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March 20, 2017

Jordan Spieth

Austin, Texas


CHRIS REIMER: Want to welcome Jordan Spieth here to World Golf Championship Dell Technologies Match Play. Just found out your group. First off, some opening comments about being here in Austin.

JORDAN SPIETH: This is a second home to me. My only other place I've actually called home. I love coming back to Austin. It's just an incredible city. It's beautiful. It's active. I feel like it encompasses what I love in a city. It's probably my favorite city in the world.

And obviously I've got a lot of great memories here from going to college here. I assume all you-all really enjoy the places you went to college at. So it's nice to be able to come back and actually work and play in front of pretty much a hometown crowd here.

And there's five events in the state of Texas now, and it's really cool for me, personally. And I certainly feel that support out there. So it's a wonderful week.

Q. Pressure is probably not the right word here. But when you go to the Colonial and the Byron and last year here, do you put more on it? Is it a different feeling because are kind of back home, and how do you express what tournaments like this and the Byron and Colonial mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think I put anymore pressure on it. The Byron would maybe be the one where I would struggle with that. But I settle in and enjoy it more when it's going well.

And I played extremely well in the first three rounds last year and kind of had my off day. I had a bad time where I met Louis, who ended up going to the finals.

No, to answer your question, I don't -- this is a familiar tract for me, and it's a familiar place for me just being around -- people asking me where to go to dinner and what to do. That doesn't happen very often. I feel more comfortable here, and I think it's easier to settle in on the positive side of things, and easier to enjoy when it's not quite going so well. It's advantageous, I guess is what I'm trying to say.

Q. Last year I know match play is a much different format, but your experience last year at ACC, how would you approach this format in the front nine and the back nine differently than you did last year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not much. Again, I played it really solid. This tournament is difficult to win because you can't shoot 6-under seven times in a row. Nobody does it. So your days where you maybe shoot 1, 2-under, your off days need to be 1 or 2-under, for one thing. And when that happens you hope you meet an opponent who is around the same.

In order to win a match play event, which I've done going back to U.S. Juniors, you've got to squeak out one or two wins where that wasn't very pretty. And that's kind of how it works in this event. Guys aren't running away from it. And you don't get lucky with the guy across from you not playing his best. You meet a guy when he's playing great and you're playing great and you have to win that match. And then if you're off, if they're a little off, you have to find something in you that allows win it.

I'm not going to approach this week any different from last year because I did play it extremely well. I think last year, the only thing I would say, I got a little ahead of myself thinking I made to make too many birdies. And the course got pretty firm and fast and the wind was picking up and it became difficult. The practice rounds, it's a little bit softer and you're not quite hitting it as far as you do in the tournament rounds. And all of a sudden the ball is running pretty far, maybe could hit less club off the tees and play away from pins a little more than I did. They're very difficult to get out here because the greens have tremendous shape to them. And they're hard to get to the next tier next to the hole. But at the same time you don't need to.

You're only playing against one other guy. Play off of him. Take chances where you need to, but back off where you need to.

And I maybe got a little bit too aggressive mentally against Louis. And he's a very difficult player to play match play, such a beautiful swing, a great driver of the golf ball, makes you think you have to do more than you really need to do.

I've got a tough group. I don't know much about two of my players, which is somewhat of a disadvantage to not know much about their games. And I do have Ryan Moore, who I do know about his game. If you had to go down the list of players here, he would be on most of the guys top 5 most difficult player to play in match play. So it's going to be difficult just getting out of the group stage this year.

Q. Speaking of these Texas tournaments, why is it you choose to play the tournament just before the Masters, which is, of course, Houston?
JORDAN SPIETH: I play it -- I love playing the week before the Masters. The reason being it's worked. I don't know if it works otherwise. But I like the fact that it has worked. I've missed the cut in Houston and almost won, and I've almost won Houston and then did win the Masters. So the fact that I'm playing the week before is important to me. Houston, the golf course is set up very similar to Augusta. The gas grass is very pure, the greens get quicker. Pretty similar green complexes and very similar grass around the greens. And the fact that you can hit shots under pressure and in a tournament setting is useful for me.

Q. Is Augusta on your mind? Do you want it to be on your mind?
JORDAN SPIETH: It is. I'm thinking about it more and more as we get closer. That's not abnormal. It's been that way. The anticipation for the first major is different from the others because you wait so long for it. It's an elongated anticipation that probably kicks in probably right at the start of the year.

You're thinking, you're planning schedule, you're planning anything you want to work on in your swing, anything you want to do in the gym. Everything is planning to peak for the Masters. So we're getting close now and these couple of weeks are -- the Masters will be in my mind as far as what I'm doing to prepare. How much time I'm spending, practicing different parts of my game the next two weeks. So when I get to Augusta, it's just minor adjustments to the conditions that are there and then go. And that's what it's been the last couple of years.

And that's the plan here. So there will be different times of heavy practice and different times of backing off. Different times of heavy strength days in the gym and different times of more mobility, flexibility type days. And we've got that all planned out the way we have the last couple of years.

Q. Is it any different not being the defending champion?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I won it when I wasn't the defending champion, so maybe it's a good thing.

Q. Two things. Except for three times by Tiger, none of the top seven seeds ever won the match play. And then they went to this format and we've had No. 1 and No. 2 win it. Coincidence?
JORDAN SPIETH: Normally the more rounds you play, the more separation you get. But at the same time -- and the fact that you can get away with losing a match. So again it goes to -- I'm not sure, but I would say it gives you the opportunity of playing more rounds on the golf course, still advancing if you have an off day.

