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March 2, 2016
CHRIS REIMER: We welcome Jordan Spieth here to the interview room here at the Cadillac Championship. If you could, just some opening comments about being here back at Trump National Doral.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's really nice being back here in Miami, warm weather, pristine-conditioned golf course and the best players in the world. Excited about the pairing this week. It will be fun. We'll have a good time.
Trying to gain some momentum back after Los Angeles, that was a bummer. Been working pretty hard on my game over the last week and a half to try to get it ready for a challenging golf course. Yeah, but only the scores will end up telling.
But I feel a little bit better. I feel better about my game. I feel better about the way I'm going to attack these next couple weeks considering they are very challenging golf courses. I felt I was maybe playing a little too aggressive in L.A., and I'll come in with a little different attitude, really respect the golf courses a bit more here.
Q. I read somewhere that you spent a couple days at Augusta, I think the weekend there. Wonder firstly, if there was anything different about the golf course. And secondly, going back to practice, do you feel differently as a defending champion, did it feel different to you at all?
JORDAN SPIETH: This is a common trip we normally make before coming down here. It's the third year in a row now. I also go in December. Like to get there a couple times, get on the grounds, and in December, it was very, very special. It was again this time being back.
It's a different feeling on the grounds having won that tournament. Like I've said a million times now, it was a dream come true for me. It was my favorite tournament in the world and so to come close, miss out and then to be able to come back the next year and finish strong, I mean, that was just fantastic and something I'll never forget.
So when I'm there, all that comes back to me. It's really special. Guys are calling you Champ, you have a different locker room. The members are coming up and introducing and saying, "We're really happy that you won, come back and do it again." It's a special place for me, and I'm really happy to be going back there as long as I'm capable of playing golf.
But no, there's nothing different about the golf course. It looks very similar. It's even in better shape this far before the event than it has been the last couple years. The greens were very, very quick and very healthy, so I've got a feeling that they are not going to want 18-under to win again, so I've got a feeling it might be playing a little more challenging this year.
Q. Some of the guys have said this is one course where being too aggressive can really get you in a lot of trouble. So does that help you with trying to kind of reign in your aggressiveness?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, it's very good practice for respecting a golf course. Michael told me, hey, the difference I saw in the recent few events versus your major championships last year, where I felt like I played my best golf of the year, was the respect you had for the golf course and not taking too many chances, let them just come to you, and then when you start to really get into a rhythm, then you can take a couple chances.
Here, if you try and take a couple chances that you shouldn't, it's not just bogey that comes into play. You make, 6, 7s, and I think I've even made an 8 here on a par 4 before.
So yeah, because of the trouble, short, long, left and right on almost every hole, you really have to pick your spots and make sure that you miss it -- you're not going to be able to hit ball the greens, because when you miss the fairway, you catch jumpers in this rough. You have to make sure that you're leaving yourself below the hole with simple pitches. Even if it's not firing at the hole.
And that's what I'm talking about; that I need to start doing more of as we play more tougher golf courses and prepare for the majors.
Q. We often hear top players about wanting to peak four times a year at the major championships. What do you make of at analysis or maybe criticism, when you're not in peak form, and it's not one of those four times a year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, obviously we would argue that you want to peak each and every four rounds, tournament rounds that you play. You obviously want to be -- feel like you're gearing up for the majors but a lot of times you're coming off of -- a lot of players are coming off of an off season. Or you get to events where you feel like you just haven't put the exact amount of work in that you had put before a major, because you can't do it every single week. It's not physically possible.
So what do I make of not playing great but it not being a major? Fortunate that it's not a major. Those are the most special tournaments to play all four rounds and to have a chance to win. But really, what I try and do is weeks like Riviera, try and just shrug it off as quickly as possible and convince ourselves it's going to be the only missed the cut this year; and don't let it happen again; and learn from exactly what made us miss the cut.
Because I even still had a chance after shooting that horrid round the first round, I even had a chance to make the cut. I made enough birdies that second day to do it without the bogey. So what could I have really done that first day to turn -- what did I shoot, seven- or eight-over, into four or five. And I really could have turned that into four or five without just letting the emotions get the best of me, which is one-in-a-hopefully-a-couple-year round.
But I still could have prevented that. And so when you look back on that, you don't have your best stuff, still try to find a way to play the weekend.
Q. You, Rory and Jason are bucking a recent trend of you're developed by one coach and when people go pro, they go to someone else. How often were you told that you needed to go to someone other than Cameron once you became a pro, and why did you stick with him?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, I don't think I was told -- I can't remember one time, he's so highly respected amongst his peers, that I don't think anybody said you should change anything.
So it's never really been the case for me. I've never really even thought about it. Even if you have a streak of a couple bad weeks, you feel like you're not swinging the club very well, I still have full trust that he's the guy for me.
