FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

NOTABLE QUOTES: MICHELLE WIE WEST, JUSTIN LEONARD AND MARK ROLFING PREVIEW 2020 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

GOLF Channel Notable Quotes
Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship
TPC Harding Park
San Francisco, Calif.
Tuesday, Aug. 4

*Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship press conferences show continues today through 7 p.m. ET, followed by live primetime news coverage from 7-9 pm ET.

On World No. 1 Justin Thomas
Mark Rolfing – “He is an extremely versatile player. He is actually a much better player today than I believe he was in 2017. That is how good he is. He has improved in every part of his game.”
Michelle Wie West– “I saw him on the range yesterday, and with him being No. 1, it feels different this time. He felt really comfortable, and it just felt like another day to him. He felt so at ease. I was impressed, after him getting to No. 1 and winning on Sunday, he was out on the golf course on Monday. He was feeling so comfortable, not only practicing on Monday but playing nine holes. If it was a normal tournament, I wouldn’t imagine him being out here practicing on Monday.”
Wie West – “I was so excited when he became World No. 1 again. I think he is better equipped now to keep being No. 1 because of the minor changes he has made in his swing. He has really gone to controlling his irons and his wedge play. I think he is a phenomenal wedge player, and that is because of those minor changes. You see the explosion on his driver, controlling his wedges and he is really consistent with his putter. With all of that combined, he is way better equipped to stay at World No. 1.”
Justin Leonard – “The experience he has over the first time he reached No. 1, I think that’s going to make the biggest difference. There’s no weakness in his game. He didn’t have his best stuff [Sunday in Memphis], but he managed his mistakes, got lucky a couple times. But he took advantage of those good breaks.”
Rolfing – “He’s gotten better literally in every single aspect of his game. He’s figured out a way to not have his mistakes be fatal. What I like about his ascent to No. 1 is it wasn’t rapid. It wasn’t spectacular. It was steady. He just keeps getting better and better.”

On Jon Rahm
Michelle Wie West – “He has really matured on and off the golf course. Recently getting married and having someone in your life who can be your checks and balances really helps, even on the golf course. I’m impressed with how he is carrying himself, even with being No. 1 for only one week.

On Tiger Woods
Justin Leonard – “I think Tiger would love to have more competitive reps. It’s about managing physically what he can and cannot do. I think his plan all along was not to play very much. He was keying in on starting this week, competing through the playoffs and into the U.S. Open in September.
Michelle Wie West – “Whenever I play in Northern California and San Francisco, it feels like a second hometown. I think that is maybe why he didn’t play last weekend and he came here early. It is like coming home. Hopefully he went back to Stanford and made a little visit. Coming back to an area you are familiar with and spending a couple of extra days can be really helpful.”
Wie West – “With the length of this rough and with the condition of his back, fairway hits are going to be his number one priority this week. His iron play is prestige and if he gets his putter going and a good game plan, you might see vintage Tiger Woods this week.”
Mark Rolfing – “There are not many players who have played as little as Tiger Woods has, yet he comes in as one of the favorites this week. I think you are going to see a real conservative game plan out of him. A lot of 3-woods. He will manage his way off the tee and do whatever he can to get the ball into play. The strength of his game is his approach shots. He will hit good iron shots into these greens and if his putting is on, he can have a shot at winning this championship.”
Rolfing – “His putter will be the big difference this week. He is simply not as good a putter as he was 20 years ago. I think part of that is because of his back.”

On Brooks Koepka
Justin Leonard – “He hasn’t been able to take the left side of the golf course out of play these last couple months. But it looked so much sharper last week and he was swinging with more confidence. He looked more like the Brooks Koepka that we’ve come to watch.”
Rolfing – “It’s amazing to me how streaky a putter Brooks Koepka is. His putting is just a mystery. He goes from being really good to really bad. That’s going to be the key for him this week.”
Mark Rolfing – “The transformation of Koepka in his public image has been really good for his game. He has become a real lightning rod and because of that, it puts him in a situation where more times than not now he is playing with a chip on his shoulder, and I think that helps him and motivates him.”
Michelle Wie West – “Even though he didn’t close last week, he is peaking very nicely for his type of tournament. He has won this twice already and I bet he is coming in thinking, ‘This is my niche, this is my type of tournament. I am really good at the majors.’ He always gets a boost of confidence coming into the PGA Championship.”

On Bryson DeChambeau
Mark Rolfing – “He’s creating a rooting interest, and I think that is good for the game. But I don’t like the direction that he’s trending. He’s become quite confrontational. It just takes more energy to be that way. I don’t think it’s a particularly good trend, and I’d like to see him reverse it and go back in the other direction.”
Justin Leonard – “Maybe some maturity still is yet to happen. But he’s pushing boundaries. He’s going in his own direction, which is a wonderful thing for the game. And he’s opening people’s eyes to possibilities.”

On Rory McIlroy
Mark Rolfing – “I think the no spectators has affected a player like McIlroy more than anybody else. He feeds off of emotion, he loves the environment, intensity and the buzz of having fans around. I believe he needs that energy to feed off of. The question is, how is he going to replace that, because he will not have that this week.”
Michelle Wie West – “Someone like Rory McIlroy wasn’t expecting these conditions to affect them like this. You never know how something like this until you go through it. I have noticed a trend after the quarantine where players aren’t playing as well because there are no fans.”
Wie West – “Someone like Rory who loves playing in front of crowds, I don’t think it really fully hit him that this was going to affect him this way. But, now with a few tournaments under his belt, he can adjust and look to hype himself up to adjust to no crowds.”

On the 2020 PGA Championship
Mark Rolfing – “When I look at what we all have gone through with the pandemic, it has wreaked havoc on the entire world and the sports world. Golf has done a phenomenal job in the comeback. Jay Monahan has his team at the PGA TOUR have been exemplary in what they have done with the tournaments coming back. It is only appropriate for our game to be able to stage as what literally might be the most important sporting event since the comeback here at the PGA Championship.

On the atmosphere of no spectators at the PGA Championship
Mark Rolfing – “I feel like no spectators at a major is probably going to have more of an impact than a PGA TOUR event. It’s going to impact the star players more than it will the average player. Some of these stars really feed off energy from spectators. Because of that, I’m feeling like there are more players probably who have a chance to win this week than would otherwise be the case.”

On TPC Harding Park
Justin Leonard – “It suits a player who is going to put the ball in the fairway. The rough is thick in spots, it’s a little spotty. It’s difficult to control. The big factor here are the greens. The greens could get very firm if we continue to get this breeze as we have so far this week.”
Mark Rolfing – “I think a disciplined player is who will really succeed here. You will see some players try to advance the ball pretty far down these fairways and take some chances. The greens are not overly huge and they’ve got quite a bit of slope to them. You have to put the ball in the correct positions on these greens if you want to be aggressive.”

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