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April 9, 2024

Jordan Spieth

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to welcome Jordan Spieth, our 2015 Masters champion, to the interview room. Jordan, this is your 10th appearance here. You've had six top-5 finishes. What is it about Augusta National that brings out the best in you?

JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it was my favorite tournament growing up. I fell in love with it from kind of the mid-2000s, that crazy run of Tiger and Phil and whatnot, that got me into the game. So it was the most visible tournament, and obviously the crazy shots that were hit, the history of the event and the golf course itself.

And then since I've been here, it just seems to grow on me more and more. All of those factors. So it's a special week from tonight through the Par 3 tomorrow, now having two kids and having them involved in that, and then the Tournament itself. It's just a unique week, and I love it. I love contending here more than I do just about anywhere else, and I look forward to trying to do so this year.

THE MODERATOR: With that, we're going to open it up to questions.

Q. When you won, you were 21 years old. You're now 30 with two children, like you mentioned. How much has the changing family dynamic affected you, and how different is your practice and your tournament weeks now versus what they were when you were 21?

JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, not a lot different. I think in general I just get a little more tired because I'm 30 and not 21, which will only, from what I hear, become -- I don't think you go backwards on that.

So I think time management I may be a little bit better at but I also feel like have I to be better at. But other than that, not much has changed. I'm still working just as hard. I just may work to be done at 3:30 instead of 5:00. So I may go a little bit earlier in the day and stuff like that when I'm home to make sure that I'm home for when I can have all afternoon with the kids.

So, yeah, it's more just shifting around when you're doing stuff. But in general I don't feel like it's jeopardized my work. I care about my family and my work. And then after that there's obviously a lot of other stuff going on. But I've tried to prioritize those and hope to keep it that way.

Q. Xander was in here yesterday and was talking about all the nuances around the greens, and he said, for example, you could hit your spot on a dime, but if it's not the right speed, it's gone. Can you talk about the creativity, imagination, and why that's another factor why you excel here?

JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, I think there's -- especially around the greens, spin is a massive factor, but it's also the height that it comes in at. Because sometimes you can have as much spin as you want on the ball, but because of the firmness of these greens, that first hop may go far enough where it's going down a hill, even though you've hit a shot where, say, next week it would end up four feet versus a little higher one might be one foot shorter. The dispersion is so much wider here.

So you have to have the right height and spin combinations. Some shots the spin doesn't matter. They have to come in landing softly, and some shots you'd rather have them low and skiddy to be able to play up ridges and not have to land it into slopes and stuff.

So there's a lot of imagination, but I don't know the place that requires more precision on a combination of height and spin, whether it's in a bunker or out of the fairway, than you see here. Especially when you get a little bit out of position on some of these holes.

So that's why they always say keep it below the hole out here, because you normally have a few more options where if you are a touch off you still have a good look at par. But when you're above the hole or pin high on a missed green, that precision just -- you just have to be significantly better than most weeks.

Q. When you look at what the year has done for you so far in terms of the Riviera, in terms of missing a couple of cuts, when you're trying to figure out how that happened, do you at all feel snake bit, and is there anything calming about getting here?

JORDAN SPIETH: I think it was more last week was calming than it is even just being here. I've come in here after a missed cut and had a chance to win, and I've come in here after losing in a playoff and winning.

So I don't really think that -- so in a way I guess maybe that is a confidence more than a calming, where I don't really go off of necessarily what's just happened, but in general I have a really good gauge on where my game's at. I feel like my game has been better than the results that I've had, which is they typically line up over a course of an extended period of time. I've just had some really outlier weeks.

And I thought last week was more of the settling down, like, okay, the couple mistakes I made were just random ones that I don't normally make chipping; otherwise, I would have been having a chance for third unlike those other two guys. But in general would have been a really solid week off of a couple weird things that went down.

Q. Calming effect before or after you hit it on the roof?

JORDAN SPIETH: You know, that was obviously -- I was probably calmer than you would have been in that situation. But I had better moments last week than just that one, yeah. But, you know, I could have saved a shot if I didn't 3-putt, but sure enough I could have just tried to punch it out left-handed and made the same score.

Q. You were mentioning the nuance that it takes to play here, but when you think about sustaining success here over time, obviously you had 2015, are there things that you think back from that year that you try to maybe replicate or do more of when you're here now?

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, make that many putts. It's that simple. I've hit it better a lot of years than I did that year, and you just -- I just was rolling 'em. So you try to work a lot on you have to hit some putts softer than you hit anywhere else, you got to play bigger breaks. So you can do a lot of that. They give you the opportunity with the practice facilities here where the greens are at or close to the speed of the golf course, where if you're practicing correctly, you can really get dialed. But it still requires a level of trust out there that is unusual in other places.

