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July 20, 2017

Jordan Spieth

Southport, England

MIKE WOODCOCK: We're joined by Jordan Spieth. Excellent 5-under par round with a round of 65 today. You must be delighted to get off to such a good start.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, I thought today's round was extremely important, as they all are, but given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today. You can certainly make up ground, in a round like tomorrow, and we'll see it happen, but being able to kind of play with shots or play a little more conservative, you make a bogey, because you don't try to do too much on a day like tomorrow, that's nice and very helpful.

So really good start. Everything was strong. I thought I give it a nine across the board for everything - tee balls, ball-striking, short game and putting. So things are in check. It's just about keeping it consistent.

Q. Of all the shots, the bunker shot on 16, and Phil might not have thought it was a big deal, but it was one for you, what were you trying to do?
JORDAN SPIETH: It was. I thought it was the best shot of the day, no doubt about it. I went on 15 into the bunker and I had a tremendous lie, couldn't have been sitting better. And didn't get it up and down. And went to 16 and it just crept into the back. The way these bunkers are raked, they're raked, if you're facing the bunker, vertically on say three-quarters of it or two-thirds of it, and then you've got a bit on each side that's raked horizontally. So if it creeps in, you get a tough, in-between-the-rake-print lies. I was on the downslope of one of those where I knew I couldn't catch any spin, with a shot that you had to get up quickly, and then if it got running at all, it could -- if I were to hit it at the hole and it goes more than four feet, five feet past the hole, it can go off the green the other side and be in the downslope of the next bunker. I could have played hockey there; I could have gone back and forth.

I played it off to the right to be a bit safe and I put a ton of velocity with an open face to it. I'm fortunate we've been practicing that. I've been practicing out of uneven lies this entire week in preparation for a shot like that. And that certainly won't be the last one I'll have either, but that up-and-down was harder than hitting a 7-iron to 15 feet and making it. And I was only 35 feet from the hole. It happens out here. That was a really, really nice bunker shot that kept me to making 5 is the worst score with another birdie or two birdie holes left.

Q. What would you have needed to do to have 10 across the board today?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think that's extremely rare. I could name a few rounds in my life that I would say everything was on. I still missed tee shots, a couple more than I really wanted to. And I had a couple of putts that were within 10, 12 feet that missed. But I'm pretty much saying it was really, really solid all around.

Q. And then a follow-up Karen question: You were chewing gum out there, was that a calming thing for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I brushed my teeth and then I ate breakfast. And then I got out here and Cameron offered me a piece of gun, I was 1-under through two, and I thought I better keep it in and it's still in now. It's probably about time for a new piece.

Payne Stewart used to do it and it served him well. But I think mint has some sort of effect on nerves. But I was still feeling them a bit out there. So I don't think it's beneficial at all.

Q. I hope it wasn't performance-enhancing gum.
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think that exists.

Q. That aside, taking everything into account, the weather and the vagaries of links golf, a major, your form, where does that round fit in terms of major rounds that you've played in your career so far?
JORDAN SPIETH: It could be a lot more significant in three days' time than I would consider it right now. I'd call it a top five probably, major round that I've played, maybe fifth or sixth, something like that. There are scores that I've shot that were closer to par that were better given what I needed to do.

But I couldn't have done much better today. I missed two greens. I think I missed three, but one of them I was putting from the fringe. So essentially missed two greens today in some 15-mile-an-hour winds. This course has a lot of crosswinds, so it's tough to judge how far the ball is going to fly depending on what shot you play. So that speaks a lot to the ball-striking of the day.

Q. No one here listening to you earlier in the week would be surprised by that score today. Can you recall feeling as confident coming into a major as you seem to be this week and why was that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, our last start was a win. I also was very close at the U.S. Open and very close at the Masters. The Masters, I got off to a really poor start the first day and played pretty well after. But the U.S. Open it was everything but the putter. I was in a good enough position to really do something special there the first couple of rounds of the U.S. Open and just didn't get anything to go. I've been putting in a lot of work with the putting and trying to get it back to the confidence that I've had the last couple of years. It's just been the one thing that's been off this year. My ball-striking has been better in any years that I've ever played golf.

It's been about capitalizing, which is frustrating, considering I'm used to seeing the ball go in. And then I'm hitting it in tighter but it hasn't been going in. But then we won. Three weeks ago, and then I had some rest. So I feel rested and confident, which is a good feeling. It's tough to have that feeling this late in the season. I thought that was an important break for me.

