|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
September 20, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Let's get under way. We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room. You're defending champion, FedExCup champion from last season. You had a couple of wins this year, Dean & DeLuca, and Tournament of Champions. You're back here to defend your title at No. 7 in the FedExCup standings. Just give us some thoughts on the week coming up and what your expectation is and what you're looking forward to.
JORDAN SPIETH: Really excited to be back here. This is a goal of every member of the PGA TOUR every season and to have a chance to do what we were able to do last year. That's the goal, to try to do the same exact thing.
Unfortunately, I'm not in the top five, so I don't necessarily fully control my own destiny. But pending being a bit unlucky, if I win should still control my own destiny.
I know the scenarios. I just -- I can control what I can control. Feel really good about where the game's at. I love coming here. Love these Bermuda greens. Love playing on the Bermuda surface. I don't see it often, and it's what I grew up on. I feel really comfortable here.
The nines changing I think it's going to be a pretty cool dynamic, and I'm excited to get out there and check it out. I haven't been on the course yet. I'm going this afternoon.
Q. You mentioned the flipping of the nines. We obviously have a new 18th hole this year. Take me through your strategy on that hole, starting with the tee shot and approach and maybe some nuances of that green up there.
JORDAN SPIETH: Off the tee, it's pretty simple, just hit the fairway. On that right side, you get a little bit of room for it to possibly bounce down for an easier layup, but I've missed the fairway on both sides in the 12 rounds I've played here.
On the left side, you can really get in trouble. The right side, you can still carry the water and have a wedge number, but hit the fairway, from there, hopefully, you have a number where you can get it up around the green. Depending on where the pin is, you favor one side of the green or the other.
So that front right pin, if you miss it anywhere left, you're just pitching across the green. It's the easiest chance for birdie. The front pin, you don't want to miss left, if you're in the bunker or just short, you're fine. Back center pin, you kind of just put it on the putting surface, and anywhere around there, leave a decent look at birdie.
So it's not -- once you -- the big part of the 18th hole now is just hitting the fairway, and then from there, I like the idea of going for it, trying to put it on that left center of the green, but if you can't quite get it to the green or on the green, there's always a place to leave it that's an easier birdie chance than a full wedge.
And then the green, yeah, the green has the slopes. Last year it was actually a pivotal hole for me in that final round. I made a really cool left-to-right slider for birdie, where I think I got a stroke on Henrik when he had the advantage on the hole and continued that into 10 and 11, with 11 being a dagger as well. So it was a big momentum shift in the round. So I can look back at that as some good memories on what is now the 18th hole.
Q. Jordan, you talked about this last year treating this like a Major, peaking at the right time, understanding how the formula worked. I'm guessing that's your approach this year. Has it been more difficult because of the schedule? What have you done to stay fresh and kind of peak at the right time?
JORDAN SPIETH: When I didn't go down to Rio, I had a few weeks off. So I am rested. I feel 100 percent. Body feels good. My game has been really coming together nicely, and I mentioned in Indianapolis, it's really close. I had the potential there to shoot a couple 66, 65s that turn into 67 or 68. So I'm looking at, how do you make sure that that -- you get the most out of finishing the rounds.
I finished a couple of my rounds with two or three over on the last three or four holes. You just can't really do that if you want to have a chance to win the golf tournament. Each round, you've got to finish strong.
So that's what gas pedal at the end of the rounds is a big key for me this week, and obviously, that's the case in all major championships as well. The Masters, I've actually had a tough time doing that throughout the week, struggled coming in, finishing early in the week, but here with the nines changed -- 16, 17, 18 now are actually, in my mind, holes you're looking to birdie versus the old 16, 17, 18 -- 7, 8, 9 now -- those are just really holes you're trying to get in with three pars, which I was very pleased with last year on Sunday. That's all we were trying to do.
