Koepka’s Blunt Refusal Of In-Round Interviews

Brooks Koepka cut his teeth traveling the globe on the European and Challenge Tours, and even as the World No. 1 continues to support the Tour in the early season, he wasn’t shy in blasting one of the circuit’s more innovative television initiatives. 

Always trying to provide a better product for its fans, the European Tour has made in-round interviews part of their broadcast model for years.

The premise is simple: players who agree to talk to an on-course reporter will answer a few questions — typically on their way off the tee box — to give fans more insight into how they’re playing, how the course is playing and anything else they seem up for sharing with the Tour’s global audience. 

It’s an opportunity for players to show some personality, expertise, and perhaps, they can get their sponsors some more prominent camera time.

Brooks Koepka doesn’t have time for that, however.

Last week at the Saudi International, the notion of the on-course interview took a pretty significant blow thanks to a slow-play warning eventual winner Graeme McDowell was given following taking the time to do a quick Q&A with Sky Sports. 

“I just did an interview with (Sky Sports’) Tim Barter, so I was 50 yards behind the guys,” McDowell explained on Friday after receiving his first bad time. “I was first to go and I had 215 yards into the wind.”

Under the European Tour’s new slow-play policy, if a player gets a bad time, he receives a warning, but a second bad time would result in a one-shot penalty. 

“Tim is great at his job, and I don’t want a situation where guys won’t give him an interview,” McDowell said. “But I called him over and said, ‘You might want to have a word with (the Tour), because if I’m going to do that for you, which I want to because we are in the entertainment business and I think it’s a good thing for viewers to get an insight into what is happening out on the course, only for the referee to give me a bad time, then everyone is going to say no.'”

The bad time didn’t come back to bite McDowell, who went on to win by two strokes over Dustin Johnson, but it did start a conversation surrounding the practice of in-round interviews, and Koepka was one of those asked about his opinions on them.

“I won’t do it,” Koepka told The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster. “I’m not interested in talking about what just happened or the difficulty of the holes ahead. I’m just focused on one shot at a time, where my ball’s at. I understand why it might be beneficial for the fans, but I don’t get it.

“I don’t know any other sport that does interviews in the middle of play. I know in football you’re not doing it unless it’s in the Pro Bowl. Basketball you’re not doing it unless it’s halftime. This is the only sport where you’re talking to people while they are playing.”

Koepka will make his next two starts on the PGA Tour, which has floated the idea of in-round interviews in the early going this season in Hawaii and Phoenix, but they can be sure that they won’t be getting any time with Koepka at the Genesis Invitational or Honda Classic until his round is complete.