In the grand scheme of things, throughout seven rounds the better players -- the guys who are hotter will typically separate themselves. And the guys who are hotter typically in the top, what is it, 30 in the world -- not necessarily the case here. You run into a lot of guys who move their way in off of the last month of golf. And they'll continue to play well. But normally over the course of time versus a win or go home, guys in the top-30 separate themselves. That's why they're in the top-30.

Q. Secondly, you lost to Ernie, I'm going to say, quarterfinals? Does that sound right?
JORDAN SPIETH: I putted like Ben Crenshaw.

Q. And then Westwood beats you to keep you from going to group play. And then Louis last year. Which one irritated you the most and why?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it was -- it was definitely Ernie, to answer your question. No question about it. But the reason being I felt really good about the way I was striking it there. And putting it.

I felt better than maybe the last couple of years about the way I was playing at that time. I also thought -- that was a one and done format. So I was almost feeling like I had won more important matches. I was riding momentum. Each time I'd knocked off a guy and made them go home, versus getting this round robin play, when you're not sure what's going to happen until the end. You're still in control of your own destiny. But that one felt like March Madness, and now I'm confused how it feels the first three days.

So I got to Ernie and I'm like, okay, you know what, I can out-putt Ernie -- or I felt that way. And then he made three 30-footers on the front nine. I don't know if I can beat Ernie if he's making 30-footers. And I was also -- I let my frustration get to me a lot there, and that frustrated me looking back on it.

I was a bit of a mental midget that day. I wasn't proud of it. I think I tweeted apologizing that day for some of my outbursts, which is abnormal for me. And learned a lot because it would have been a lot easier for Ernie to stay mentally strong when the guy across from you and obviously verbally, mentally weak that day and I was. And so looking back that was the most frustrating loss.

Q. What about Louis?
JORDAN SPIETH: If you're going to try to make it worse by using adjectives here, then I can say that -- yeah. I'd love to win this tournament being here. I'd love to. I'm also not going to win it every year. And I lost to a guy who's a major champion and went to the finals. Was obviously playing that well. So that one wasn't necessarily as tough on me.

The one before, the one against Ernie, I just beat Kuch. Kuch is a difficult match play, too. And I shot 6-under against him. And then I just had an off day and didn't squeak by. What I was talking about earlier. You've just got to win those off days -- that off day or two that you'll have if you're playing to the caliber of winning.

What's funny, Michael reminded me today, against Lee Westwood, we were 16 under in those three rounds and I didn't advance. And that will happen, too. It's match play. Not often the guy who would win if we had a four round stroke play event, actually very rarely does that guy win this tournament. But that's nice about the change of pace.

Q. Unofficial, official ambassador, whatever you want to call it this week, coming here for the second time, does it feel easier, maybe less people pulling you in different direction and asking for tips and extra things outside of the golf course?
JORDAN SPIETH: Potentially. Just because I was just -- I was interested in how everything would look. Just personally it might be a little bit easier this week. No, I wasn't pulled in too many directions either year. And if we are, I calmly swiff that off to him back in the corner and he deals with it.

But I think this year just having seen what happened last year and the best players that week did prevail. I think kind of a deep breath, as almost taking it a little personally on what we think of having it here in the state of Texas and in Austin, and at Austin Country Club, a place I spent a lot of time at. I was really, really pleased with how last year went. And I think that's taken a bit of the anticipation off this week, this year.

Q. The way the Masters ended last year, I wonder if it affected your fans almost more than you because --
JORDAN SPIETH: It's hard for me to -- are you a fan of mine?

Q. Absolutely.
JORDAN SPIETH: Did it affect you?

Q. I heard fans came up and felt bad for you. And you were over it already.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's -- I mentioned it earlier today in an interview. No matter what happens at this year's Masters, whether I can grab the jacket back or I miss the cut or I finish 30th, it will be nice having this Masters go by. The Masters lives on for a year. It brings a non-golf audience into golf. And it will be nice once this year's finished, from my point of view, to be brutally honest with you.

It would be best if I could reclaim the jacket. But I believe that I'll be back up there sooner or later, just the way that we play the golf course, the success we've had and the comfort level I have there. Whether it happens this year or not, but it will just be nice because that tournament, it's a 365-day thing. There's no other Masters.

I don't know if the fans are different than me, but, yeah, we won in Colonial three starts later. So as far as affecting me on course when I'm in a tournament, I think that answer is clear, it doesn't do that. But as far as just having all the questions be done, I'm pretty sure they will be.

Q. How many times have you been back?
JORDAN SPIETH: I played it in December twice. And I'm planning on going in between Austin and Houston, depending on how things work out.

Q. You said you're thinking about Augusta. What do you have to say for yourself this week and next week to know things are looking good?
JORDAN SPIETH: Short game improvement. My ball-striking has been great this year. If my short game was up to the standard I typically have it at, we'd have even had a stronger start to the year, which I think it's been really strong. So short game improvement.

I'm working on little things in my set up, on my putting, just to be really square, which feels a tiny bit awkward to me until I rep it in and the last couple of days have been very solid with it. I've had Cameron's eye, my instructor, which is very important to me to have his eye while I'm doing practice. And I felt more comfortable with it already. So certainly short game improvement would be something I'm looking forward to for Augusta.

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