So it makes that a little easier to capitalize on that strategy, I think, this week. But I feel great about where everything's at, and I feel we are ready to peak these next couple of weeks.
Q. Jordan, I remember in January you mentioned the Ryder Cup as a goal for you this year. As you get closer to it, is it a case where you want it in the back of your mind this week or want it in the forefront of your mind this week? How do you balance where your focus is at?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think the best -- I just played two practice rounds. I played Sunday and Monday at Hazeltine. I played with Jimmy Walker on Sunday. We actually ended up playing nine holes with Davis and Strick as well. The back nine, they joined us. Yesterday I played with the three hopefuls that were there and three friends of mine, Justin, Daniel, and Bubba, and had a great time up there. But once we landed here, it's all business here.
The best chance I have for next week is to go out and play my best golf this week. We have plenty of time. We're going to get in there. It doesn't start until Friday. It's a long week there. I've got experience of what that entails. We're busy every night until 10:00 p.m. during the Ryder Cup with dinners or galas or ceremonies, and it wears on you.
So having gone and played those two rounds was a big advantage for my preparation next week, but now that I'm here, I'm only thinking about this.
Q. Jordan, can you recite off the top of your head what the scenario is for you to win the FedExCup?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, Dustin can't finish in a two-way tie, second or better, and Patrick can't finish solo second.
Q. So you know. Now, realistically --
JORDAN SPIETH: I told you guys I knew.
Q. I just didn't know if you had that recited to memory, of course.
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm worried about both scenarios. Both are potential partners of mine, so I do hope they both play well, just T3. T3 would be solid.
Q. What do you think your realistic chances are of walking away with $10 million?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think as good as last year. I mean, not quite, I guess, because there is that scenario where -- but not far behind. I feel that we have an advantage on this golf course over potentially anyone here except for Henrik. He's been here and won it, and he's been in form. I know he's been injured, so he's kind of dealing with that.
I think we have as good a chance or better chance than anybody else given we've done it, and I feel that comfortable on this golf course. I have no excuses this week. Go out and get the job done.
Q. Did you know Henrik wasn't here this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Oh, is he not? I didn't know that, no.
Q. But you know the scenario?
JORDAN SPIETH: So I feel like we have as good a chance --
Q. Going to improve your outlook?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. [Laughter.]
Q. Jordan, what was the team dynamic like at Hazeltine? And difference, what was the dynamic like between the three guys you played with yesterday, the hopefuls?
JORDAN SPIETH: Great for both. Jimmy and I were the first ones there. We ended up having a dinner where everyone had come in. We had dinner at the hotel that we're going to end up staying at, just story-telling. We had Butch and Claude Harmon there. We had a few of our caddies there with Davis and Strick. Strick ^ even fielded in a call from Tiger via speaker before he quickly shut it off and went and talked to him for about 30 minutes. Tiger's all in. He is putting a lot of work into this too.
So we were talking Ryder Cup. We were talking anything. We had breakfast the next morning. Then we went out, and everyone just kind of teed off and played. And the reason the groups were the groups is because -- I played with Brooks as well in ours. We had a five-some. But Butch's guys wanted to play together, and Phil joined those guys, and that was Rickie, Brandt, and Jimmy, so it was convenient for them to get work in. And Phil joined them because Phil probably has the potential of playing with a couple of those guys.
And then we played a five-some in our group and just had a match because there was nine of us. So the dynamic between the three guys that are trying to work their way in, we joked around that Davis was letting me and Brooks make the pick at the end of the round, and also they were playing low score, which obviously is not the case. But it was -- you could see how badly each of them wanted to be there, and I think, being on property, seeing -- it's all red. Massive grandstands that are all red. I think it really excited them even more for the opportunity. Hopefully, that frees them up and doesn't tense them up.
In my opinion, we want whoever's playing the best to be the last pick. There's, I think, five or six options. It's -- at this point, they've all asked all of our input, and it's going to be up to the captains to make that choice, and we're welcoming of whoever that is, obviously, and excited to move forward. Very friendly.
