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May 15, 2018
JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room. He's an AT&t athlete and brand ambassador. He's making his 8th start at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Jordan, I don't have to remind you you had your best start here as a 16 year old, 2010. Just comment on what this tournament means to you and your thoughts for the week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. This tournament is one that I would love to win some day. At this point that's kind of what I'm focused on here. It's been, you know, a tournament I've had some of the best memories I've ever had, whether going to or playing in.
Obviously a change of pace now this year over here at Trinity Forest and everything looks great. I've been out here quite a bit over the last -- well, I was here the day they sprigged the greens so since then, I've been out here a lot. So, pretty cool.
Certainly an advantage having a bit of course knowledge but we don't exactly play PGA TOUR pins on a daily basis. It will be a little bit different. Looks in great shape. The greens have come a long way in the last few weeks.
Weather has been cooperative. It's going to be -- ahead of time there was lot of scepticism from players and caddies from last year regarding this place and it's been overwhelmingly positive over the last couple of days since people have gotten here and I've seen the same thing over last year. That's really cool.
JOHN BUSH: You enter the week No. 30 in the FedExCup Standings. Jason recently got his 12th PGA TOUR victory and I know that number is now important to you, an 11 time winner on Tour.
Comment a little bit about your season at this point and your game going forward.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. You know, I feel as good about my game right now as I have this entire year and even a lot of last year: Feel like good things are coming. I've stayed the course. Had a lot of patience recently. Everything is starting to fall in place.
Everyone goes through kind of peaks and valleys with different parts of their game. I got a little off in set-up in alignment with short game shots and putting and really starting to progress nicely, starting to see my lines better. Whether putts have gone in or not I've had better strokes.
I was very comfortable on Sunday with Tiger. I felt like I didn't get a lot of good numbers. I had a lot of in between numbers on shots. Some putts that were -- the speed was a little off or the line was a little off.
I was as comfortable as I've been in a pretty relatively uncomfortable type of situation this entire year, including even playing well at the Masters.
So, feel good about the way things are. This is a fun three weeks coming up. Obviously this course I feel like I'm at an advantage, and the next two weeks have been good to me as well.
JOHN BUSH: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Jordan, do you feel like you've been kind of an ambassador for this course and what are your thoughts on how the field turned out?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I haven't felt that responsibility at all. I've been pretty open and honest with my comments regarding the course, the tournament and everything to my peers going back to entire last year.
I've known the place, I've seen it progress. Changes a lot each season, you know, with the fescue and kind of the look of the place. And I've been very open to my peers.
Obviously I want everybody, you know, to come to Dallas and play in this tournament but I also recognize, you know, where it is in the schedule and you know, historically -- I say historically, maybe the last ten years, kind of field strength versus other events being a little on the weaker size.
This week, this year will be a very kind of positive impact and I think will get better and better fields years to come out here.
Q. Jordan, given some of the bold design features out here and some of the pretty wild greens, if you were a spectator, not playing, and you were going to set-up house somewhere and watch to be entertained, what part of the golf course, what hole would you do that in?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I would probably go in that giant 360 grandstand that's located to the right of number I guess it's 12. They flip the 9ths. 12, where you can see 6, 16, 12, you can see a number of shots.
I also think a great spot to go is No. 8, there's a little grandstand set up there and there will be I think at least one Hole-In-One this week on that hole.
That's always exciting on a little pitching wedge, probably a pitching wedge par 3 which funnels to the hole. You can see some pretty exciting shots there.
I would say that would be the most fun spot.
But as far as -- it's difficult to speculate out here given so many runoffs on the greens. That's why there were so massive grandstands built. Anywhere where you can get a vantage point is probably the best option.
Q. In your playing out here, is there one hole that has grown on you the most and maybe you first thought, oh, and now you kind of figured out how to play and you like to play now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I think the common, the common murmur will be 17. Mr. Crenshaw has called it his favorite hole out here.
It can be an awful hole and it can be a great hole. It really just depends on where the tee box is put. The PGA TOUR does a fantastic job where the winds are, how the ball will react. Figure out how firm the greens are.
That was a hole when I first played the golf course thinking this could ruin the golf tournament but I played it with a 9-iron in my hands, I played it with a 4-iron in my hands and it's probably going to be somewhere closer to that 9-iron to 7-iron range where you can get balls feeding into holes and it will be very, very fair and make it a little bit easier hole versus a challenging hole.
That one has grown on me a lot mainly because the first time I played it I'm like, "What are we doing here?" Now I think it can be a pretty exciting, you know, finish where you can feed one in there and make a 2 on maybe the 71st hole that makes a difference.
Q. You said that you had been open with your peers. What's one or two of the main questions you've gotten from people about this course and what's one or two of the advice or tips you passed out to people looking for advice or tips?
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean the most common question is, "What is it like?" Pretty vague question but, you know, I say it's very different. I say it's really -- these are my words, "It's really fun as a member, as a change of pace kind of a golf club."
I play at a couple other different places, too, Dallas National being very hilly, Fazio, totally opposite of this course. To be able to have those two choice courses to practice at is very cool for me.
For the tournament, I personally am happy, given my history at the other golf course, you know, not great compared to my history at other golf courses.
So -- or other tournaments.
So, a place where I feel like I have an advantage and creates kind of more feel. Also reminds me of Birkdale, kind of a links-style course you have to play from the air on a lot of it with big slopey greens. Feels great and looks great. I like the vibe of the course while I'm out there. That's what I say.
Pieces of advice, certain clubs -- certain holes guys are asking is it worth going here, what do you hit here? The drivable 5th will be downwind. That's always -- that's tricky.
Certain holes like even like No. 3 out here, is it worth hitting driver. No. 10 -- 3, 10, 5, there's a few holes where guys are wondering if it's driver or you lay back.
I had dinner with Smylie last night and kind talking through a bit of the golf course on what I do. I also play it, you know, where there's very little downside.
I played I'm riding a golfboard and playing music and playing the back tee on every hole. There's going to be a mix of tee boxes out here that change the golf course significantly.
I have a lot to learn still this week but it's good to know most of the sight lines and recognizing where balls funnel to.
Q. Jordan, I was curious as to your thoughts about the Supreme Court decision on sports gambling and what you saw as perhaps some pros and cons to gambling becoming more prominent around pro golf in the coming years.
JORDAN SPIETH: I did see that. It's a significant -- it's a very significant day in sport for that to be overturned.
I don't know what kind of change that makes. I know the PGA TOUR has stepped in and there are stricter policies for us and our teams regarding releasing information and obviously we can't gamble ourselves on our sport, whether it's passed or not.
I don't know all the rules to be exact but I know that there are obviously stricter policies about information.
What was the rest of the question, I'm sorry?
Q. Just maybe just pros and cons or what you thought as some of the benefits. I know the Tour has said they're behind having it become more prominent in the coming years.
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know the numbers. I imagine economically it is a boost for States.
Cons, people call gambling a vice. Now that you've made it legal and more open, it's kind of a personal decision I guess but, I mean I made a hundred bucks off Harold Varner other day on a basketball game, a friendly -- I don't know.
I'm not very educated but I imagine it will boost the economy of the States that allow it. I think they said something like 22 States might put it into effect within a year, whatever it is. But I didn't read much into it.
Q. So the practice area here has different types of bunkers, different types of grasses and I assume that's good for you and Cameron has a place here.
I guess I was trying to figure out, how many rounds you think you might have actually played here given that it doesn't really seem to lend itself to preparation for a PGA TOUR event.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It's funny, here and Dallas National, neither one are like most of the PGA TOUR courses we play. They offer between the two of them just about every shot that's necessary.
How many rounds have I had played out here? Probably a good -- I mean kind of large number, 25 to 40 rounds. Probably closer to 30, 40 hounds.
Q. And then, you know, given AT&T's vested interest and your vested interest in the tournament, I wondered with the date as uncertain going forward, we don't know the 2019 schedule, is there a prime date or a good date you'd like to see this tournament land?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think the golf course would be at its best condition and best playability if it were two to four weeks later than it is right now weather-wise.