Other than that, I think, you know, each year you gain a little bit of experience, you have different shots that you're like, oh, wow, okay, that was a better way to play that hole. Or, you know, man, I haven't been here before, I don't want to go here again.

And so when you start picking your strategy for Thursday and you start seeing the hole locations, I think year over year it obviously helps quite a bit.

Now, in 2015 I had come in, I had finished second and then lost in a playoff. So I believe I could have been playing anywhere and would have been able to win by four. I think, you know, I didn't know as much as I do now, which is more of an advantage now than I had then, but I was obviously playing as one of the best in the world at the time.

Q. Just a broad question about the role of the rules in the game. Since the pandemic there's lots of new people in the game, and they're trying to figure out the rules and they're watching on TV and they see a ball go into a hazard and they see the official out there, he's got his walkie-talkie and he's pointing. It's all very confusing to them. Could you maybe offer a broad statement to people who are new to the game why these finicky rules or the rules in general are just such an important starting point to this game that you play?

JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think because the playing field is different for everyone every day wherever we go. We don't play on the same court. We don't play on the same length field. So in general there's going to be different situations that come up that you've got to have ways to figure out.

I think the easiest way to do it is if a drop -- if the drop requires a penalty shot, you can you teach 'em red hazard, yellow hazard, and then free drops, and from there the rest of it is somewhat easier than maybe it looks sometimes for us at the professional level when we've got some grandstand drops and stuff like that.

But I think in general you're supposed to play the ball as it lies; and if you can't, you have to figure out where you're allowed to then go. You have five options here, three options there, or if you're standing on a path or your ball's on a path, just go ahead and move it over a little bit, you know.

We have to do it very, very legitimately because it's a professional sport. But if I was playing with my friends, I wouldn't make them put the tees down and drop it from their knee for a cart path drop. Just, you know, put it where you can hit it, and then keep it moving.

I don't know if that helps at all, I'm sorry. You can follow up.

Q. If you wouldn't mind, just if could you broaden it out a little bit, like our faith in your scores, you say you shot 71, we believe it --

JORDAN SPIETH: I tried to get away with one lower earlier this year; so I might not be the person to ask about that. (Laughing.)

Yeah, it's -- I mean, it's a game of integrity. You keep track. That's why, honestly, I think handicaps are just such a great thing because no one's really inclined to -- you want to lower it, but at the same time the more shots you get the better it is at the tournaments that you're playing in.

So the system of being able to even out golf and allow someone that's 70 to play with someone that's 30 at different skill levels and still have a good match is something that can't be done in other sports.

So I'm not -- that's a different answer than the rules answer, essentially. But it's a beautiful game. It can be played by anyone at any level. But you got to do it honestly.

Q. You mentioned the unique elements of Augusta, and obviously one of them is the absence of cell phones. What impact does that have on you as a player with the gallery without cell phones in everyone's hand?

JORDAN SPIETH: It's amazing. But I also understand how advantageous cell phones are for the growth of our sport. So, it's nice for a week, but if it was every tournament, you know, we would -- our growth would be limited.

But what's really cool about it is you just feel that everyone's very, very present. They're not focused on if they got the right shot that they're sending and maybe they don't even know where your ball went, right? And here the patrons are -- just like at the Open Championship, they're just highly educated, they're very involved, they're very present.

So you end up having those kind of roars and stuff that may be similar but might not be, you know, with the phones out. You know, it just -- I think from a player in the ropes, which is the way you asked me the question, it's very nice because you feel like everyone's there with you all the time.

Q. Curious, can you describe the feeling you get when you return to the property and get to put on your Green Jacket?

JORDAN SPIETH: It's very cool. I think back to each time when I see it I or I think back to what it was like when I first got it. That obviously brings about great memories. But I think about the times since then too where all the dinners and being able to come back on other trips and bring family members, friends, and have a great time and wear the jacket and just be very proud that, for me, what it represents is it's the trophy here.

So it makes me very proud because it was the Tournament that was a dream to win growing up, and it happened. So it's just a cool feeling. But I don't get -- I drove Magnolia yesterday afternoon, and it's just a beautiful drive, but I didn't, like, video it like I did the first couple years and stuff like that. Probably still should.

Yeah, but the second you get -- the second our you're out there and play your first hole, like yesterday I got to 10 green and I'm like, man, this is just not like anything else. So it catches me at different times maybe than it used to, but it always still gets you.

Q. This is a week and a place that's probably been normalized for you over the last 10 years, but I'm curious about what -- you experience it so differently than we do. What are the things, what are the nuances, the nooks and crannies, that just stand out and are meaningful?

JORDAN SPIETH: Well, sorry, of what? Of what a player experiences?

Q. Yeah, a player experience of Augusta National and the Masters.

JORDAN SPIETH: I think about all the like getting to hit the shots. Like, I think just the pure golf of it, the being able to practice and you can only have one person with you on the facilities and nobody -- only your caddie with you on the course, you can only have one extra person on the facilities. So that experience, it's kind of -- it's quiet, it's peaceful, even though there's a crowd behind. It's different.

And then, you know, I kind of -- like, I don't spend a ton of time in the clubhouse or anything like that. I do the same things that I do on a normal week. I don't go do anything else. So I guess my answer could be what it is most every week.

But here specifically it's having fun hitting the shots on the course, playing around with the crowd. You can hit some cooler shoots shots here, play some slopes that -- like, you don't try to be an entertainer as much in your practice rounds at other tournaments. It's fun to be an entertainer here in a practice round. I think maybe that's kind of the biggest difference here.

Q. In Bahamas you shared with us that you discovered that you had had a wrist problem and there was going to be some period of how you were going to manage it, how much it might affect your golf swing. You've found that it affected it a little bit. I'm wondering what since then have you done or had to do to keep it from reoccurring? Have you had any problems with it since?

JORDAN SPIETH: Constant TLC. I had it reoccur in January after Hawaii and I had it Monday of the PLAYERS and then Monday of last week. When it happens, I can't do anything that day. So as long as it doesn't happen during -- typically, as the week goes on, it gets better and better, using it more and more, and I'm recovering more and more than, say, my days off at home. I'm getting treatment daily here. That's included with everything else that I didn't used to do.

So it's an ECU tendon issue that unfortunately I've not fixed, but when it flares up, it flares up for like 24 hours, and then it just slow low gets better, versus last May when I couldn't play the Byron and then in October it was another week and a half or so. And since then, since I've gotten more on top of it by December, I at least know what it is and how to get it quickly better.

But, yeah, it's something that I don't think there's really anything I can do other than rest. And I'm not resting it anytime soon. So I'll probably take quite a bit of time when the season's over and see if it kind of sets it back in place and doesn't flare up as much.

Q. Last year were the fewest 3-putts ever collectively at the Masters. Just wondering, is there any sense that the greens possibly might be getting a little less fearsome? And, if so, any reasons that you can see for that?

JORDAN SPIETH: Do you know with like the previous three or five years, is there a trend?

Q. It's trending down the last six or seven years, yeah.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, that's interesting. Maybe guys are just learning more and more and doing -- because they don't seem any less scary, if that's what you're asking there. I think that, I remember, I mean, it was really firm in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and then we've had some softer years like these front that come in like what's expected Thursday. Like, if there's some holes out there right now that, if you gave it two more days of sunshine, it would be, you, that stat would not hold up. But I think it's been, I would have to, you would have to look at the weather.

Q. 2016 was the hardest year of all.


Q. That hard, and firmness, yeah.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think it truly just has to do with the firmness or softness of the greens, because it affects how much that grass, that friction's there and it makes it to where putts that would, you would go six, seven feet by, stay at three, four feet and end up from a 60 percenter to a 95 percenter, and over the course of however many guys, four days -- I think it's weather-dependent personally, because I don't think that the slopes have softened or anything seems less scary. But I want to say early in 2021 or 2022, early on, before the front, they were really scary. That Thursday or Friday I remember them being pretty wicked. No. 9 was super firm and tough and then it rained and came out and it was almost like a different color, the green, and they just become a little bit easier to manage when that happens.

Q. You talked last year after the Masters that you only had a specific target on 50 percent of your shots. Just talk about, in your favorite event, how that happened and how you kind of make sure that doesn't happen again.

JORDAN SPIETH: It could be a number, I've had that happen a few times, I think, or, a number of events, sometimes you're just mentally fatigued. Here, that's not the case. I think a lot of times I get very, like, call it 14, for instance, everything's pitched very left-to-right, and I'm sitting here just like, Okay, I'm just going to make sure I'm drawing something down the middle, versus, I want this to drop in the corner of the grandstands and it's going to start on that tree. You get, there's so much pitch and slope and movement of the ball sometimes it's a little harder than, I'm going to hit a straight one right at that tree. It requires kind of a lot more feel to it and sometimes that takes a little bit away from -- it shouldn't, but I think it, I just get a little bit, could get lazy with targets sometimes, if it's on some of those holes where you feel like you're just really trying to move it a lot, it's hard to be, like, Am I really going to turn it from that tree there. But that's, I think, the only thing I can think of. But my goal is to have a specific and very small target on each shot. It's the easiest way to have your good ones go right where you want to and your misses be close.

THE MODERATOR: Jordan, thank you, and good luck this week.


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