Q. Jordan, the FedEx Cup Playoffs have evolved a lot over the years. What does it mean to have your name on that trophy?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's -- and other players may not feel the same way, but the way I felt before last year and still feel now is that's going to be one of the most coveted trophies for many years to come. It's great. It's cool. I have mine at the house. It's right there next to U.S. Open replica, Masters replica. I think it's extremely important. You won the season-long race that year, and obviously, there's a significant bonus that comes with it, which is a life-changing type of experience. It's that meaningful to me overall. It encompasses it all. So it's extremely important.
If you ask guys what's the -- after a major, what's the next thing they want to win, there would be a short list of maybe an Olympic gold, FedExCup trophy, THE PLAYERS trophy, probably those three.
Q. You got your plan laid out for the week in terms of the next two weeks and you're all in for this week. What do you think it's like for Berger and Justin to basically treat this as a tryout, let alone a chance to win the FedExCup?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's challenging. I think it's tough. And the reason I say that is because I've spent a lot of time with both of them. Justin's admitted that he's put so much pressure on the Ryder Cup this year, he thinks it's negatively affected some of his performances where, if he didn't -- if it just wasn't on his mind at all, he'd have maybe felt a little less stress or pressure trying to grab points at the end of the round instead of just playing his game.
So I think this week -- I think the fact that he's recognized, that is going to help him. I think Berger's the same way. Bubba, what is he, 7 in the world? That's tough right there. If he plays well, he's the seventh-ranked golfer in the world. There's 24 players in the Ryder Cup that go down to -- I don't know what the lowest world ranking is. I don't know if anybody's ever been passed up at that spot, but they all know that, if they come in here and if they can somehow block that out and focus on this tournament, it will help all of them. For us, again, we want who's hot.
I don't know how they're going to do it, but, yeah, I think there's added pressure for sure.
Q. Could you make an argument to find out who's hot a week before this tournament? Since we don't know how long someone who's hot stays hot.
JORDAN SPIETH: Historically, from what I've seen on the PGA tour, somebody gets top three in the tournament, the next week they're normally back in the hunt again. I think that's the way we're looking at it. Sometimes someone wins and they miss the cut next week, rarely, but it just took a lot out of them to get the win. They, whatever, celebrated a couple of days and didn't grind the next week, whatever it may be, but if someone's in the hunt, they've got confidence in all parts of their games to be in the hunt.
I wouldn't go off of two weeks ago. I think there's more emphasis on this week given there's a lot of pressure on this week and what it means at the end of this week. You know, it was another tournament that would vault you into a great position at BMW or Deutsche Bank or Barclays, but this week is where that prize is, and if you're playing that well with that kind of prize at the end, that Ryder Cup pressure is going to be handled a bit better, I think.
Q. Going back to Ryder Cup, how much do you kind of build your year around it in Ryder Cup years in terms of attention, focus? Obviously behind the majors, where does it fall when you start thinking about it and those things?
JORDAN SPIETH: Certainly, I think about it, but it doesn't affect scheduling or anything like that at all. I play the schedule to give me a chance to win each golf tournament and to peak at the majors. If you take care of that, then you end up on the Ryder Cup team. Then you try to figure out the best chance you have to play your best golf there. That's what I think we've done this year.
By changing my schedule to prepare for next week, that was going these last two days. It's inconvenient to go up there and play those rounds and come down here. Last year I was here on Monday. First one here in preparing, but it shows you how much the fact that that's next week and the experience of two years ago, trying to make sure that I'm as rested and ready to go for those three days and hopefully doing my job and therefore playing five matches in three days, five rounds.
You need to be really well rested but also really know the golf course. So the scheduling changes only happen towards the very end, but it doesn't change much about how I'm thinking about the year. It's such a long year. There's so many shots you hit throughout the year. And not one point during the season did I think this was big for Ryder Cup. I just thought this was big for my goals, and my goals will take care of Ryder Cup.