I think that's prime for it based on the guys I've talked to out here, you know, like a June kind of date. It would also be fantastic if it were like a September but I think -- I mean I've heard rumors here, there, about potential dates for it being, you know, whether it's somewhere couple weeks earlier, few weeks later and I think the golf course has better potential to play the way everyone wants it to play if it were just a few weeks later. It's in awesome shape right now.
Q. Jordan, I know you touched on it briefly but what do you remember most about your first time playing in this event and that T-16 finish and what inspired you to write that letter to get a sponsor exemption?
JORDAN SPIETH: The most vivid memory is the first tee shot I hit on No. 10, just the feelings that I had. There was a rain delay. I didn't tee off until after 4:00 which was not fun waiting around, you just want to get out there and go.
But I remember the first tee shot and I remember my first birdie, I birdied the 14th hole, probably the hardest -- one of the hardest holes on the golf course to get to 1-under through 5 or so.
I remember, you know, finishing up on Saturday and Sunday on 18. What prompted the letter? Well, I was told that in order to receive an exemption you have to write to the tournament. With the help of my dad, kind of put together the letter that was, I guess, released within the last couple days.
And we kind of got guidance, I don't remember who from on kind of what to put in the letter, you know, write who you are, write your accomplishments, write why you think it would be a good exemption, write about how your peers have had success and you'd love the opportunity and so we kind of typed it up. My dad helped me a lot with it and it worked out.
I remember when I got the call I was in class my junior year at Jesuit. I missed the call but I knew I was going to get a call either way that week and so I went out in the courtyard, it was like the middle of the day in February, sometime in February and I called them back and they said that I was going to get the exemption.
Needless to say the rest of my day was not very productive and it was very productive at the golf course afterwards. I think I practiced past dark that night. I was obviously very excited.
Q. Golfboard golf out here. Can you paint a picture for us how that works?
JORDAN SPIETH: They're great. It was created to be a walking friendly golf course. It's as easy a walk as anything like -- closest comparison being Sony in Hawaii.
Easy walking golf course but I don't walk when I'm not on Tour so golfboards are great. The golf carts, cart paths are pretty far away.
You take the golfboards right up on to the fringes and they don't make much a path and everyone is on their own. It's good for pace of play and so we typically go out with four, five guys all on golfboards and just cruise around and, you know, in three and a half hours with a five-some and it's a blast.
It's funny when you get on it for the first time it's pretty awkward. By the 3rd or 4th hole you get the hang of it.
Q. Jordan, this event last year you were tinkering with your putting and then certainly your summer spoke for itself. Coming back now a year later, the putting is again an outlier.
Do you see any parallels to last year or do you take what happened last summer as a boost of confidence to know how quickly it can turn around?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. It's very similar. The only difference being I had won a tournament by this point last year so you feel like you have a little bit of freedom, house money kind of first win of the year when you get that checked out it's -- no matter what, you feel like it's a successful year.
I don't have to win for it to feel like a successful year. I can put myself in position and in the Major Championships like I want to do but that's obviously ideal is to get one as soon as possible.
Yes, as far as where the game feels, I feel a lot better right now than I did Tuesday of the Byron Nelson last year about the state of my game for this week. Colonial I kind of started -- I figured something out, putted pretty well there and had a chance to win.
Then obviously stayed patient through the summer and struck the ball beautifully, gave myself enough chances. But it does feel eerily similar to last year and I can take last year as a big confidence boost forward the rest, 2018.
Q. Jordan, with temperatures set to be low to mid, maybe even upper 90 all four rounds, is there anything you do either before the round or during the round to maintain your focus?
JORDAN SPIETH: Just a lot of hydration. Layoff the sauce every night, no alcohol. It makes a difference if you have two beers on a Tuesday, really does.
And you got to kind watch what you're eating, too. Stay away from big steaks. These are the kind of stuff you start to learn once you kind of feel sluggish.
I'm 24 and still kind of feel a difference here and there. So yeah, lot of hydration every night starting today, recognizing that -- forecast for the next two weeks is no rain and mid to high 90 every single day and these are busy couple weeks for me.
