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May 16, 2017
JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room here at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Jordan is making his 7th start at this event and his best finish was a tie for 16th place when he made his PGA TOUR debut in 2010.
Jordan, first off, get some comments on being back at a tournament that I know is really special to you.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, always happy to be back here. Got on the golf course, it's in beautiful shape. Very full, excited for the week. It's a really fun week.
I've got a house full of guys, contestants. I've got Kramer Hickok has a room here playing on a sponsor's invite, Alex Moon qualified yesterday and Smylie is staying with me. It's a fun week altogether on and off the course and would like to obviously have a fantastic kind of last go round here on this course and hopefully post my best finish in the last 7 years.
I've actually played it very well and kind of fallen off at the end a couple times. I feel that last year was a big confidence booster for my chances this year, having a chance on Sunday.
JOHN BUSH: You're currently No. 7 in the FedExCup. I know you'd love to do the AT&T double. Comment a little bit about your season so far.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It's been good. A little bit of a lull the last month or so, month and a half. And it's -- progress is coming. I've actually been progressing nicely.
I struck the ball beautifully this year and kind of -- haven't really figured out, just been a little off on the greens and I really like the work that I've been consistently putting in and just has yet to kind of start firing like it has in the past and that happens, and I've got an exciting stretch coming up with the next few weeks leading into the U.S. Open and then there on out for the kind of the second half of the year.
So, what better place to get than here.
JOHN BUSH: Some announcements are more fun that than others. You have a special announcement you would like to make today.
JORDAN SPIETH: Actually found a new partner in Wheaties. I'm going to be on the cover of 4 million Wheaties boxes later this year which is really cool, Breakfast of Champions.
You grow up seeing your favorite athletes on these boxes and used to walk down the aisle of the grocery store whenever my mom used to drag me along and always want to see who was on the cover and to actually be on one is a pretty special dream come true.
JOHN BUSH: You got Byron Nelson has been on the Wheaties cover, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods. Really special.
JORDAN SPIETH: It is. And what's cool, it's an honor in the fact that Wheaties looks for athletes that conduct themselves the right way on and off the field or course and I kind of thank them for including me in that category and hopefully I can continue to push towards the level of those other athletes on the cover.
JOHN BUSH: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Jordan, you talk about trying to make this a special week. Talk about your thoughts that this is the last time it's going to be at this course, a course you always got to play as a teenager and kind of embark on a career and dream.
JORDAN SPIETH: Not only that it's actually a course where we hosted my foundation event every year. It's a very special place for our family and friends. It's very bittersweet.
Obviously fantastic memories and looking forward to creating new ones this week and hopefully the best ones yet but also moving over to a course where I'm a member as well.
So, I'm really focused on this week and after that, you know, obviously there's a lot of people here at Four Seasons Club that have just done a phenomenal job over the years. It's one of the best events of the year.
It's a busy one for us but it's made so easy by the staff here and it will be difficult to replace that level and so it's a bit bittersweet. I'm looking forward to creating the best memories yet this week. I really like to get my name there by Byron's statue after coming out and looking at all those names for so many years.
Q. Is there one memory though that sticks out so far?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would say my first tee shot that I hit out here is tough to beat. Just I remember going over and hitting it off No. 10 and just kind of getting started in the last afternoon round and it's tough to pin one memory but that one is probably the most special at this point.
Q. Jordan, excuse me if this is a little outdated. I read something that you said maybe six months or so ago where you said you went through a period where for the first time since you were really young you didn't feel like you made an incremental improvement, like you always just gone from stage to stage to stage.
I'm curious how you sort of gotten through that or in your mind become comfortable with that. When you have the greatest year, one of the greatest years anyone ever had on the PGA TOUR is it maybe hard to find those incremental steps?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I certainly understood -- well, 2015 was the year you're talking about and then I started out 2016 with a better performance than any of them in 2015 at Hyundai, and at the time I remember saying I need to recognize that a year like last year is unrealistic but it doesn't mean I'm not going to strive to try and improve on 2015 and recognizing that it was going to be impossible to continue to better each year at that point.
I had reached a breaking point that just was almost unattainable to do maybe one more year. Comes down to resetting goals, staying focused on each tournament and not looking -- not putting too much pressure on needing to win and needing to keep up with what you've done before and instead recognizing how hard it is to win out here and really embracing when do you win and when you do contend.
That way you can learn from mistakes and you can also get closer and closer and not fall off so quickly. I did a little in '16. When I didn't quite win, I fell off to 12th. Kind of like this year's Masters in a way. I had that a couple different times and doing a better job grinding it out because you never know what happens at the end.
The problem this year so far has been my opening rounds. I just haven't had it. I've been behind the 8 ball too many times.
