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April 8, 2016

Jordan Spieth

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, we welcome our defending champion back to the media center here. Jordan Spieth maintains his first‑round lead after carding a 2‑over par 74. He had birdies on holes No.1, 3, 8 and 15. He has now led six consecutive rounds here at Augusta National.
Jordan, can you explain what it was like out there today.
JORDAN SPIETH: It was tough. It was very tough. I started, it was a dream start obviously, after trying to back up yesterday's wind and today's conditions, 2‑under through 3, with being a little upset about that, considering I didn't birdie 2, was a dream start.
I knew that even par was still a good score. We kept reminding ourselves that even par is a good score, even par is a good score. Let's play these holes par in from here on out. Dropped a few, but all in all still in the lead. A good save at the last to kind of have a putt to see go in.
But boy, that golf course changed very much throughout the day today. That back nine, once we got to 11, 12, 13 and on, the greens went from being‑‑ I had 4‑iron into No. 1 and landed it on the top tier and stuck it. And then 9‑irons were pounding over greens by the end of day, given into the wind versus downwind but it's still significantly different at the end of the day.
We were trying to adjust with ever‑gusting and changing winds. It just was a really difficult day to score, and when we look back, if we approach it that way, tomorrow could be just as challenging if not more, that's going to be the biggest advantage for us is to go out tomorrow, pretend it's a new golf tournament and try and beat the field from here on in.

Q. I know it's Saturday and it's not Sunday, but you're going to play with Rory in that final group tomorrow, first time I believe you've played together in a major. Talk about that dynamic and now this being so close, as opposed to you having a big lead and having Rory right there with you.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, we actually played the first two rounds together here two years ago, so I played with Rory at Augusta.
Yeah, it will be a fun round tomorrow. We enjoy playing with each other. We've both played well. We've both played poorly. Just both seem to be on our games right now and obviously really focused on this week with a lot of fantastic players behind us.
I mean, there's the potential tomorrow for someone to shoot a few under and move up into the lead from outside the Top‑25. I mean, there's a potential for that with what I saw on the last six holes today, the way the course was playing. So I don't think either one of us is focused on each other. I think we're focused on the golf course.
Sure, it's exciting to play with Rory. I enjoy it. He's a great player and a lot of fun to be around. So I think we'll just have it at that and not think much more of it.

Q. How do you describe the emotional roller coaster of this entire round, and how that might prep you for tomorrow with similar conditions in the afternoon expected?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I can use the back nine today as a learning experience. It was very tough to stay cool. I mean, it's a lot easier said than done. You could say, looked like you got emotional out there. I mean, you guys try it. That was a hard golf course (laughter).
I tell you what's really hard is the 2‑footers that you have to hit after you just barely miss your putt before, because they started getting very, very challenging. You know everyone has been walking in those locations and the greens are so fast, and with the gusting winds both directions. I mean, a gust one direction when you think it's going to be the other can throw a 2‑footer at this speed almost out of the hole. So trying to really stay down and grind on those putts was challenging.
I think I can use today's learning experience to accept that you're going to get some tough gusts. We got some really tough breaks today. The second shot into No. 5 is supposed to be downwind right‑to‑left significantly, and I hit a shot that started floating up in the air, went short of the green with a club that should have carried to the bunker if it was downwind right‑to‑left, because I tried to do everything I could to get the ball past the hole there. I knew where to go.
The second shot into 10 was the same thing, supposed to be downwind right‑to‑left and the ball shoots up in the air and goes short of the green, when I thought I had too much club in my hand again. So it's that kind of stuff and that cost me‑‑ ended up costing me a few shots.
Those are going to happen. It's getting that next first putt past the hole, making bogey instead of double, the chip on 9, those are the kind of learning experiences I'll have where you just can't make those mistakes in a major championship and still expect to win.
I've gotten away with it to this point. Won't get away with it anymore.

Q. 18 seemed today a bit reminiscent of 18 last year on Saturday. Can you talk us through that and the importance of that? And secondly, is there a comfort level knowing that you'll play with Rory, golf course difficulty aside, that you'll play with him on Saturday?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I don't think it's a comfort level. I'd rather be playing with someone less threatening to be honest (laughter). He's certainly proven himself in majors. But I think it's going to be fun, a really fun challenge.
What was the first part of your question?

Q. The up‑and‑down on 18 reminiscent of Saturday kind of.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, kind of. It was really nice to see the putt‑‑ when I hit the putt with about three feet to go, I thought I had missed it left and I thought it was maybe two feet past the hole, too. It was carrying pace even though I barely touched the ball and it caught the left lip. It was a nice kind of finishing good break at the end and certainly a made putt like that, you can carry some momentum, and it just stopped the bleeding at the end the round.
But I don't necessarily see the same significance. It's one shot. But again, that one shot can very much help me going into tomorrow. It makes me smile walking off the green versus wondering how you just went bogey, bogey, bogey. There's definitely a difference‑maker there.

Q. Just to clarify, were you guys put on the clock on 11?
JORDAN SPIETH: We were put on the clock on 11. We assumed we were off on 13, but no one told us. And we got put back on on 17.

Q. Did you think given the conditions you spoke about, that was slightly unfair?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not‑‑ I wouldn't say it was unfair. I would say that, have fun getting put on the clock at 11 of Augusta, and then play 11 and 12 rushing with gusting winds. It's not fun. It's not fun at all.
No, we were way behind, so the only thing that I tried to ask to the rules officials that we could have a warning a couple holes in advance when it looks like you're falling somewhat behind. Because I don't know when we started not getting warnings, but we haven't been warned in a while. It's just, Hey, you guys are being timed.
I'm more than happy to take a bad time, and I had a 70‑footer on No. 11 across the green that I felt like I really needed to rush. Michael said, If you get a bad time, you get a bad time. But then after that, you're still on the clock and you've got gusting winds. You step off of one more shot and the rule says you get a stroke penalty. So it makes a difference. It was very tough at the time, yeah. No one got a bad time, I don't think.

Q. What's your personal relationship to Rory like? How would you describe him, as a rival, as a colleague, as a friend? And if the latter, do you have an anecdote to kind of describe your friendship?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think, I'm not very close with Rory. Yeah, we're very friendly. He's a colleague. Yeah, he's a friend, but it's not like we've gone on trips together or anything like that. You know, he's in, I would say, a bit of a different position in life. He's, what, four or five years older than me. I didn't grow up playing against or with him to where I would have a lot of those experiences.
I certainly have idolized his game coming up, and have really enjoyed battling out different tournaments. Not necessarily with him; we haven't really been towards the lead in any events yet until this one. Just playing together in kind of different, you know, switching No. 1s last year, that kind of stuff. So yeah, I have the utmost respect for his game. I think he's a great guy, too.

Q. End of another round, look, you're on top again. Is this taking any toll or are you having to do anything different and special to deal with this fact that once again, you're on top?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I know I've got a little break after this. I have two more days to give it everything I have, and that's what we'll do, just to try and keep myself right on top.

Q. You mentioned the balls bounding over the green. It looked like for you and for many of the players, once you were above the hole, you were almost putting defensively downhill.

Q. Given firm conditions, and yet the need to keep the ball below the hole tomorrow and Sunday, what's the formula for doing that on this course?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's not going to be possible on some holes, but when you can control it, make sure that you stay focused on that and don't try and get too aggressive with it. Given where pin locations will be, there's going to be certain holes, holes like 7, just to‑‑ it's hard for me to name a lot of them, but that's a good example of one where you're just not going to be able to be below the hole and on the green. It would take a significant miss and a good break for that to happen.
Yeah, you're just going to have to be tentative putting down and accept that it's a par hole and par is that good of a score. You're going to be coming off greens, I imagine, tomorrow, if you make par, pretty pleased. This has now gone to very much a U.S. Open‑style of play, on challenging greens (laughter).

Q. Along those lines, we've heard crusty from a bunch of guys. We hear at U.S. Opens, oh, they are close to losing the greens. How close are they, or have they reached the edge here, given the fact that you're going to see more wind tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, at Augusta National, they have put so much research now and so much‑‑ with the SubAir and so much research with the SubAir and winds and moisture levels, that I don't think there's a chance they will get out of control. No, I think unless‑‑ I think that the tournament committee understands the conditions for tomorrow. They are able to kind of have it down to a science.
I think courses where you don't have that kind of system and you don't go there every single year so you can develop that, there's more of a chance for that to happen. I don't think there's a chance it will happen here. I think it will still be fair, but it will be very tough.

Q. Do they need water on them tonight?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, they need water on them tonight and I'm sure there will be water on them tonight.

Q. What impressed you about Bryson today?
JORDAN SPIETH: A lot. It was really a shame the way that went on 18, because it was just one swing of being possibly in the final group.
What impressed me, nothing out of the ordinary to be honest. I've seen that capability out of him. I loved just how he showed kind of the passion from No. 1 on; he chipped the one in on No. 1; the birdie on 11. He knows how special that kind of birdie is and he showed that passion and stuck it in there about this far on 12 (indicating three feet).
He's not scared of the moment. Doesn't matter what the moment is. It was just one bad swing away on 18 from being the one that's T‑2 or even tied for first.
Look for him on the weekend. Like I said in here yesterday, look for him on the weekend to be a contender.

Q. After your bogeys on 9 and 10, did you tell yourself anything or did you and Michael have any specific conversations?
JORDAN SPIETH: Let's go ahead and swing freely on 11 and just rip that drive and just get this ball on the green in two, get your 4. Then we've got some scoring holes after that.
Yeah, it wasn't ideal on 9 and 10. I felt like I didn't hit a poor shot, poor approach shots on either holes. The one on 9, I was very surprised it ended up as short as it did. Obviously could have hit the chip up there close, but the one on 10 was just a tough wind gust.
Paul had to step off his shot a couple times because he was like, why in the world is that coming into the wind. It just happened to him first.

Q. Tough putt on 9, too, after your chip.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, that was a good 2‑putt.
But on 11, by the time we got there, it was okay. How do we play kind of 1‑under here on in and shoot even par for the day. We got to that point through 15. I just didn't quite finish it off.

Q. It's so much different from last year, being in the position you were in, the conditions of the golf course and everything that goes into it. Does it feel like almost a different tournament a little bit?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it does. I was just thinking about that as we were kind of in scoring. I was sitting down thinking, you know, this is nowhere near kind of the feeling of last year. Last year was a four‑shot lead, but there were a lot of birdies to be had.
I kind of like this better, I do. I like this better. I don't like the fact that if I were to go out and play a decent round but shoot even par, because stuff doesn't go in, guys could take the lead. Now if I strike the ball the way I want to strike it and I kind of map my way around the course the way that we do so well here, you don't need to force anything. Like I felt like you still needed to make birdies on the weekend, and ultimately, I only needed to shoot 1‑under. But at the time I thought with a guy at 10 and a couple guys at 9, 8, whatever, that it was going to be further under par and I needed to shoot a better score on the weekend.
Now, I don't know how the course is going to play come Sunday, given it looks like it's going to be really nice out. But something like a couple under over the weekend may be good enough, and that I felt like I can handle even better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you and good luck this weekend.

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