold Palmer and all the greats that came before me are. I think it is very special to be a part of the Rolex family. We all have that bond, and it is a very unique experience. We all get together at the US Open and it is amazing to see all the names in the room and on the wall. A “family” is a very good way to put it.

As Rolex is deeply associated with excellence and precision, how do you channel these qualities in your game?

Precision is one quality that I would love to strive for a little bit more because as we all know, golf is a very difficult game! Rolex does a phenomenal job, and we all know the quality and how good their watches are.

Can you share a particular moment or experience that highlighted the significance of your partnership with Rolex in your career?

One of the things that I think is one of my coolest moments in golf was winning back-to-back the PGA Championship and the US Open in 2018 and after doing so, I bought my entire team a Rolex.

When I look back at that, it is one of the most special watches that I have. It has “Back-to-Back Champs” engraved on the back. I know it means a lot to me and I always think it is really cool when I see the rest of my team wearing their watch on their wrists.

Rolex has been phenomenal since the start of my career, so it was cool to see two great things combine in this way.

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