Q. Jordan, we do miss Henrik Stenson this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sorry about that.
Q. But we do remember the battle you had last year. What do you remember from that one, and how much do you miss Henrik?
JORDAN SPIETH: I love battling out with Henrik. We did it in 2013 here as well. I saw that -- we all saw the Henrik Stenson that we know of there, and he brought it back this year. Just the absolute stroke show that he puts on, just so pretty to watch and very difficult to play against. Certainly miss him. You want the field to be as strong as possible, and you want, obviously, somebody who I've considered a friend, and he's been actually a mentor to me. He's been nothing but nice to me since my rookie year.
You want him to be healthy. You want him to be doing what he loves to do. And I think he's going to be when we see him up there. It was a fun battle last year too. I don't think of it as 2013. They were very different experiences. Ultimately we both got one on each other, and hope to have a lot of chances to battle out with him again going forward.
Q. You've got one of these. If you could just have one, what would it be?
JORDAN SPIETH: Ryder Cup or this one?
Q. You've got one of these. Which would it be?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's kind of rude. I would say Ryder Cup. I don't have a Ryder Cup. I think I will have a Ryder Cup at some point. I think that will be easier to win, easier to have a Ryder Cup than a FedExCup going forward, given you may not play your best and you've got teammates around you that play their best and win it.
But if you're saying 2016, right now, I've got a choice, Ryder Cup. You want something that you don't have. That's a trophy that I've watched the other side of it now, and it hurt. It was tough at the closing ceremony, and it was tough.
We had a good time that evening, but when we boarded the plane back home, it was an empty feeling. We don't want that again. We remember that, those of us that were there, and the guys that were there in Medinah, we want that celebration. We want that champagne falling off the balcony like they had wherever, in Valhalla.
I think I'm pretty confident about how we're going to go about our business. I think we've got a fantastic team this year, one of the best teams I can remember looking back at, and I love being a part of that.
Q. Jordan, it was always going to be a historic task to follow up from last season. Now that you've been through it, how do you feel the challenge was, and how do you feel you handled it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, at times good and bad. I certainly have regrets on how I've handled things throughout the year, and I think I've done well at other times. When you say it's a tall task, I mean, if I play for 25 more years, that would mean 125 wins and 52 majors. If I think about it that way, no, that wasn't going to happen. How can I still, when I have my chances to win tournaments, close them out? That doesn't mean you don't want to have it happen, but realistically that's not going to happen.
It was a good season this season. I let a major slip away. It was tough, but I'll have more chances. Like I've learned from things in the past, I'll learn from them again. So I'm confident about that.
I've got an opportunity now to make it still potentially one of the top couple seasons that anyone had this year if we take care of business this week and next week, and for that to be disappointing, that's great.
But, yeah, I think I've handled things well in situations. I think I've certainly learned from mistakes that I've made in approaching the lack of ability to live up to last year, but that's what comes with it. This is still -- this is my -- having had four full seasons on tour, and my friends are just out of college in their first jobs. Not to make excuses for myself, but handling that isn't exactly easy for someone where it's so fresh. I think we've done a pretty good job with it. I'll continue to learn and grow and be wiser in my approach to things and more patient in my approach to things.
And I do look back on the situations and try to learn from them.
Q. Jordan, what did you sense with Bubba, having spent the day with him, and seeing as how he's in the awkward spot, and what would it say if he didn't make the team as it's relates to the strength of the US side?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's still extremely strong either way. Very confident about the team we have. It doesn't take -- I couldn't imagine being in his position, wondering why at 7 in the world. So it's an awkward position to be in.
What do I sense from him? Well, we played a wolf game and on 18, he drove it down the fairway, and he went lone. He didn't pick anybody. And he hit it up there, and three guys -- I was the only one who wasn't inside his putt for birdie. Three other guys were. So he was at an extreme disadvantage, and he banged it in the back of the hole, won the hole. The next three missed, and he took home the money.