There was really two events that after the 1st Round I had been in the tournament and that was Peeble Beach and the team event in New Orleans, and we had great finishes there so premium on opening rounds to stay in the event and focus on tournament by tournament versus trying to do that each year.
Q. Are those Wheaties out here yet and, if so, are they going to be served at the Spieth Resort & Spa?
JORDAN SPIETH: There are Wheaties out. They don't have my picture yet. It's coming in the fall. Yeah, you can surely find some if you want.
Q. Secondly, you won at Colonial last year and every Tour player dreams of winning in front of their home crowd. Doesn't that count in a way? Do you think that takes maybe a little bit of the onus off winning here?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I didn't every think there really was one because I almost considered it inevitable. I guess that's somewhat cocky to say. I don't mean it in that sense. I'll play 25, 30 times at each place.
Likelihood is with the percentage of times that I went on Tour to tournaments played one of them is bound to fall there at each event. I didn't have too much pressure on me.
I did look at the big picture at that. And Colonial is an event the course fits me better. I almost won a couple other times there and I've actually almost won a couple times here as well but I just had more chances there.
It takes a bit off of this week I guess but I do consider them separate and this one to be that one that I grew up with my dad and I coming out and watching our favorite players -- I did that a little at Colonial. This one is definitely more home for me being in Dallas versus Ft. Worth.
But winning both is something that is a lifelong goal for me and I have this one yet to accomplish.
Q. Jordan you mentioned the roommates. Just to clarify, Alex and Kramer both living there now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. And Smylie as of this week. I don't know if he's going to leave or not. Not sure yet.
Q. As a grizzly old veteran, can you give them any kind of advice?
JORDAN SPIETH: Do a lot of chatting. Kramer is a little more analytic than Alex is. Alex played last year, too, so he can certainly go off of that experience.
Yes, they both come up for different questions at different times, just to speak from experience out here and I have I think been able to offer advice but everyone's experience is so different.
It's so tough to offer any kind of mental edge advice or so. It's more kind of course knowledge and what I've seen when the course plays soft and firm. That's more of kind of where I feel like I can really, you know, help friends out.
Q. Jordan, your thoughts on the new course where the Nelson will be held starting next year.
JORDAN SPIETH: Very interesting layout. Coore-Crenshaw. I talked to Ben about it, he's very proud of it. I've had some rounds where I think I shot 7-under and I've shot 7-over out there.
You can just -- it's all based on the conditions with a lot of really, really tricky spots around the greens. It's really -- it's not very difficult off the tee. It's about where you position the tee ball, which half of the fairway to be able to hold a lot of the greens on the approach shots and from there you want to stay below the hole.
It's a second shot course where you got to really think about where you're leaving the ball because everything looks very spacious, there's no trees, you can work different flights but it's very challenging if you're not really focused on where that ball is being left.
Q. Jordan, I was curious, after last weekend what needs to happen here at the Nelson for you to feel like your game is pointed in the right direction with the busy summer stretch coming up?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not much different. My game was in great condition last week. I hit the ball phenomenal and putting was great leading in. I just -- my one bad day of the week was Thursday striking the ball and I recognized what it was, I couldn't fix it in time for the round and then I fixed that on Friday but then I just didn't get any of the putts to go.
It's just like I'm losing coin flips here and just -- and so much. I feel great about the state of my game right now, I really do. I don't try and do too much, I don't -- then I'll be in good shape going forward.
I'm striking the ball as well as I've struck it this entire year which is as good as I've struck the ball on Tour is how I feel. My wedge play and putting are yet to kick into gear and it just takes a bit of momentum on course.
I can do all the practice I want, it's just seeing some go in on course, whether it's one round or through a streak of two tournaments, just to feel like it's all the way back to top notch. So, it's close.
Q. Do you have any different pre-teeoff rituals that you do that change from course to course depending upon success you have?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. My routine prior to a tournament round stays very consistent. I normally go to the putting green and hit 7-foot, 8-foot putts, work right edge, left wedge. Then I do four foot circles.
Then normally go to the chipping green and range and come back to the putting green to hit some more mid-range and speed-based putts and get a feel for that. I go to the tee. It's been like that my entire time going back as long as I can remember.
Q. Jordan, can you give us a little insight into what kind of life is going on at night when you guys get back to the house?
Are you talking just strictly what happened on the course, is it spring break extension (laughter)?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. It's tournament week like a rented house. Just happens to be my own bed, you know. So, we have different times and different things going on.
It's been -- it's not like we're sitting around talking about the round the next day. It's more just eating dinner and if we see each other, what time are you off, what time are you getting up? Nothing out of the ordinary.
But I think we had a little pool basketball yesterday but that's probably done after Monday. We're just on to tournament week schedule and everybody is so different.
Q. This week, how do you balance out try not to put too much pressure on yourself given that you really want to win this week, want to win every week but this week, especially?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's always been -- it's always been something to think about here, I guess is the best way to put it. But it's -- like I said, if I don't -- I imagine it can happen at some point in this tournament, I'll play it enough.
But I know that some courses fit you, some courses don't. This one I've been able coming in playing well to have a chance to win so I know that it's possible but it's not one where if I'm -- when I'm not playing well I finished -- I made the cut and finish 65th, 70s a couple times. That's actually rare. I don't do that very often.
I go into it not expecting that, not putting too much pressure on myself with it. I think that was more of a question when I was an amateur and then the first couple of years on Tour.
At this point, this is my 7th time. It's bizarre. Just feels like somewhat of another Byron to me. I know this week being last time being here, that will strike some feels but it's still a really fun week that I've learned to enjoy more than put that pressure on myself and even when I've been in contention, I've learned to enjoy having that with everybody around and it's helped me just have a better time this week.
Q. Jordan, can you talk about the finishing holes here at TPC Las Colinas and specifically how you prepare for the 18th hole?
JORDAN SPIETH: They're very challenging. 16 is a par 5 that will play under par for the week so you almost really expect to have a chance to make birdie and, if you don't, you feel like you lost something to the field because you did.
But what's going to happen this week, we're going to get two different winds which is not uncommon in May here, 16 into the wind like today, first couple days and looks likes it's going to flip and it's going to be down-breeze on 16, 17 and 18 instead of playing into it .
That obviously changes the dynamic of the hole significantly, it becomes reachable and 17 becomes a mid-iron instead of a long iron and 18 you can hit driver or 3-wood and it becomes an easier hole.
So, they're challenging. If you can play them at even par you've done a really good job no matter what the conditions are and you got to accept that.
The greens are very important, especially 17 and 18 and even though the greens are big out here and there's different shelves and stuff, if you don't try and do too much and just go ahead and play towards the center and work it to the pin from there, that's how you start working your way under par.
I didn't feel like I had my game on point last year at this time, especially ball-striking, and we found a way to be, I don't know, 16-under par or 12, I don't remember exactly what it was, 12 to 16 through three rounds by making sure I was in the right spots on the greens.
That's very important on those last two holes. 18, you know, the water is bad obviously but you go right you see guys make higher scores than guys that go in the water. You got to pick a spot and stick with it and just accept whatever comes next.
Q. Jordan, forgive me, you played in the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills?
JORDAN SPIETH: I did.
Q. Who should we expect there, what do you think of the course and do you think it's an advantage that you played there in competition before?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so just because I don't really remember that much about it. That's a quarter of my life ago (laughter).
But I remember it being a fun golf course, link-ish style but not played like links because you do have to fly the ball on to the green and fly it on to the fairways because of bunkers kind of in the middle like an American-type links.
I made it through the Quarters. I remember playing it pretty well, bigger greens and complexes and I remember the finishing holes, I remember 16, 17, 18 you got a shorter par 4, par 3 that could be a blind shot on 17 to the left pins and then a par 5 with no water but a bunch of bunkering and it will create a pretty exciting finish where with three actual potential birdie holes in a U.S. Open, which you don't see very often.
You kind of had a very similar finish at Chambers Bay, actually very similar to the way that those three played. I don't necessarily consider it much of an advantage.
I'll get in early and do some homework and I'm sure that will bring -- I might be able to adjust to knowing the course quicker than people who haven't seen it but by the time the tournament starts, everyone will be pretty much the same homework.
Q. I'm guessing you remember the feeling of coming out on Tour and needing to win X -- earn X amount of dollars to earn your card.
I wonder about Alex yesterday, when did you find out he had shot 7-under and just living with a guy who is sort of going through that, trying to make it out here.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. He texted myself and Kramer and I shouldn't necessarily say exactly -- he was really excited (laughter).
So we were obviously very excited for him and really cool. I mean he kind of had a couple tournaments where he's working hard and wasn't quite getting the results out of it and came out and did that when he needed to have that.
I would, if I were him, I think he's going to look to last year and I think it will really help him, the experience he went through. I know he made a few birdies and an eagle and had a chance to make the cut but I think he was, you know, really just didn't know what to expect and had all his family here and people coming in from out of town and I'm not sure if that's going to happen again but if it does he would have been through that, maybe take a little bit of the pressure off and be able to settle in and be himself.
He's a great putter of the golf ball and got a really good game, good solid game. Shot a really good score coming off that early in the week, you can draw off that. You shoot a low score on Monday or Tuesday practice round or something you feel good about the shape of your game. Looking forward to a strong performance by our house this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports