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March 7, 2018

Jordan Spieth

Palm Harbor, Florida

MARK WILLIAMS: We'd like that welcome Jordan Spieth to the interview room at the Valspar Championship. Thanks, Jordan, for coming back. Happy hunting ground for you, obviously the winner here in 2015.

Just if you can just touch on the significance of the 2013 when you finished tied for 7th and earned temporary special membership. Seems so long ago it was your position on the PGA TOUR.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I was playing the back-9 yesterday and got to No. 17 and not only was that the spot, 13 I holed a chip that got me inside the line to get my card, 15 was where I got up and down on the 71st hole and the second playoff hole a birdie putt.

I said to Michael this hole has got as much good history as any in the world for us. It's cool to kind of recognize and fall back on those kind of moments and yeah, I remember, I have vivid memories of walking up, how nervous I felt on that 17th and 18th holes in 2013 and I had a shot from the middle of the fairway that I just played the wrong number and left it in the bunker on 18 where I had, I think, a wedge from the fairway which is tough. Made a 5, 6-footer, I think, to get my card and I remember walking over and I just like all those nerves just went away and I like the biggest smile on my face walking over to Michael, "Man, four weeks ago we were trying to work our butt off to get temporary Web.com status, now we've got a job on the PGA TOUR."

It's amazing.

Q. Just set your season, you've had 6 events, missed the cut once, top 20 in the other five and couple Top-10s. Give some assessment of what you feel.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's progressing. Actually really like where I'm at right at this second in regards to approaching Augusta. It's just been kind of simple things, alignment stuff that typically had been done in the off-season but I was pretty sick and then therefore I had to kind of learn on the go during the season to start and I just been trying to get comfortable with the short game, kind of just in my stance, just seeing my lines and when you can't really see your lines it's difficult to commit.

Ball-striking is all there to win golf tournaments. Just a matter of seeing a couple putts go in and getting comfortable early in a tournament and gaining that confidence.

The first rounds set me back this year but talked with Michael yesterday. We're in a very similar position to 2015 at this very moment. So, tremendous year going to take place from here on out. I really consider the Masters the start of the season with anything leading into it as a preparation for the Masters.

This tournament bringing really good vibes being here can do a lot for me going forward for the rest of the season.

Q. As a member of the pack or the Chairman of the pack, what will be the start of the season next year when The Players moves to March?
JORDAN SPIETH: It will start probably around The Players. That's my guess. As far as the biggest tournaments, that's set the legacy for players, The Players is certainly in there.

Q. It's been a very, very long time since three golfers at one time all had an opportunity in the same year to have a Career Slam.
Have you ever talked with Rory or Phil about that? Do you have any kind friendly competition over which one of you might be able to break that?

JORDAN SPIETH: I think Rory has the best opportunity, given the first Major this year. No, I don't think -- I haven't really talked about that with any of them.

I think the only thing I can think of going back would have been at the PGA when I joked about bringing the U.S. Open Trophy into a Tuesday round at Whistling Straits with Phil. At the time I still had two more legs. No, I don't think so.

I mean at this point with the way that Phil is playing and obviously the fire power that myself and Rory have, I think it's just kind of a crap shoot on who can get it. Obviously it's going to be hardest for me from right now given they have an opportunity before I do.

Q. Tiger being here seemed to change the atmosphere of everybody around here. What's it been like having Tiger here this year?
JORDAN SPIETH: The only -- yeah, it changes, certainly he adds an element to any tournament that he enters and saw it yesterday in the practice round how many people were out there starting to follow those guys.

I think he was with Davis, Jim and Strick out to play in the holes and I saw the wave of people walking down 1. So, it will certainly -- it will be fun.

I think I played with him in PGA TOUR rounds a half dozen to ten times, something like that and then, you know, quite a few times in the practice rounds and whatnot.

If you told me five, six years ago I'd have this opportunity I certainly would pounce on it to be able to play with the greatest player in the game and on the rebound and obviously playing some great golf.

It's an exciting time for the sport and exciting group to be in this week for sure.

Q. You just mentioned Phil. How impressed are you with what he did?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's been kind of understated. When Jack won the Masters at 46, that was absurd right back in the day. I wasn't born for another few years (laughter). But from what I hear from other players and even you guys, that was completely out of the in order and absurd someone doing and Phil is how old, is Phil, 47?

Q. 7.
JORDAN SPIETH: He looks 46, not 47, you know, and it's almost like oh, okay, yeah, he said it was coming. So, you know, he obviously predicted and it's there.

Pretty incredible for a guy who has put family first and certainly backed off the amount of time he's played and definitely the amount of work on the course with everything that he has off the golf course to be able to come out and compete at that level consistently this year. I think that speaks to as much as his win.

But you know, World Golf Championship is a massive event. He's essentially locked himself into another Ryder Cup team. Pretty awesome to think about having him and the potential of Tiger playing on that team, too. It makes you want to get on it even more.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Look at Tiger. He's won at certain places. The schedule that he started to choose as he got into it in the 30s and his prime and playing less but at specific events. You know, for me, still at this age I want to test out, see which courses are the best for me. This is certainly one of them that the golf course it seems to fit my game whether I come in playing great or come in looking for something, seem to have found results here and that just -- some golf courses treat you better than others.

Q. Last time you were here with Tiger on Thursday, Friday was much different. I imagine hard to watch.
What do you remember from those around and what is it like watching that versus now you're playing with him and got a chance to win or?

JORDAN SPIETH: It was difficult then because you knew he was, first of all, trying to come back while in some pain and in his process of rehab while playing the tournament. But, obviously it's Tiger, all eyes on Tiger.

Looking back it's difficult, it was a difficult thing to watch because you just man, if he would just be given some time and not be, you know, bugged there every single shot every round. He's going to need some reps on the course.

The same thing is going on right now, it's not like he's had a lot of tournament experience. He's played what this year, three, four times? So, that's not a lot of golf in the last four years. But, he seems to be more prepared, healthier and ready to go and patient, by what I can tell, which what you see on TV now to where this process, seeing Phil win I think was really cool for Tiger to recognize, okay, I've got all this time to be able to still get to that high level.

I haven't talked to him about that but I imagine that's got to be pretty interesting for him to see and it helps put things in perspective in how much time he still really does have for the top level and knowing his self human nature that he's displayed over the last 20 years, it still wouldn't be surprising if comes Masters time he's in the hunt on Sunday. That's pretty amazing to say.

Q. Jordan, players of this generation, they all most everyone (inaudible). Why do you think more people want to be like Phil?
JORDAN SPIETH: There's a lots of people want to be like Phil. Growing up it was some what of a rivalry. I certainly admired both players for, you know, similar and different reasons, I guess. You know?

Q. Why?
JORDAN SPIETH: They were different personalities. I say because there's a lot of similarities now without -- Tiger is a family man and he's been more open with everybody compared to what I heard, he was like before which was head down, and this time I'm here to do my best. He's got his friends out here, he recognizes I guess where he's at in the process that's coming forward for him.

Back in the day, you know, shoot, I looked up to those two. I had a group of players. That's kind of cool thing in golf versus team sports, is instead of having kind of your one team and beat every other team, in golf you can have your kind of group, the players that you like watching different parts of and you want to emulate different parts of their games. Obviously the forefront of that was Tiger given his dominance and it's always intriguing.

Q. Is there anyway you see Phil has changed now more than Tiger?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think Phil has changed at all. He's pretty much the same. Again, I'm just speaking to what I hear. I don't have any personal experience in Tiger before 2013 where, you know, he was the same kind of player/kind of wanting to help out assistant Captain on Presidents Cup team. That was my first action with him.

It was cool kind of the opening up he did. You just don't know. Growing up I thought Jim Furyk, based on what I see on the golf course, I thought he was a totally different person than he is in real life. One of the kindest, most open, smart human beings I've ever met. So it's hard to take what you see on TV sometimes.

Q. Jordan, you talked about being in a similar spot where you three years ago in 2015. What are some of the differences specifically with your game to where you were three years ago?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I'm a better iron player now than I was three years ago in this chair. I think, you know, I have a bit more confidence at the time on the greens that I'm just trying to get back to that level.

You go through peaks and troughs through every parts of the your game. I believe I hit a trough and I'm back rising towards a peak when it comes to on the greens. I got to maintain everything else and I believe I'll be a better player if that's the case.

But, I also have the advantage of lot more experience both good and bad that I would say could potentially make me a better player than I was three years ago with one win trying to win the Valspar.

It's only advantageous the more chances you have to win Majors, whether they go your way or not and win tournaments in general. So, I like being in this seat versus that seat now.

Q. I can't imagine from the time you turned pro that you would have had much interaction at all with Tiger until Muirfield Village for the Presidents Cup.
You made a hole in one, didn't you?


Q. What was the moment like, not the ace, some of a big figure in the game and being a teammate going through that process with a 15 year old or whatever you were, 19?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I remember I played with Strick and Tiger and Kuch I think in a match in one of those practice rounds. Teed off on 7. Got a cart out to No. 7, par 5.

I stood on that tee. We were trying to get off quickly in front of the groups and I remember being unbelievably nervous on that shot and for the most of the shots I hit in the round. Even though it's practice round he was my teammate.

I thought I had been paired with him maybe before that. Might have been the 1st Round I ever played with him. But I remember they let me play like modified alternate shot practice and they went eagle, birdie, birdie or something to start. Man, this must have been what it's been like for the last 20 years for guys.

It was cool, though. He's always open, willing to offer any kind of advice. He's fun to just talk to about anything. I remember that day being out there with two Kuch and Strick and then with Tiger and it was just kind of like a -- I played with Kuch and Strick and the guys are incredible to play with and Tiger is a different element that no one else has.

I'll feel probably more nervous on the first tee tomorrow than I do on the first tee normally just given the setting.

Q. Has any other golfing experience made you nervous like that the first time you were with somebody? Bush?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I don't think so. No, because anybody else outside of golf -- you're still doing what you know you're better at then them. Then when you're on the tee with someone like Tiger who you have just grown up, dominating the sport, watching him dominate the sport, it's something that you just kind of get used to, I guess and am I totally used to it? No.

I mean haven't seen a whole lot of him the last few years since he's been hurt and trying to come back but we all hope for that Sunday afternoon pairing along side all us young guys, we want that chance to be able to battle it out with him on Sunday. I know he wants that, too, to kind of show us what he's done to other people and want to be the person to take him over even if it's not 2000 Tiger, it's still Tiger on a Sunday and that's something that would be an experience that we haven't had before.

Q. Who else was in the group of guys you talked about rooting for and what you like about their games, maybe the most surprising game when were you young?
JORDAN SPIETH: Growing up?

Q. Yes.
JORDAN SPIETH: I loved watching Adam Scott swing the golf club. He was one of my favorite players. Maybe from the time I was of -- I was first starting to play everyday, Geoff Ogilvey won a few times. Kind of liked how simple his swing was.

He was making a lot of putts. He won in Hawaii one year when I watched the tournament in a pro shop.

Just different things, different times from players, watching Tiger over -- hit a chip shot on DiMarco on 16 of Augusta. It's one of the greatest sports things I've ever seen in my life.

Just different -- yeah, I just remember different -- Phil's putt to win. That's when I was starting to love the game, made the putt on 18 to win Augusta.

Q. "Dillon's" putt?
JORDAN SPIETH: Riviera? That was cool, too. What I was speaking to earlier when I was 12, 13, 14 years old, 2005, '7 time period where I really golf became good for me.

Q. While you were watching golf, I mean Tiger and Phil when they go to Augusta they would be the two guys that everybody kind of had their eye on for the last 15 years and the last four years you've established yourself as that guy everybody has kind of been looking at.
When you go there, do you -- this year do you think of yourself as sort of that target guy or now do you see Tiger and Phil back in the mix?

JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's kind of gone back to Tiger and Phil.

Q. Do you like in that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. Hundred percent, yeah. It's a place I'm certainly familiar and comfortable at and it's my favorite tournament in the world but it's got an extra added element this year, certainly the spotlight on this, too.

Those two, I don't know what odds have them at but they got to both be in the Top-5, 6 favorites to win which is -- I like to know the last time that was the case, which is not too long ago.

Q. Maybe '13?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. '10, '13, somewhere in there. I think -- people will be pretty interested in what they're doing.

Q. When you look at Tiger's physical problems the last few years, is there anything that you can take away from that given his swing, his off course workout?
Is there a lesson for the rest of you to learn?

JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think any of us are extremely familiar with why the injuries happen. I don't know his training regimen. I don't know how many balls he hits or that.

It's more of just where he had access to so much technology now, to be able to figure out how to best prepare your own body for 20 years of wear and tear on the golf course.

The golf swing is about as unnatural as anything you can do for your body and it creates a lot of injuries and you need -- if you -- if you have a broken finger you can't play, you have a broken toe -- soccer play can have a broken wrist and use a cast and play.

Golf you got to be obviously fully healthy with just about everything in order to be playing at a high level. I think it's more of doing your own research into yourself more than looking at anybody else because we don't -- I don't have any idea what his workouts did, if workouts cause anything or whatever it was. I'm not sure. Lot of people with a lot of injuries and you just try to stay on top of yourself.

Q. What do you consider your favorite Major championship victory that wasn't your own and why?
JORDAN SPIETH: Favor favorite championship victory. It goes back to when Tiger holed that chip on 16 and ended up going to a playoff with Chris DiMarco, that Masters win because of that shot was -- you see shots then you want to go, when you're a kid you want to go out right away and try some kind of similar shot wherever you can find it that you saw someone hit.

I remember the first time I played Augusta, it was the first thing I was interested in was going behind 16, putting the tee down wherever that pin was and hitting that shot, seeing how difficult that was in person.

Q. How did you do?
JORDAN SPIETH: The pin wasn't there. I hit two, three shots there after playing the hole. But I ended up having a somewhat similar shot in 2015 that I had to get up and down to save par and maintain a lead with a couple holes to go, which is kind of cool.

I didn't hit the shot anywhere good as him. I had to make four, five footer. He was against the collar of the rough, too. That was the coolest shot I ever witnessed and probably will ever witness.

Q. Do you think anybody ever went to 18 on a practice round and tried to hit a flop shot to that pin?
JORDAN SPIETH: Maybe. The Chairman did it, he told me he tried it. Said he didn't pull it off. Yeah. He tried it but no, that's not even on the same world as that other shot.

Q. Jordan, the 16th hole here start of the Snake Pit, I wonder how you approach that hole, do you do anything in practice rounds to prepare a different strategy to play that or do you have a pretty much set plan?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have a set plan. I tried driver and 3-wood. We're going to get two different winds this week. It's going to be a different hole altogether and different shots are needed to be played on every hole, including 16.

So, I think we're going to be getting it off the left pretty hard tomorrow and Friday and then it's going to kind of flip back and be where it normally is on Saturday and Sunday.

I think 3-wood is the play for me there. Yesterday wasn't blowing very hard off the right, I hit 3-wood, 6-iron. It's a long hood but my 3-wood doesn't get into too much trouble going left. I don't think I can get -- I don't think I gain that much of an advantage with the driver. That's my plan, to hit 3-wood and middle iron.

MARK WILLIAMS: Jordan, as always, we appreciate your time and good luck.

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