U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka wants the media to be more creative

Koepka left Pinehurst without speaking with media, and his explanation is well worth reading.

PINEHURST, N.C. — Look, Brooks Koepka and the golf media aren’t the best of friends, that’s no secret. We could come up with plenty of reasons for why there’s frustration, distrust or outright disgust on both sides.

On Thursday, after shooting a reasonable even-par 70, Koepka declined media requests and left Pinehurst No. 2 without speaking to any reporters. Full credit to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, who reached out to Koepka to request an interview by text … and Koepka agreed. The full exchange is well worth reading, but here are a few highlights:

• “I opted not to do [news conferences] just because I didn’t feel like it,” Koepka wrote. “Same questions every week. The lack of creativity with questions is kinda boring. I know I’m not a media favorite either so it’s not like anyone will notice. LOL.”

• “I could think of way more creative questions than ‘Do you think the course is borderline? What happened on those bogeys? What went well?’ Then some LIV versus PGA Tour questions.”

• (On whether there will be a Saudi Arabia-PGA Tour deal) “I think it will but there is too much to figure out so it won’t happen for a while. Deal might be signed quick but it’s gonna take a while to iron out details. Just my opinion, I don’t know anything. You might know more than me.”

• (On the winning score) “I’d say 4-under wins.”

• (On whether the media hates him) “Rory (McIlroy) didn’t talk to media at LACC [in the 2023 U.S. Open] and everyone was talking how it’s because he wants to focus. The second I do it, I’m mad at media, which isn’t true. I just didn’t want to do it. But my narrative will be I’m mad at media.” (McIlroy didn’t talk the first day, but did talk on days 2-4.)

• (On whether fans want to hear from him) “Nobody really cares what I have to say. … Most golf fans don’t live or die on my statements. I’m not Tiger Woods or Scottie Scheffler. And Rory. Everyone else is kind of an afterthought. I’m just not oblivious. Because that’s who I would wanna hear from. I wouldn’t be one I’d want to hear from. I’m good at removing myself from the situation and understanding as a fan.”

PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA - JUNE 13: Brooks Koepka of the United States looks on from the 11th tee during the first round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort on June 13, 2024 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka looks on from the 11th tee during the first round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Koepka’s right; there are certain players (i.e. McIlroy) who are “media favorites” because, well, they make the media’s job easier — and also because they give meatier quotes for fans to chew over and contemplate, which is kind of the same thing. Koepka can be a compelling quote — his singleminded focus on majors is always fascinating this time of year, and Koepka can be a good sport when he wants to be — but he can just as easily descend into cliché, like so many other athletes.

Here’s a secret: Media members don’t much like news conferences either, and it’s in part because many of the players put up a front that’s every bit as uncreative as Koepka says the questions are. At this point, every professional athlete — and most college ones, too — is trained in the art of saying absolutely nothing that can be aggregated into social media fodder. It’s understandable, if maddening.

Tiger Woods, for one, is an expert in this — he’ll talk for 10 minutes, and then you go back and read the transcript and realize he said literally nothing of substance. It’s how the game is played on both sides. Full credit to Brooks for bringing up the media’s responsibility for making the questions more creative, but is he willing to hold up his end of the bargain and make the answers sparkle a little more, too?

So let’s just see where this goes. Let’s not ask the typical “Talk about your round” questions. Instead, let’s go in a more creative direction. Sure, we could ask the usual icebreaker questions (Is a hot dog a sandwich? Would you rather fight a man-sized duck or 50 duck-sized men?), but those would be fairly weird to bring up in a news conference setting. So, here are 10 creative, semi-golf-related questions for Brooks:

• Do you think prime Brooks could take prime Tiger?

• You’ve come very close in several majors and lost to Tiger, Phil and Rahm. Did they beat you, or did you beat yourself?

• You have to play a round drinking one beer a hole. How many holes do you make it, and what do you shoot?

• What responsibility do players have to promote the game of golf beyond just, you know, playing good golf?

• You’re going to rob a bank. Which three players are you taking in your crew?

• Do you want the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to reunite? Why or why not?

• Be honest. Which is fake: the original beef with Bryson DeChambeau, or the current peace?

• Which three players would you really want in Smash GC if you could pick from both tours?

• How many majors would you win if you could play in Jack and Arnie’s day using today’s equipment?

• Which is more likely, you writing a publishable U.S. Open article with quotes and stats on a tight deadline, or a media member breaking 90 at Pinehurst?

It’s not Koepka’s job to make the media’s job easier. But then again, it’s not the media’s job to make Koepka feel loved, either. Both sides can get along just fine without each other, but there’s definitely something lost along the way. (Now why does that line sound so familiar?)

Anyway. Koepka tees off at 1:25 p.m. Friday, which means he’ll finish up around 7 p.m. We’ll see from there whether he decides to stick around Pinehurst for some creative questions.