Q. How long did it take you to get used to the weather? You said the crosswinds, and you were talking two days ago about getting the worst. This is not the worst, certainly, but when you get out there, are you really mentally prepared, and is that the key?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, I think experience plays a big role in dealing with conditions at an Open Championship. And I feel like I've got a lot of experience for having played three, this being my fourth, is that right? Maybe fifth. Fifth. Playing four, this is my fifth. Had a chance to win. I've been on good ends of the draw, bad ends of the draw. So I kind of understand, especially going into a day like tomorrow. Last year's Friday round was -- I remember talking in here about the sheets of rain. It was like a sideways water faucet out there. And I'm expecting something like that tomorrow. It can't be much worse than what we had in the second round last year or it would be unplayable.

And so I'm kind of prepared for the worst, having experienced it before. And understand that I can still make pars that way. You control the ball off the tee, keep your hands dry, and you grind from inside ten feet or you make a mid-ranger for par, something to keep the momentum going, that's important for tomorrow.

Being mentally prepared is key. I think I'm going into it, at least going into it the right way, and we'll see if I hold that together.

Q. So much has been made about the iron play this year. Was it a swing change you and Cameron made? What is behind the iron play?
JORDAN SPIETH: A little bit. Not a swing change, just -- I feel like I'm more physically fit than I have been, and it's allowing me to consistently get around my body better. And the mistakes that have come up in pressure situations or just a shot in general that my mind's off of what I'm trying to do, those are happening less. And once you start hitting those shots more consistently, you start even dialling it in more and more. And so my groupings on iron shots, if I'm with Cameron having a lesson, are tighter than they've been in past years, working different ball flights and trajectories. Out here that's what you need. You need to have confidence in each ball flight and trajectory, because you have to hit them all out here in a tournament like this.

So, yeah, it's just, I think, a little bit of being more physically fit that is helping me be more consistent in what we've always been trying to kind of work on, which is just staying patient and getting around my body.

Q. What did you have for breakfast before the gym?
JORDAN SPIETH: I just had eggs and avocado and toast, orange juice, shake.

Q. Your improved putting, you said all the way back at Pebble that it's all about speed control. And recently I know that's something that you've been impressed by with your own game. How long does it take for you to get comfortable with different speeds over here that are so different than what you'd see in the States?
JORDAN SPIETH: Normally it takes a couple of days of practise, for sure. Here and the States greens are slower on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday than they are on Thursday. You've got to keep the grass -- there's more traffic, keep the grass full. It's easier to cut them down than to try and grow them.

Over here it takes a little bit more of an adjustment. And my speed control was decent today. I ran -- but when I missed my putts, when I missed my speeds, I hit them past the hole, which is different from how I've normally done it over here. I'm hitting the ball solid and firmer. And then I see it go by the hole, I know what the putt does on the next, and I was able to knock in putts anywhere from three to six feet today. I had probably five or six of them that I knocked in coming back after hitting my first ones a bit too hard.

But I thought I also had a couple of drip in. My speed was really on today. I think it's more important in the States than it is over here. When you get faster greens, it's more important. You don't have to watch out here. You don't really have scary putts here. You have ones that you need to hit solid more than you have the scary ones.

Q. Given the forecast, will you watch some of the telecast in the morning or to scout the course?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. I think this week it's very beneficial when you get tee times from six something a.m. to four something p.m. You get an opportunity to wake up, see where pins are, see if there's a tendency on guys. I knew before I stepped on the tee today I knew that if I was behind the hole on No. 1, everybody was missing them out to the right, I'd probably read a little less break. You get to learn stuff like that.

You can also understand how good par is. And then obviously conditions change a bit. It's forecasted something like 50 percent until early afternoon and then it goes up to 70 or 80 percent. But I think everybody is going to have tough conditions tomorrow. And if it gets harder and harder, then I know how to adjust off of what we thought the morning wave was doing, as far as what we're thinking.

Q. Watching your brother trying to earn a pro contract and he's at the whims of like arbitrary needs or wants of GM's, is there in some way, do you think it's harder for him getting his start professionally than it was for you being in an individual sport, whatever, it's more black and white, the outcome?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, sure, I think so. I think it's definitely more difficult. Being an individual sport, you control your own outcome. That's what I loved about golf and I loved going out there and putting in the work and the ball is never going to somebody else. It was always in my hands. And therefore, I think Steven wishes the ball was in his hands as much as possible, but it's got to be passed around. And, therefore, credit can sometimes be given elsewhere, versus golf.

But both are extremely difficult to do to make it to the highest level in anything you do in life. It's difficult and lonely, even in a team sport. It's unchartered territory but for a few. And I think he's on a tremendous path. He had a great summer league. And I think he's very excited for what's coming in the future. And I'm excited for him.

Q. The second shot into 6 is such a hard shot. You really ripped one into the wind. Can you describe what your process is to line up that shot and what you're trying to think through before you hit it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, we had a similar wind with the driving range. The second shot faces the same way as the driving range, which is helpful, because I've never taken a TrackMan out on a tournament round before, and Cameron brought it out today to see how much the 55-degree weather was affecting my speeds versus 90 at home, which is what we were doing last week. And I was hitting it 10 to 15 yards shorter without any wind factored in. And then the wind was affecting it another 20 to 30 yards on the range, pretty much through the bag. Long irons it affects it a little bit less.

But because I knew how far balls were carrying from our session this morning, I was able to know how far that ball would carry and then I can trust that. And that's the most important thing. Because you feel like you're hitting so much club. You feel like you're going to fly the world. And then it goes on the front green and I'm 60 feet away. I mis-hit it, it was a good club to get close to the hole.

But I thought that was really well done by Cameron, because I didn't even ask him to, he just brought it out and said, "Let's figure this out, so you know at least when you're coming into the wind what true effect it's having." And it's more an effect than anywhere I've experienced in the States.

Q. What club?
JORDAN SPIETH: I hit a 4-iron in, I was 215. My 4-iron is 220, 225 club. It's a T-MB 4-irons, and it was only flying 190 earlier today. And that's 35 yards off of 90 degrees in Dallas, and that's a lot. And it flew about 192 to get to the front of the green. I figured I could rope it a little and get some more out of it. And I just kind of hit a stock shot.

Q. Can you tell us what you've been doing to get physically fitter, please, any specialist exercises, more of anything or even less of anything?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I've been eating better. I've just been more focused on what I'm putting in my body. And then I've just been a little more adamant about when I'm at the gym. This is as important as anything else that I'm doing, not to bulk up, but just to make sure I'm strengthening what needs to be strengthened, and I'm mobilizing what needs to be mobile. And it's very important in golf for elongating a career, and there's enough backing now, and I'm fortunate to be playing at the age I am, at the time that I'm playing, to where there's been a lot of trial and error on either side, and there's a middle ground there that these trainers are, including mine, is finding out what to do to make sure you're strong, but more importantly you can maintain and prevent injury.

But a lot of it's just been -- just getting there more, and making sure even if you're tired, this is important to put in the work.

Q. Obviously you're still eating mint gum, have any of your treats -- have you cut out any of your favourite treats?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I haven't cut out anything. I'll still go have a burger and a beer, but I think as a whole when I'm home I'm just trying to be -- just trying to learn a little bit more about what's best for me to be at my best. And it matters, I think, what you put in your body and then how you take care of it, and then how that translates into results that I've seen in my swing on the course this year.

And so I gain confidence from that and understand that it is having the impact that I want it to have. And so keep with it, because I enjoy hitting the ball better, it makes me happier.

Q. Could you please explain what happened on 13.
JORDAN SPIETH: 13, I hit it over -- I lined up down the fescue because that's the place to hit it with the driver there. And I missed my line about 5 or 10 yards to the right. The ball was sitting okay. It's okay over there downwind, especially to the back pin. Everyone was back, and didn't think much of it. And I'm not sure who it was that walked over there, but he was walking right towards it and I tried to -- I saw him not noticing the ball, he accidentally stepped on it. It's happened a few times to me. It happens.

It was kind of sitting, you know, in the fescue, so it's tough to see coming from his angle. But I just took a drop and it ended up being a similar lie. And I was able to get a 9-iron on it downwind back of the green.

Q. I know it's just a vacation, but when you were with that group of great athletes in Cabo, did you learn anything about competing? When you're in that room do you realise, wow, I belong with these guys?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know, two of them are the greatest all time at what they've done, so I don't think so, to that extent. But, sure, it was mostly fun. That picture came from the Fourth of July dinner that we had. I was down there with a group of my high school friends. And then they started to kind of leave, and I stayed with Andy there and we ended up meeting up. Yeah, did a bit of talking about goals.

Michael Phelps has actually been a tremendous new friend that I've had since really Phoenix this last year, and he invited myself and Michael over to their house. And we talked for quite a while. I think pretty late into the evening before one of the rounds just because we just enjoyed talking about -- I enjoyed listening to him. He wanted to hear from my side of the things, just about the good, the bad, everything that comes with what we do. And so I spent more time with him than the rest of the crew there while we were down there. And he's become a good friend and somebody who I could call at any time, and he's offered that. I think that's -- certainly I'd be doing myself a disservice if I don't keep taking him up on it.

But, yeah, I looked around the room there and, wow, this is cool. This is cool, these guys, they include me and ask about what I'm doing, and these are guys I've looked up to my entire life. And it kind of gives you a nice boost of confidence, if I needed an even bigger head.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Thank you for joining us.

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