He has been for a long time, and he's grown accustomed to knowing exactly what I need. I sent him a couple videos this morning, saying, hey -- I'm working on some things with him right now, really minor things, but trying to get a little bit more patient in the swing. You know, how does this look for the patience, what do you think.
And he responded right back, and then it's on me to get enough repetitions to do what he's telling me to do. I know if I do what he's telling me to do, it's going to produce the results because I've seen it now for a lot of years.
Q. Are surprised more players don't have long-time coaches?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's hard for me to say. Again, because I just don't come from ever even feeling the need to do it.
Do I feel a bit odd? I think you just have so many different people out here. Bubba Watson has never had any coach, and then other guys have gone through four or five. I think you need to find -- I was lucky. We found the right match of somebody who I trusted with the swing but also trusted personality-wise to be a mentor for me and a peer at the same time.
It's nice to get along with him, but also if I'm not doing something that I've been doing for awhile, he'll get on me: He'll say, you know what, you need to put in these reps. You know, trust me, you won't wear yourself out, just do it.
And so I just found the right match with Cameron there. I think the guys that switch are just searching for the right match.
Q. I know you don't need any extra motivation, but I think this is the second time that you've been paired with those two guys you'll head out with on Thursday and Friday. Does that bring an added level of excitement or anticipation, anything along those lines?
JORDAN SPIETH: I can't think of us being paired together before. Maybe we have been?
CHRIS REIMER: One time at PLAYERS. One time, yeah.
JORDAN SPIETH: Was it Jason, though, too?
CHRIS REIMER: Yeah.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sorry, Jason. (Laughter). That's all right. I was only there for two rounds anyways.
CHRIS REIMER: You both were actually.
JORDAN SPIETH: We both were. I'm glad Rory had a good time then. (Laughter).
Does it add to anything? Honestly, at a World Golf Championship, we prepare for these and we think of these as a step below a major championship. That's how we feel. Everyone's fighting for the same prize.
When we get out there, we're playing our own game. I don't think any of us are buying into any added motivation or excitement based on a pairing. I don't think we would at any point.
So not trying to downplay it, but for me personally, I would say, sure, it's going to be a lot of fun, because I enjoy playing with both of them. But I don't think anyone's buying into the big three, because I've spent a good amount of time on this stage saying that I don't think that's a necessary comparison when you look at the big three from the past.
But yeah, we'll have a good time.
Q. When you fail, whether that's missing the cut or having a chance to win and not getting it done, how often is it because of poor shots and how often is it because you did something dumb?
JORDAN SPIETH: In the past year and a half, couple years, it's been the majority of the time just poor execution. The decision-making has been very, very solid and even more solid in the heat of the weekend than it is on a Thursday, Friday. We've just gotten much better at our decision making, judging the adrenaline, finding the right spots and playing with extra patience.
I went through a stage right there in a few events after, really my last I think four events after Hawai'i, where I just kind of expected everything to be like Hawai'i. And that was -- yeah, I apologize then -- where I think that we didn't make the right decisions at certain points in time, more so than we saw last year.
But now that we've noticed that, we've been able to regroup I think. Michael and I have had a couple talks over the last week trying to regroup. We had a talk the Monday after this event last year, which really kind of kick-started the year was Tampa for us, and we had a big talk, talking about how I wanted him to feel like he's more involved and assertive in each one of the shots. Michael wrote the notes down, he stays on it all the time, and he's been so solid when we've been in contention.
Recently, I've been just taking too many chances when they are unnecessary, which is why I'm talking about giving respect to the golf courses. But it's been execution for the most part over the last year and a half. When we have failed, it's just mis-hit or a poor swing, which there's nothing you can do about that except practice more.
Q. On the occasions you've met with Jack, even if the topic's Augusta, is it hard to approach him, and what kind of questions do you ask someone like that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would say he's certainly a little intimidating, being the great of -- holding the major championship record for the game of golf. That's something that everyone in here would say is pretty special.
And so just like approaching any of the greats of the game, one can be intimidated a little bit. But every time I've spoken to him, he's been very open and willing to help me. Offered some advice. He sat down with me at Muirfield a couple times for lunch when I've just been sitting there, and struck up conversation.
Had a talk with him at Augusta National prior to 2014 Masters and he helped me a little bit on how to deal with the golf course.
So I think he's just rooting for the game of golf. It's not just me. He's doing it for everyone that I've seen him around, and it's really cool, because it's just as easy for him to kind of step away and say, you know what, I don't want any of my records to be broken, I'll kind of just let their own paths play out. But instead he wants to step up and help us all get better.
He's certainly been in our shoes, and we haven't quite been in the shoes that he's been in. It's very, very nice of him and I've enjoyed my time.
Q. Do you ever worry about asking a dumb question?
JORDAN SPIETH: Is this coming off a story where I've actually asked him a dumb question or something?
Q. I'm just curious, if you ever felt any pressure to ask the right thing.
JORDAN SPIETH: No, typically, I'm asking --
Q. It's not for you, Reimer.
CHRIS REIMER: I worry about you guys asking dumb questions. (Laughter).
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I wouldn't say I do. I don't get starstruck in a way where I would be nervous about what I'm saying. I would just be -- a lot of times he's talking with someone or he's always busy. So my intimidation in the past had come from just not wanting to bother in the wrong time.
Q. Rory said that golf is in a good spot right now, and he's cited the 20-something golfers including yourself that have been successful. With that, how do you handle -- and it's a twofold question, the pressure with the success; and what they are saying is the next generation that you help bring in as far as people to the golf course to watch events or watch on TV or to take up the game.
JORDAN SPIETH: By not thinking about it as being that big of a deal. Whether it is or not, why add more pressure than what I already put on myself.
Sure, we'd all like to have a very positive impact on the game ultimately, but the only way to do that is to stay focused on our own goals and accomplish what we can on the course and be respectful and good people off the course to the best of our abilities. Just be honest, open and who we are.
If we try and add anything else on that the younger generation is trying to take over the game, the only way that comes into mind is if I'm trailing one of those guys and I'm just trying to beat him that week.
I think golf is definitely in a good spot right now. It needs to continue to have the excitement that we had over the last few years, and it's in a good spot. I think not only because of young players being able to win and learn how to win quicker, and you're seeing that.
But you also have guys like Phil who now can consistently still compete for weeks in a row; so you have that generation. And then there's maybe a generation in between, where Adam won last week.
So you just have crazy, crazy solid competition right now from everybody, and that's why I think it's really strong.
Q. You talk about trying to peak four times a year. When do you start thinking about Augusta, and then really start getting your game ready for that? And how does that compare to the other big events later in the year in terms of time frame?
JORDAN SPIETH: I found that I really started thinking about it about this time, after I make that last trip prior to the Masters week, which is what we just did.
When we leave the West Coast and come over to Florida and then in Texas, that's what I think is, okay, it's time to get ready for the Masters. That's just me personally. The West Coast seems like its own kind of part of the schedule, and it did last year, too. We came into here after playing. You get the excitement from just being and playing a couple rounds at Augusta National.
And you come into really the final stretch of a few events that you kind of want to knock out everything you can in tournament play, and hopefully grab a win or two in the process, because that's the best way to prepare before heading over there, after Houston for me.
Yeah, it's right about this time.
Q. How does that compare with the other majors? It's a shorter time frame obviously but do you look ahead like you do at Augusta?
JORDAN SPIETH: For me, I guess the U.S. Open, because Byron Nelson week is a great week to be home and there's a lot going on and it's a big event for me, it's normally right after that. Whether it's Colonial or Muirfield that's next, that's kind of where I start feeling like getting ready for the next one.
The Open Championship, it's always been the John Deere for me right before, trying to win to fly over. And then the PGA, normally Akron is the starting point.
So the way it compares, I would say it's just a little further before.
Q. Earlier you said manage about what you're trying to do with your swing and have more patience in your swing. Can you describe for us what you mean by that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, for whatever reason, on the West Coast, my swing became extremely short. And it wasn't getting to parallel and therefore, my timing was just thrown off on a lot of shots that were played off uneven lies or with different wind conditions.
Stock shots I was able to figure it out on a driving range, but I've been trying to just really load more and get more patient into my backswing. And it's tough to trust a lot -- a lot of times, because it feels like you're going to hit it out to the right. But enough repetitions, and it starts to straighten out and you gain trust. But it's something that's weird that doesn't get off very often. And it could happen because of cooler weather; you have more layers on and you just don't get as full of a turn. Or it's just something that just comes up randomly and you just get over it.
I've just been working on that over the last week and a half or so.
Q. Do you ever see yourself -- would you ever fathom moving out of Texas, and what is being a Texan, what does that mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think I would. I wouldn't mind spending a few weeks of January when it's the worst it is in Texas, worst weather, somewhere a little warmer. But by that time we're typically in Hawai'i and on the West Coast. December is nice for rest. It actually works out pretty well.
To be a Texan, it's special. It's a very proud state, proud people. It has great golf history. Got great people to look up to in Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, the list goes on, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite. Yeah, I don't think I'll ever move out of the state. I just moved in, which I'm sure everyone has now seen (laughter) to a new place. I moved in in December and I'll be there for quite a while.
Q. Can you talk about the 18th hole here at Doral? It's an iconical -- that everybody knows --
JORDAN SPIETH: It's hard.
Q. Your thoughts on that hole and how you play and how you approach it?
JORDAN SPIETH: You do what you can to get that ball in the fairway and hope you get it up there to have a mid-iron into the green. If I take four 4s on that hole this week -- I asked Jason Dufner today, I said, would you rather play this hole downwind right-to-left, which is the easiest wind you can have on that hole. It's normally off the left. We played it downwind right-to-left today.
Would you rather play 18 here the easiest way it can play, or play 11 at Augusta into the wind every single time. And he said, "No doubt I'd rather play 11 at Augusta. I could just slap a shot right of the green and get up-and-down most every time." But out here, this hole is a tee shot, you go to bed regretting that you're hitting the next day. It's a tough one.
There's a couple of them out here that would qualify as the toughest tee shots of the year, and then you're not done after that tee shot. Like I said, four 4s, move on, thank everybody for clapping for that 4 and I hope they really appreciate how hard that was to make one. I made 3 today by the way.
Q. When you were in Augusta just recently, were you aware when you went to Augusta that they are thinking of changing or lengthening the 13th tee, and what your thoughts are if they did lengthen that tee?
JORDAN SPIETH: I saw via Twitter or something that someone had posted there was rumors about them changing it. I didn't ask any questions there. It's probably better not to ask questions there. (Laughter).
When you get to 13 tee, it's like, okay, I think it's 9 of Augusta Country Club right there, so there would obviously have to be some form of rerouting.
Either way, if it were lengthened, I would find it advantageous to me, because instead of busting driver into the pine straw like I typically do this, I'd actually find the fairway and make the longer hitters have to hit it further right.
It's still, you have to hit a great shot to be in the fairway and you have to hit two fantastic shots to be on the green in two there. From where the tee is now, I think it's a great hole. It's one of the best in golf. I didn't think so when Bubba's shot ended up landing in the fairway in 2014. I said there's no chance there. But last year, I enjoyed it a bit more.
I think it's cool. I didn't ask any questions there and I'm not sure what's going to happen with it.
Q. You spoke a few minutes ago about regaining momentum after L.A. I'm just curious, how much have you found that even when you're on the type of rolls that you've been on, the past type of rolls that everybody knows you're capable of putting together, how much does momentum really carry over for you from the last putt Sunday to the first swing on Thursday?
JORDAN SPIETH: Momentum, yeah, momentum is -- I thought I had gained some off of -- I didn't play the AT&T Pebble Beach very well at all the first three rounds. But I really found something in my putting that fourth round, and I thought I had something going into L.A., and that first round was very much a shocker to me.
I was playing pretty solid. I played that Monday Pro-Am and I probably shot a few under par and the course is playing as hard as it was in the tournament. It just kind of came out of nowhere, and that's what I said, I just kind of threw it away.
But momentum is a huge thing in golf. You see guys that start to build up, build up, and then all of a sudden, they almost win, and then they are in it again, and then maybe they win. You just keep on playing well. It's a huge thing, and it can be turned in this game because it's so mental, you can turn it positively very quickly.
That's what I'm looking to do. I'm looking to do that tomorrow. If I can play this tournament under par, I think that would be a good, solid goal. I think I can certainly improve on that. But that's something I haven't done in my two trips here. It's a challenging course. And that's what I'm considering, solid momentum going forward from here would be trying to beat this golf course instead of it getting the best of me.
Q. Rory was in earlier and said he was going to putt left hand below right for the first time in about eight years. Just wondering, have you always putted left below right, and if you did change, why did you change and what are the benefits of that particular method?
JORDAN SPIETH: I didn't learn to putt that way, no. I putted conventional, even when I first started going to my coach, I was putting conventional. I want to say, though, it was within the first year. He didn't tell me to switch at all, my instructor. I had gone a little back and forth when I was maybe 11 to 13 or 14 years old.
I've kind of messed around with both, and I felt left-hand-low was very solid for me on shorter length putts, but my speed control was off, which is normally what people have a tough time getting adjusted to with it, just because it's unnatural.
But for me, I do so many things with my left hand; I throw, shoot. I have a lot of feel with my left hand. I was a quick learner with judging speed, and I think it's advantageous for me to putt left-hand-low, given the kind of control I have with my left hand and holding that left wrist kind of more square and just putting a good stroke on it.
The reason, yeah, that would be the reason I switched. I just started having better control with my speed. And then I started to trust it more when the pressure was on. Main reason I switched, when I did conventional, it was very unnatural for me to square my shoulders. I just kind of kept it to where it would be open so I would have a tendency to kind of come over the top of the putt and hit it over my arm line, and putting left-hand-low squared everything up.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Jordan. Good luck.
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