He was screaming about it on the 18th green, you know. He made the putt that -- so he was in great spirits. We had a great time. I just told him, when I saw him today, Man, yesterday was a lot of fun. You don't get to play those types of games that you play at home with the best players in the world. I mean, you play like little matches here and there, but you don't get to play like a wolf game or something like that. I love that. We had a great time with it.
He didn't seem upset about anything. He didn't seem like he was entitled to any position or any advantage over anybody else. I think he really feels like he needs to go do his job this week.
The more he's questioned about it, the more potential for that to bother him, which I hope he's not pestered with it all week. I hope he's freed up. I'm not going to ask you guys how to do your job, but I think it helps all of those out for our team. So I'm taking the papa bear, even though they're all older than me, position of I hope that they're freed up just to play their game this week and to bring out whatever they can and their best to have a chance to make that team.
Q. Jordan, what was your impression when you first heard that they're flipping the front nine and back nine? Was it good news or bad news? And how would it affect your overall play?
JORDAN SPIETH: A little bit of both. First impression was I had to think about the closing holes and the difference that would make. I think it's -- then I thought it was a really good change because what it does is it makes 5 and 6 into probably the hardest holes on the course, more pivotal, more pressure on them. They're now 14 and 15.
And then instead of having, like I mentioned earlier, three kind of par holes, you finish with four holes where you can make birdie. So you have to hold it in there and really pull off some incredible long iron shots on 5 and 6 just to make par, and then you have opportunity for birdies to end up, or even an eagle on the last to win $11.5 million. That's more exciting, I think, than the closing.
Although I really like the fact of going with a four-shot lead to a par 3. It was nice last year. We looked at the pin sheet, and we both just said, All right, let's just get it in the air. I had a 6 iron. The tees were up. When I saw that, I was like, All right, score number one, pins up. Score number two, it would be pretty hard to mess this one up. Let's hit it on the green and get in in two and get this thing over with.
So having said that, that just means that No. 9 is going to be a better hole. A lot of potential for good and bad on that hole. I think that that makes it better.
I love the scene too. The grandstands on the front nine is weird looking to me, but I love the scene around No. 9 -- No. 18. I'm sorry.
Q. Jordan, you were a rookie pick at the Presidents Cup, and you were still young, not yet a major winner in your first Ryder Cup. Do you -- everybody talks about experience, experience, experience in those team formats every year. Do you think sometimes that the energy and what a rookie can bring to that is overlooked or discounted in some way?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I would say maybe but in the Ryder Cup I didn't feel like we were discounted or overlooked with my team with Patrick, and we went out and did what we wanted to do. We were not shown up by the pressure of the Ryder Cup. Instead, we embraced it, I thought, together.
So I think the whole rookie and experience piece, it obviously hasn't worked for us in the past. So I don't think -- I wouldn't say it's better to have a rookie than an experienced player. I wouldn't say it's better to have an experienced player over a rookie. I don't think it makes much of a difference. To be honest, it's a matter of who's playing their best golf out of the group.
And with that, we know that anybody who's in consideration has -- they've all been able to deal with pressure throughout the last year, and in really high pressure situations, they've performed. You can think of situations with each one of them.
So no one's going to be overwhelmed by the Ryder Cup, I don't think. Maybe the first couple of holes. It's just tough to get started. Like my first Presidents Cup, Strick had to come to me on number 4 and say, you just take your time. I'll take this until you're settled in. I had a few water balls on the first four holes and a chunk. But once you get settled in it, whether that's the first hole or it takes a few, I don't think it makes much of a difference.
So I don't know if the captains feel that way, but as somebody who's recently experienced the rookie and the person who's done it before, I can say that I don't think it makes a difference in the personalities that we have that are in consideration.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports