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April 3, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's always a pleasure to welcome back our 2015 Masters champion, Jordan Spieth. Jordan, this will be your fifth appearance at Augusta National, with strong finishes in all of your previous showings. You've talked before about how this course fits your eye. Can you give us a little color on why that is.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think this game brings out the feel aspect of my game, which is the better side of me on the golf course. It's not a technical driving range golf course, you have a lot of uneven lies and very slopey greens, and so you have to play a lot off of feel and what that lie gives you.
I think that that's helped me kind of settle in and not overthink things out here and get into a nice groove, and it's led to some success at this event. So it is my favorite tournament in the world. I've certainly made that pretty clear going back the last five years.
So excited for this week. Game feels good, and the golf course is looking to be already pretty firm and fast. We'll see how it holds with the weather that's coming in.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll open it up to questions.
Q. I know you haven't played as well as you wanted to all year, but you really found your game last week against Houston, in Houston Open. Do you feel fully confident as you have been in the past coming here this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: I do. I feel better coming into this week than I did in 2016 and 2014 where I came off of missed cuts in Houston. There's a lot to be said off of the previous week, the previous week's momentum. And being able to work my way last week into contention and hit some putts under pressure that I felt ‑‑ I didn't do a lot of scoreboard watching. I kind of pretended like I was tied for lead even though I figured I was a stroke or two back. I kind of wanted that "you need to make this" feeling. And started to really roll some putts in under the gun, and the putter started to look ‑‑ I've been matching up the setup with it, and my iron play and off the tee has been fantastic, just like it was last year. It's just been about just finding the setup that I had for a couple years that I kind of got a little stiff and away from recently. So settling into that from round one will be important, but I feel like last week was a tremendous stepping stone in the right direction.
Q. Whether it was a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, team room, when did you first notice Tiger and Phil starting to kind of let bygones be bygones, become friends, and did today's pairing or can today's practice round pairing between Tiger and Phil galvanize you younger players to feel like more team unity, team chemistry that those two guys can, like I said, let bygones be bygones and come together?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure what bygones even they ever even had. I think that was more blown up than there ever really was between the two of them. You I think they both just kind of had differences. They were also‑‑ what are they? They're five or six years apart in age. If you're outside of four years apart, then you didn't run into each other in junior and college golf.
So that doesn't necessarily answer your question, but I just‑‑ I mean, it would have been, from my rookie season when I ‑‑ so I never really saw any other side of it. They have always been great together. When they both get into story telling mode in like a team room, it's really incredible. The room silences and everyone's ears perk and you start to listen in to different stories about either when they played together on a team event or when they were playing against each other or whether it was a story not even about the other one.
They just‑‑ they both have done‑‑ they both have done so much for us, meaning the younger generation, in our‑‑ their influence in the game and our wanting to be like them when we grew up. And it's really cool to have the opportunity to see them want to give advice back and be very influential in team rooms.
Q. So in regards to you younger whippersnappers against the old guys, we're hearing this possibly being the most anticipated Masters ever. How do you see that from your standpoint, and would you feel that from the inside looking at this?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think it probably is. I think the addition of Tiger being healthy and playing well, no matter what else happened, was probably going to make it as anticipated as any going back five, six, seven years. So that in its own. But then Phil winning recently, Rory winning recently, Bubba winning recently, Justin playing well, D.J. playing well, I mean, yeah, there's just a lot of guys playing really good golf that create story lines in general. And then when you put it at kind of the biggest stage in our sport, I think that creates that anticipation. But for me personally, I mean, it's just‑‑ it doesn't feel any different to me.
Q. Was your desire to win the Masters greater before you won it or after?
JORDAN SPIETH: Good question. Potentially now after I saw what it actually‑‑ to the extent of what it actually does for you, as an individual, I think I was a little bit kind of naive to it, which may have been a good thing, when I started out. I think after 2014, though, I realized kind of what it actually meant and exactly‑‑ an American to win the Masters is just like a‑‑ it's a really special thing for whether it's sponsorships going forward, your recognition. This is essentially our Super Bowl, and after 2014 I kind of saw that and had built that kind of almost‑‑ that anger, that desire to win it then.
So there was certainly a lot of it there, but after winning it and then experiencing kind of the whirlwind right after and what it led to the rest of the season, the way it kind of free‑rolled, it felt like I was free‑rolling for every single tournament I played in, because I had won the Masters. I mean, I don't care if I miss the cut in every event for the rest of my life now, I won the Masters. That was my lifelong goal. I said it in an interview that's been published when I was 14 years old: I want to win the Masters someday. But now it's like, man, I got a lot of Masters to play in, it's kind of cool to have multiple Green Jackets. So it would be nice to do it again. So maybe a little bit of both. Probably about even.
Q. You got one, what's it matter if you have two?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think if have you a second and you somehow walk away with one, it's not as noticeable if you accidentally take it. I think that's kind of where‑‑ you can kind of have it at home. I think some of the older guys maybe ‑‑ sorry, I don't think I can say that.
Q. A lot of speculation about the 13th hole, whether it's going to be lengthened. Are you hoping it remains the way it is? And if it is lengthened, how would that influence you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would hope it would be lengthened. Personally. To take away certain players being able to cut off a lot of the hole and require pretty much everyone to hit it around the same line. That's advantageous to me because I don't fly it 310 yards up in the air with the right‑to‑left turn like Bubba does, Rory does, some of the guys can do. So that hole would be better for me if it were lengthened, I think.
But the way it is, if you hit a great drive you have an opportunity to reach in two, and just like any other hole, when a guy hits it further than you, if you're two clubs behind, you got to make up for that.
Q. Do you think 30 yards longer, you can still reach?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I hit 3‑wood, I'll probably hit 3‑wood all four days this year. So it will just force you to hit driver into a location where you would hit 3‑wood. Same with the hole‑‑ if No. 5 was changed. It's forcing you to hit driver in the same place that guys are thing 3‑woods. So it just makes a little bit harder.
Q. In the spirit of competition, who is the better storyteller in the team room, and do you have a favorite story that they told over the years that you got to listen to?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think that everybody would agree that Phil's stories are unique and they're fantastic. I mean, he just has so many great ones. As far as a favorite, I don't necessarily have a favorite off the top of my head. But just try and soak it all in. Tonight we actually get some of the best stories that you'll ever hear in a team room‑‑ I say team room. In a room like tonight, in a Masters Club room. That's really special.
Q. Most of the players that come in here echo you, they say that this is the biggest tournament for them. Maybe a couple generations ago they would have said the U.S. Open. What is it about this that makes this the tournament for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not exactly sure. Maybe it's the crowds, maybe it's the beauty of the golf course, the Augusta National Golf Club in general. Everything about it off the golf course that's just so spectacular. Obviously the history and the shots that have been hit, because it is the same golf course. So you just have so much of it. Maybe a combination of all of it.
The other Majors and other golf tournaments certainly have similar history, and The Open Championship has even more history than any other tournament. But to be played at the same place, to have‑‑ to play 16 and see Tiger's chip putt in, to see Phil's holing bunker shots on 15 for eagle, all the putts guys have made on 18 to that Sunday pin, it's just ‑‑ and the amphitheater setup as you come up 18, it's just like, it's a walk that I'll certainly never forget.
So personally it's a no‑brainer for me to say so. But I don't know why necessarily other people would feel that way.
Q. How does it feel to put on a Green Jacket once a year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I didn't‑‑ I don't really wear nice clothes very often. I'm pretty sure I didn't put it on right. Like I think I kind of like twisted instead of just put the arm in the sleeve. But I promise, if I get another opportunity, I'll do it correctly next time.
I mean, it's, you're not really thinking. It's kind of‑‑ you want to kind of stop time, but you got to go here, then you got to go here, and then you got to go here, and then it's once you leave property where it really hits you. I mean, when you stand on the green it's one thing, but you're kind of thinking about what all you want to say and how you want to thank everybody that made it possible. So it's not until really I left property that I truly kind of felt what it was like to wear the jacket, and wear the jacket I did for a year. It didn't leave my side.
Q. One more Phil/Tiger question, if you don't mind. Who has the sharper needle?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not‑‑ right now I'm not sure.
Q. Is it even close in terms of the teasing and the grief giving, I mean?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's pretty, it's pretty even. I mean, they‑‑ you know? I mean, they ‑‑ Tiger has more accolades than just about anybody in the sport, but, I mean, nobody wants to go out there and just say‑‑ you know, just go say I've won this or this or this or this, and Phil's kind of better at getting under people's skin. So it's pretty evenly matched, I guess.
I mean, it's all in‑‑ everything they do is in good fun, and it's not just to each other, it's to everybody. It's just the way that the team room is. And nobody really dares to go at either one of them because we know that they have got beef on us, accolades that we can only dream of accomplishing, so...
Q. I know you didn't win the Masters in your rookie year, but you came pretty close and then won as a very young player. Specifically I'm asking in relationship to the player who has come from my country, Shubhankar Sharma. What do you think of him and what do you think he needs to do, playing in his rookie year, to really perform well or, well, even go ahead and win the Tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think, honestly, do exactly what he's been doing. He's been playing great golf. It doesn't‑‑ there's no necessarily real secret out here. It's you kind of want to figure out the angles, you want to figure out where the misses are, because you can obviously get into some big trouble around the greens if you're in the wrong location. So it's a lot of homework, and then just comitting to that. You don't have to try and birdie every hole. There's‑‑ even when you have a wedge in your hand here a lot of times, it's‑‑ holes like 15, if I had any discipline last year, I would have had a lead going into Sunday, and instead I made a nine on 15 trying to go at a pin with a wedge on a par‑5. Imagine that. We go at pins with wedges every single time we get them in our hands. But a couple holes a year you got to maybe back off.
So just learning the golf course a little bit, picking your spots, letting it come to him. But he's playing well, and therefore, if he does that first part, he should find himself in contention.
Q. Two questions. Does your golf calendar start with this tournament? And, secondly, there are players who fear these greens. You seem to embrace it. I was curious why.
JORDAN SPIETH: I would say this year I'm certainly hoping that I'm approaching this as this is the beginning of the year, it's not been the greatest start to the year of any that I've had. But I kind of look at it almost in like thirds. You kind of get the half a dozen to ten events, you get kind of before the Masters, and then you get the Masters through kind of that U.S. Open stretch is the next third, and then you get the last two Majors and the playoffs, the FedExCup is kind of like the last third. So this maybe starts kind of the second‑‑ kind of end of the first, beginning of the second, third of the season.
As far as the greens, you just have to have a lot of feel. Like when I see these greens, my first thought isn't where does this putt go; my first thought is what's the speed that's needed on this putt. A lot of times ‑‑ well, there's just only either this place or maybe a very small handful of others in the world that make you think that way. For whatever reason, that's been beneficial to me when I focus just on what speed does this need to get in.
So I find myself not worrying about the line and therefore not worrying about the mechanics but instead making sure that you're leaving your next putt where it needs to be, and if the putt goes in, great, and if it doesn't, you walk to the next hole and wait for your opportunities.
Q. Given that you talked about how this course inspires your creativity, and your caddie's gotten advice from Carl Jackson over the years, is the homework, as you put it, or the preparation more enjoyable here or more difficult given the variables?
JORDAN SPIETH: More enjoyable for sure. At this point we have got‑‑ we have done it so often that it's just kind of remembering stuff or it's just checking our fall lines that we have in our books from the reads. Michael's done a fantastic job of knowing where those are, where the creek is, on each green, and you could ask me to a certain pin on any green right now and your ball's located here and I can probably tell you what the putt's going to do. So that's really fun for us.
Q. You alluded to obviously your season not exactly what you wanted to be so far. Did you have any panic or concern about your game during that period of time? And if not, when was the last time you actually did have some panic or concern about your game?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I did. That would have been the last time. It was almost just a little bit of impatience, a little bit of desire and wanting it to be back so quickly.
But in reality now I just‑‑ my off season was essentially the start of the year. I spent most of December in bed, very sick, and so I got and started to try to go through off season stuff, your basic stuff, your alignment and your check boxes at the beginning of the year while traveling Hawaii and then‑‑ and I was only home for 10 days the first two months of the year, trying to ‑‑ and trying to play through it. So I was getting frustrated, but when I would sit back and look at it, it made sense. It was just, okay, all these other guys are playing so well and I'm paired with them, and for whatever reason I'm just not able to do what they're able to do right now. It was just kind of impatience and this desire and want so bad instead of just staying the course. I mean, I'm hopefully going to be out here 20‑plus years, you're going to go through certain different‑‑ whether it's an injury or you got sick or whatever it may be, recognizing that that's one of those times and just let it happen.
I mean, if I don't play well this week, well, I didn't exactly have the lead into it that I was looking for every single year going back to my rookie season coming into here. And that's okay with me. It's okay. I feel good about my game, I feel confident, I feel like I should have a chance to win this week. But if I don't, it's coming soon. And that's exciting for me.
I made big strides in the last two weeks to get from kind of a panic place to a very calm, collected and confident place. And it's difficult to do in two weeks. Sometimes it takes years. And I feel like I've been able to speed that process up a lot over the last couple weeks.
Q. You obviously defied the common logic here that you can't win or contend early at the Masters, that you need all these Masters under your belt. You were obviously aware of that history. Did you just dismiss it, or did you‑‑ did you use it to say, hey, I got a lot of catching up to do and I'm not going to let that get in my way, I'm just going to learn it as best I can as quickly as I can?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I just kind of looked at the other side of it, where there actually have been guys that have played very well from the get‑go. I mean, Tiger won in his, what, second Masters or‑‑ I mean, he played as an amateur, but as a professional was it his second or his first?
JORDAN SPIETH: First. So also you're playing 72 holes on a golf course, like why is one golf course going to keep you, if you're playing the best, from being able to win. It's not. I mean, there's no‑‑ the ball goes into the hole no matter who is hitting it. It doesn't know who is hitting it. So that's never been something that‑‑ if anything, it's enticed me more. It's never been something that's been a bother or anything that could prevent me from success, whether it's being one of the youngest to win a PGA TOUR event or get a PGA TOUR card or it's in the Masters.
There's plenty of rookies this year that have an opportunity and can very well win this golf tournament. And course knowledge is important out here, I think. It can help. But if you're playing really well, then you're playing really well.
Q. I realize almost every TOUR player studies their swing on video. Curious how much you study your‑‑ study video of your tournaments in terms of body language or things that you do that you like or don't like and what can be gleaned from watching yourself compete?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think there's‑‑ I think that depending upon how you're looking at it, it could be good or bad for you ‑‑ for me. I've been on both sides of it. I looked at it and been annoyed at how I handled a situation or annoyed at the swing I made or whatever it was. And I looked at it and taken confidence out of it, for sure.
I mean, Cameron's done a good job over the years of putting together, compiling putting videos. He's done a ball striking video, different ones that at times where I'm feeling a little like, man, the ball won't go in the hole or, man, I just I don't feel that good over it with an iron.
I can go back to that and watch a 10‑minute long video of in big moments coming through and hitting the clutch shots. So I'm trying to stick more to that and less to doing my own work on it because the way he's done it is make it look extremely positive versus how to make things perfect, which is the way I look at it. And you swing your own swing. I know what mine needs to feel like to be striking it.
Last week I think I was first in tee to green. I was better than everybody else tee to green last week, and there's probably someone with a prettier esthetic golf swing out there, but it doesn't matter, it's whoever ‑‑ and so I look at it sometimes, but more as checkpoints than anything else.
Q. Follow‑up, do you ever notice your body language, like sometimes you feel like your body language is kind counterproductive, and do you ever pick up anything like that or positive for that matter?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, sure, I'm not a big fan of and I don't really recognize how often I'm yelling at the golf ball. I'm not ‑‑ actually it annoys me to watch myself do that personally. But it's‑‑ I guess it's something I've probably always done, and so I don't know if it will stop. I just happened to be mic'd up, and I wasn't mic'd up in junior and amateur golf.
So something like that, you know, it's just‑‑ I guess to my DNA, but I'm not necessarily a big fan of it. But I can tell sometimes where I look anxious and I can tell when I look relaxed and I can tell kind of how my shoulders are when I'm walking. I don't see a ton of it, but here and there, when I feel anxious and I'm kind of eating dinner and I see it's on TV and I'll kind of make a note of it. But it's rare.
Q. That said, looking at videos that Cameron prepares for you, do you ever slip in a tape of the 2015 Masters just for inspiration, motivation?
JORDAN SPIETH: Oh, yeah, there's plenty of shots and putts from there. That was‑‑ that's probably the‑‑ where the majority of them‑‑
Q. But the whole Sunday round or anything like that?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think Michael has said he's gone back and YouTubed it and looked at it. I get enough of the highlights from those videos of the 2015 Masters, for every day. There's a little bit of every day sprinkled in with a lot of other tournaments. But it will be something that I'll love to watch tape of all three of my Majors looking back some day. I think I can take a lot of pride in that, I think, but right now these bits and pieces that are pieced together with these others so I can get as many looks as possible ‑‑ and what I see from these is the tempo of the swing, the tempo of the stroke, the stance of the stroke, they're not all the same.
So it doesn't all have to be matching exactly what it was at this moment in time. I mean, my stroke, one of the best putting tournaments I ever had was the 2015 TOUR Championship at East Lake. My stroke that year on a SAM PuttLab compared to my stroke at the 2015 Masters, I got them compared right after, both weeks, and they were very different putting strokes, and they were both tremendous putting weeks.
And that just proves to me that it doesn't really matter. It's about the consistency and how confident I am in the setup and on the speed matching up. So when I can see that they are different but similar results, it's a confidence boost for me.
Q. I was just curious a few weeks ago when you were close to panic, was it a particular shot, or was it all‑encompassing like it is with us?
JORDAN SPIETH: It was like‑‑ yeah, it was just I don't shoot 5‑over very often, I only shoot 5‑over and you're like what the heck happened. And then when you get a few tournaments in a row where it's just‑‑ for me it was just ‑‑ it was just what exactly am I doing where I can't‑‑ my putter‑‑ when I set my putter down and I look up, they're not looking at the same place. And it just went‑‑ sometimes I get that for a day, sometimes it's a couple weeks, and I was getting it for a couple months.
And that was kind of‑‑ it was like what the in the world is going on. So it was how to do we get back to kind of the posture, where in the posture am I set that looks a little bit different, and how do we get back. And I just did a lot of work last week, I mean, a lot of work from when I‑‑ when I lost to Patrick on that Friday until I teed off on Thursday there was some‑‑ there was a lot of pictures, comparisons, there was stroke comparisons, there was‑‑ and it's getting there. I'm not here to say that it's there, because it's not there yet. But it doesn't mean that it can't, I can't lead in strokes gained putting this week as I mentioned, it can look different to me and still be great. But I'm closer.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan, and good luck this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you.
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