So, rest and recovery being very important key at night, doing the tech boots and re-hydrating every night and make sure you wake up feeling fresh.
Each day once the round is finished it's very important once that round finishes you're really starting for the next day, the second you get into the clubhouse, so you really have to be disciplined with it to be at your best by Sunday afternoon.
JOHN BUSH: Couple more.
Q. You mentioned Smylie awhile ago. Is he one of the guests in the Spieth Resort this week or who do you have?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. Smiley and Francie are saying and the Grellers are staying at the house this week, yeah. Just like last year.
Q. Hunter Mahan is coming in here in about an hour. If I'm not mistaken, that used to be his house.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes.
Q. Do you guys ever talk, does he ever ask you questions how are you taking care of the old place?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, little while back within the first year -- I've been in the house for two and a half years now, I don't think we talked about it since maybe within the year of when I moved in.
But Hunter has an event that I'm playing in later this afternoon on the back range. He knows the course really well, as well as anybody.
No, as far as that goes I don't -- I mean they did a great job. I love it and I get work done in there, too, the gym and simulator and it was really well done.
So, certainly appreciate the work they put in there and I very much enjoy it.
Q. Jordan, PGA Championship already announced they're moving to May next year. One of the likely landing dates for the Byron Nelson would be the week before the PGA or the week after.
Does that help? The field is what it is this week with five of the Top 50 and whatever, 6 of the top 20.
Would that help if the PGA was next week, do you think that would bring more people here to the Trinity Forest?
JORDAN SPIETH: If it's the week before either Major, whether it's the PGA or the U.S. Open, I think that certainly helps the field. Guys -- there are guys who strictly choose not to play the week before Majors but there are a number of guys who love to play the week before.
So, it would, I think, help the field compared to this year. I think overall, like I said, I really think this course is going to make a great impact. I think people were skeptical a year ago and I think it's going to be a happy surprise this week.
So, overall, I think it's going to get better every year no matter what but certainly a week before Majors would help.
Q. Also, do you still -- Phil the all-time king of the pretournament money games or a young buck somewhere that you think will one day would take Phil's title as the king of the money games?
A At some point Phil won't be on Tour anymore. Doesn't look like it's going to happen for another ten years.
But no, I mean it's fun, its fun playing those matches. Phil is obviously, he's known for getting some really fun matches going, great groups.
I haven't played with them on a Tuesday or Wednesday in awhile but would obviously jump on any opportunity because it's great to have putts that matter prior to a tournament. It's great preparation and he's known that, he loves putting that together and it's been certainly a catalyst for some of his success.
JOHN BUSH: Last question.
Q. You mentioned the scepticism of your peers a couple of times. I just wondered why is that? Is it a links thing or just dramatically different course?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I think you know, there was a caddy tournament and I think a lot of guys they were looking on -- this is around The Players Championship, it's around lumbar Wells Fargo, around Colonial, Memorial lead into the U.S. Open.
People have to take weeks off. They want to play certain tournaments and when a course changes they're going to ask around because not everybody is going to be able to go in and see the golf course, changes on Tour.
They're going to ask around. If you get a few guys -- there are going to be guys who just don't like this type of golf course, links course, big, crazy greens.
It could -- the murmurs can roll throughout and that could be like okay, it's probably not great if a couple people don't really like it and I'm looking for a week off so this makes sense.
I think that's kind of a lot of what happened this year. Different players had seen it and different caddies had seen it last year and players are asking those kinds of questions and certainly don't blame them. I've done the same thing at tournaments.
So -- but I think it will change. I think the fields will get better year-in and year-out but I think the majority of it is because it was a change not only of golf courses but to a style that we don't see very often and therefore because -- if we switched to an extremely well-known golf course, say it went to, I don't know, say it went to a different city and some golf course that's been played in the Majors or something, then it probably wouldn't have had the same impact. It would have been different.
Change can be a great thing but when guys are looking for a potential week off, change is kind of an easy out. I think future years though we'll see better fields.
JOHN BUSH: All right, Jordan Spieth. Best of luck this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports