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September 27, 2016
JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back to the 41st Ryder Cup. Pleased to be joined by Jordan Spieth of the United States Ryder Cup team.
Jordan, I don't believe you'd had an opportunity to play Hazeltine until last week, so maybe you could give us your initial impressions of what you see out there.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a beautiful golf course. Obviously the last five holes maybe have changed or swapped from the major championships that have been held here. Should be a lot of fun.
You make sure you play now 7, 8 and 9, which may not have been played in match play. It's a beautiful golf course, greens are going to be really fast. Looks like we have great weather coming. And the rough is down a little, so we expect a lot of birdies. We expect that we have to make a lot of birdies in order to win our matches, and that's the mind-set we have going in.
But really enjoyed our time up here thus far, and had a great couple rounds last week, and then I played nine holes today. The course is just in phenomenal shape. Should be a really exciting week. This is probably the most fun week of the year -- actually, it's definitely the most fun week of the year, and we really try and enjoy the process, as well as preparing like we prepare for a major. That can sometimes be a tricky combo, but we feel very comfortable this year with the team that we have and very confident, as well.
JOHN DEVER: You've gone on the record a few times lately talking about the importance of this event and winning. What's kind of fueled that fire for you, if you could clue us into that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, I think we're just tired of being told that we haven't won in a while. I've only played on one -- felt like Patrick and I made a good team. We're actually very successful in our own right, but this is a team. There are ways that we both could have improved to be better in what we did and everybody has to take part and do their job in order to have the Cup at the end.
We want this one; we're over here. It's going to be really cool having a home crowd. I only know that from my first Presidents Cup experience, so this should be a different animal when we get on the first tee on Friday. And I'm really excited about that.
It's very nice people, but very passionate sports fans in this area. People will be traveling in from all over, I'm sure. Huge crowds today already. It will be great hearing the roars and creating the roars that echo throughout the golf gorse, instead of the small ones in the middle of the big ones like we had over in Europe. So I'm really looking forward to that part of it.
Q. It seems like everybody has an Arnold Palmer story. Do you have a story or just your thoughts on him as he will be so present in everyone's minds this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, he certainly will be on both teams. Very inspirational to every single player in this event and everyone that really plays the game. I know he is to all of y'all.
Personally I don't have as much experience with the King as other players do on both sides, but I did have the opportunity to meet him. I've had dinner with him.
I first met him on the Wednesday evening prior to the 2014 Masters, my first Masters. I went to the members kind of cocktail reception they have outside the front of the clubhouse -- the back of the clubhouse, and he was standing with Mr. Nicklaus, and I was pretty nervous -- I was actually more nervous there than I was on the first tee hitting my first shot at the Masters; to walk up and just introduce myself and say hello.
I believe I had met Jack once before but I had never met Mr. Palmer, and I just kind of stood with them for a second, and Jack did a lot of the conversing with me, but Mr. Palmer was there, as well. It was really special. You're standing with probably the two greatest names in the sport.
Any time I was around him or saw him, he was always -- treated everybody equally. Not that anybody shouldn't treat anybody different, but he wanted to make everyone feel like they were his friend because he kind of wanted to be friends with everybody. Probably the best people person that the game has ever seen.
You know, it's very difficult with this time now, in the age of social media and just people grabbing at you here and there, to maybe create -- I don't think anybody will create the impact that he's ever had. I'm trying to make excuses for today's golfers, but he kind of transcended it, and he's the one who is very responsible for us being able to make a good living at what we do. You know, he took the game from hard working, you've got to win a lot of tournaments to kind of break even for your family to a game where Tiger then obviously stepped the pedal down and made it a different sport.
So we all owe everything we have in the game of golf, at least a bit of it, to Arnold Palmer.
Q. What's the earliest Ryder Cup you can recall watching as a kid? And secondly, the dynamic with Patrick, what about that pairing seems to work so well?
JORDAN SPIETH: I want to say, I mean, I was six years old. But '99, certainly that was big in Dallas. We had Justin Leonard, who he's one of our own. I don't really remember watching it, but I remember the time of it and the excitement of it.
Other than that, you know, yeah, it would be early 2002 maybe or 2004. It was something that I had certainly made sure I watched every single year. I've watched every Ryder Cup. Some of them blend together from those early years, because I was 10, 11 years old.
But it's always been, the Ryder Cup and the Masters are the two events I wanted to win in my life. That was my goal growing up playing the game and wanting to play professionally. And we have an opportunity to accomplish another -- the other side, the other largest goal that I've set for myself, which is exciting.
The pairing with Patrick, I think kind of because we just want to beat the crap out of each other to be honest. No, we've played a lot of golf together. We've been paired a lot and we've always seemed to play well in the same groups, and part of it is because we want to beat each other. We always have wanted to. But at the same time, we both have a lot of confidence in the fire the other one brings.
I know that if I give Patrick a six and a half footer to win the match, he's going to want that. He wants to step up and knock that thing right in the back of the cup and give a roar. I want the putt; I'd rather have it than him because I want to be able to be the one to do it. But we both have that confidence in each other.
We've played well in the past in the same group. We just kind of can feed off each other. He seems to have -- we both make a lot of birdies. His come on par 5s and 4s, mine have been more on 4s and 3s historically. We've kind of talked to Davis about the stats with it and it matches up really well in that best ball format.
So we'll see what happens. I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen. I know we have a great pod with Kuch and D.J. and Patrick and things could adjust over next few days. I'm in wherever Captain puts me. I have full trust in everything. They say that they have done with the homework behind it to create the best scenario for this team. But this is definitely a match-up that we would look forward to playing in.
Q. Can you try and paint a picture for us of stepping out for the first time at a Ryder Cup on that first tee there? I know you've experienced it before, but what's it like? What's the adrenaline like when you get out there and feed off the energy of the crowds?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's funny, to paint a picture -- I actually asked for a painted picture of that, and I have it in my kitchen/living room. It's the main piece of artwork that's in my house, is right after I struck my first tee shot at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. It's a beautiful painting. I don't have anything around the house of myself up except for that, and it's that special to me.
It was that and the 18th green of the Masters in 2015, probably the two most special moments, and then obviously in the scorer's tent with Michael at the U.S. Open. Those are the most -- kind of the most exciting moments for me in golf, and I've prepared my whole life to have those kind of moments.
It was the first tee shot. We didn't win the Ryder Cup. I didn't make a putt to win the match there. It was just that feeling. You hear the echos of the chants through the Scottish, you know, hill country back to the range, and you know that you're about to walk into an away game which we don't ever really experience. I remember walking out there and just a ton of people, and trying to decide -- it was the 3-wood all day, but do I maybe hit driver because it's a bigger head, you know. You put the tee on the ground, your hand is shaking, you're trying to get the ball on to the tee.
Hopefully this time, having done it before, comes a little easier. But I hit a great shot, which was what makes me so excited about that painting was because it's as nervous as I've ever been and probably the best 3-wood I've ever hit. I take confidence every time I see that.
You asked to paint a picture; I asked the same thing and I try and look at it every day.
Q. With regard to Ryan Moore, your last man in, so to speak, can you relate to his crazy last couple of days for him. I kind of remember you -- you came to the British Open and all that craziness, the last-minute stuff. Can you talk a little bit about relating to that and what you think he brings to the team?
JORDAN SPIETH: Maybe to an extent. Not to the -- not to the extent he's experiencing. But yeah, when you last minute -- I had expected to play in the Rockford Pro-Am the next day after the John Deere, and all of a sudden we're trying to jump on a charter without any long-sleeve clothes to go to The Open Championship, which was great.
You know, you just kind of -- this game has ups and downs and when you get those kind of ups, you just embrace them. I'm sure that's what Ryan's doing. We're all very confident with our entire 12-man roster. We were going to be no matter who the 12th pick was, and Ryan is obviously in very good form. Made some huge putts, plural, at the end, in very high-pressure situations, which is nice to carry over into what we all experience at the Ryder Cup.
So to an extent, sure. I'm sure he's just embracing it. What a fantastic match play record he has, as well. He's going to be very tough. He's in every hole. He's actually, I think, the second half of the year led the Tour in rounds in the 60s and birdie and eagle per round; I think I saw that somewhere. So that's nice to have on our side.
But I'm sure it's got to be a bit of a whirlwind. Ryan is such a laid back guy that I haven't seen it, I haven't seen any kind of nervousness or just anything but him being himself. He's just kind of normal Ryan from what I can tell. He might be able to tell you differently.
Q. Because I love the phrasing, could you paint a picture of what Phil is like in the team room?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know if any artist would really want to take that one over. He's such a positive influence. Tells a lot of great stories going back.
It was funny last night, just sitting in the team room -- I was actually at the same table at dinner sitting across with Tiger with Notah there. I had Annie with me and D.J. had Paulina, and Phil was next to us, so it was a good table. Then afterwards we had Tiger, Jim Furyk, Phil, just trading stories, going back years in the past. Tiger and Phil talking about when they played best ball. Just good stuff.
They bring the stories that you wish everybody could experience, but at the same time makes you feel like it's really even more of a special place to be able to hear these stories, and from the words of the players that were involved in them and the greats of the game. Makes you feel really special just being there and being in the presence.
Phil brings -- he's going to tell it how it is. He's going to come up to each and every person and tell them something that he really appreciates and likes about their game and how confident he is in how they are going to play that week. And we all believe that, but still to come and have Phil Mickelson to come right in your face and tell you that, it's really nice. It's a great feeling and it does give you an extra level of confidence. He's done that already with me this week.
He sets high expectations for this team, just like our captains do, and they should. And we should come through with them.
Q. What did he like about your game?
JORDAN SPIETH: What did he like about my game? A lot of the stuff we talk about we'll just keep to ourselves, but he said very nice things, as he does to everybody. And he gives y'all a lot to write about, too, so everyone likes him because of that (smiling).
Q. I know it's early in the week, but do you detect a different vibe in the home team room, maybe a more positive vibe?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think so, yeah. Already. I've mentioned that a couple times.
Again, it's so early that -- Gleneagles, we had, we got over there and -- it seems like we have an extra day here. I don't know if we actually do. It just seems maybe because of the time difference, whatever it may be, I feel just a little more calm, I mean, personally, and it seems like the team room feels that way, as well.
We'll have a good barbeque tonight in the team room and just kind of be together. Last night was a fun dinner, and then we have our gala and our ceremony. Tonight is the last night of kind of relaxation, and be able to tell you a bit more about the feelings after tonight. It is early but it does feel that way.
Q. How does your working relationship and trust with your caddie evolve in the context of a team event like this, as opposed to a normal Tour event, and your relationship in particular with him?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not much different honestly. We're very passionate, and Michael works as hard as anybody works at their job, no matter what it may be. He gets so fired up for these team events. I mean, the guy can't sleep. I don't know if he slept this week.
It's so great to see it. He was such a huge fan of it before he thought he could be a part of it, same as myself. One of us, and I think it's got to be me, has to kind of bring back to reality a little bit. But he's great with it, too.
We've had a lot of fun this week thus far, and he's such a great people person, and all these caddies on the team and the players are really good friends of his, and everyone very much respects him and our relationship and believe that as a team, you know, we're just going to do what we do. Won't really change much other than a bit of strategy, and we both recognize when those times come up.
But he's preparing the way he would prepare for a major and expects me to do the same.
Q. I was just wondering, what kind of traits do you bring leadership-wise to the team room having been one of the most accomplished players over the last couple years, but still being one of the young guys? Are you kind of trying to figure out your place there, or are you comfortable being vocal at your age?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, a bit. It's a tough line, sure. I think that there are times where I can step in from just a little bit of experience but I am definitely listening to those with a lot more experience. I'm trying to learn a lot more than I am trying to speak, speak out, and give any kind of wisdom.
You know, I think as a teammate, whoever I'm partnered with, there are times where I can really step in and bring something to the table. But other than that, just go to Ryan, Brooks -- other than those two, I'm about as inexperienced as anybody in the Ryder Cup on this team. A little bit of both. It's a bit tricky, I guess. But again, everyone is out to do their good job, have a good time with each other, make this a memorable week and prepare like you would prepare for the biggest tournament of your life, and hopefully we're freed up with the format that we've chosen, who our partners are when we are going off and everybody is confident with that, and then they do their part.
You know, Captain's told us he believes we're -- as anybody should tell their team, he believes that we're the best team in the world. And we believe that, as well. So there's not a whole lot that needs to be said more than Captain Love is giving us, but if there's a time or feel the need, then sure, I'll be confident in stepping up and saying something.
Q. Since 1983, which is when the Ryder Cup started becoming very competitive, in the 23 years since, the singles matches have been almost dead even, but Europe does much better this both kinds of pairs matches. I guess as like a thinking man's player, I wonder if you've thought about that at all or if you have any theories as to why that is because it's hard to figure out?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, personally, I've had a much better record in the team matches than I have in singles considering I haven't won a singles match in any professional team sport event. I'm 0-3, so I'd like to correct that part of it myself.
Your question is, because I like -- I'm a golf historian, to a sense. Why is that the case? I'm not sure. I mean, in 2012 -- in 2012, the Americans did the job that Davis Love put out. The job of the captains is to create a lead going into singles, and then you just create the opportunity in singles for players to go out and just play their own game.
Honestly, if we believe we're a deeper team, then we believe that we'll win singles. But ultimately, if it ends up even, and the captains did their job to win those other -- players and captains did their job in the other formats, then you end up winning.
I guess '99, the Europeans did it better to start and we came back. 2012 was kind of the flip of that. So I don't think enough credit's been given to our captains of the 2012 team for what they did with the team because they did their job. They won what they were set out to win, which is the first two days.
I don't know why the Europeans have a better record in the team play. They don't play any more team events over there, I don't think. They all come from different countries. Some of them speak different languages that are even on the same team. I think they have just felt more relaxed going in, and I mean, again I've only been a part of one.
Our experience over there was pretty tense, and this one feels a bit different, so we're confident about that. But it's hard for me coming from one Ryder Cup team room, which was a different one from other ones, to speak to why the Europeans would have more success in the actual team part of the Ryder Cup. I can't give you a really good answer on that. Sorry about that. Phil could. He's played in 11 of them. He'll tell you that, too (laughter).
Q. Along those lines, you just touched on this a little bit, but in terms of your voice in the locker room, just curious what sort of input or maybe how much input you have when it comes to things like the pairings or format, or even down to the last captain's pick.
JORDAN SPIETH: I feel like quite a bit. I feel like -- I feel like I personally can go into any of the captains and say, here is what I'm thinking, and it would be seriously taken and possibly altered. I feel like I do have an impact. But I don't think that's any different from any other player, either.
And far as the captain's pick goes, I texted him and said this is -- I mean, we were talking and just thought it was a really tough decision. It was really tough. There's no right answer; there's no wrong answer. But once it's made, whatever they decide, our team is 100% behind it. The other 11 guys are obviously open and welcome.
I think what Bubba Watson did in reaction speaks a lot to his character that he doesn't get a lot of credit for, which is -- Davis talked to Bubba and told him what was going to happen, and Bubba wondered why, as anybody would. And then soon thereafter said, Okay, is there any way that I can be a part of this team and help this team out, any way? I don't care if I'm there to go get guys waters and I'm not a part of any of the team meetings; I don't care if I'm just there as a fan; I don't care if I'm an assistant captain. Is there anything I can do to help this team out to have a better chance to win?
And after a guy who is, what, seven in the world and doesn't get a pick, to sit there and say that at that moment when he feels like he did his job on the weekend at The TOUR Championship, which is play really solid golf on the weekend, it's really big of him, and we're very much welcoming.
Davis asked what we thought; we said bring him in, that would be awesome, love to have him. He's here and he's already been helpful today.
JOHN DEVER: Jordan Spieth, thank you for your time and enjoy your week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports