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VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP


March 12, 2014


Jordan Spieth


PALM HARBOR, FLORIDA

MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth. Jordan, it was a year ago here that you secured special temporary membership. If you want to maybe go back to that time a year ago and talk about how far things have come for you and then we'll go ahead and take some questions.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's really the first week where I've been at the course that has really felt super comfortable as I've had great vibes and I played L.A. -- I mean San Diego and the 18th tee at Pebble the year before but this is the first course other than the Deere and Dallas that I've come back to having played four rounds there on the same golf course.
So, I guess technically, you know, along with the John Deere, which I played as an amateur, and last year in the Byron, become my most experienced golf course, which is a good feeling. I love this place. Excited to be back.
It was cool the relive some of the shots that earned my status and kind of got the year kick-started along with Puerto Rico.
You know, it really took it to a different level and I was able to play the PGA Tour instead of the Web.com Tour or mini tours.
So, it's a special place for me, a place I'm very comfortable. I really feel like the course fits my game well and, you know, I gained some momentum off Sunday last week and my short game feels great and I'm striking the ball better this week.
MARK STEVENS: Questions.

Q. What is it about this place? Why does it feel comfortable for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I just think the layout is great. It's a ball striker-type golf course. I think that you need to work the ball both ways off the tees and be smart. Trees overhang some of the sides of the fairways and so you really need to be able to work the ball around and hit them high and low.
I know tomorrow we're going to get some 20, 30-mile an hour winds so it's going to play difficult and the greens out here are tricky. They don't seem very difficult to putt on but the slight, little subtle grain changes make all the difference in speed and lines.
So, it's going to be a difficult day tomorrow. But having experience in the wind and especially even playing in it last week I think will help.
You know, today I was looking at the yardage book, not focused on what exactly it was doing today but where the wind was going to be tomorrow, what clubs I was going to hit and where I was going to hit it to and try to find those spots.

Q. How would you compare the pressure or whatever you felt the last -- the back-9 here compared with the back-9 in Puerto Rico?
JORDAN SPIETH: In Puerto Rico I was second to the last group. Here I was 8 groups maybe ahead. I got off to a really good start. I birdied 8 to get within one of the lead on Sunday and I remember being a little more comfortable.
I made a couple -- I think three bogies by the time I got to 17, though, to fall out of it but Puerto Rico, I stuck in there and was a little more in contention than I was here so that was definitely nerve-wracking. But, at the same time, they're different places and when I was here I was actually -- whether I didn't want to say it or not, you know, I needed to finish T-13 like two ways to get the right amount of money to not have to worry about using my last two or three exemptions to try and earn status.

Q. You knew that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I knew that. I was looking at the boards and grinding it out and so the last three holes on Sunday here were three of the biggest holes I played all last year. I mean none of the rest of it possibly would have happened if I wasn't able to hole a flop shot on 17 and got up and down out of the front bunk on 18 that I made a 6-footer I gave more fist pumps I did at the Deere.
It was so bit at the time. Also, I actually saw the replay last night, I was flipping through and almost never watch any golf or read anything about myself or the tournament and whatnot -- no offense -- I just try to keep my mind away from it.

Q. None taken.
JORDAN SPIETH: Only you, though. But I actually -- I saw the putt last night. It was pretty cool to watch and it was one of the biggest stretches that I've ever played.

Q. Were you embarrassed watching your reaction?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. No. I was smiling. I was intense. Gee, I shouldn't have been smiling there, I'm walking off the green, yes, yes, giving Mike a fist pump. I should have at that time just started smiling and realized but, it was -- it was an intense moment and I was grinding and it was cool to pull it off.

Q. What did you do on 16, do you remember?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not exactly. I think I hit a couple good shots in there and had a birdie putt from 15 feet or so and missed it. I knew I needed one of the last two -- one on last three. That's not easy in the Snake Pit.

Q. Have you begun soliciting advice from guys about how to handle your first Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH: Good question. Not exactly. I haven't been asking a lot of guys about -- the only thing I've talked to them about is them -- a lot of guys have told me going back to last year, you know, ever since I was knew I was going to be in the Masters to try and get there early -- the course changes a lot but you want to get there, get the whole awe factor out. I think I've done that.
I've gone along the grounds, I've seen where pins will be. I knew them just from watching back to when I was 7, 8 years old and just kind of getting an idea of where certain lines you take on shots and clubs you can hit but until the week of, you know, as far as work around the greens and, you know, specific shots off tees, it's not going to make much difference because the course does play so different this time of year.

Q. When did you go and rub the awe off?
JORDAN SPIETH: I played 27 holes in October right after it opened and then I played the weekend prior to last week's WGC. So, the weekend of Honda and I was there, played another 27 holes. So I played 10 and 18 a couple extra times. I played it -- those are easy two holes to play.

Q. You'll just stroll in like an old hand then?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. No. No. Like I said, the golf course is completely different and I heard daily from Monday through Sunday daily the course changes. At least going in there, it won't be the first time on the grounds. I'll be able to really, I think, get focused a lot easier than letting my mind stray.

Q. Are you really going to feel like a rookie, though? You've accomplished a lot in the last year. You've won, you played the Tour Championship, Presidents Cup. Are you still going to feel like a rookie when you walk on to Augusta National?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I don't think so. I think that -- the right way to approach it is like any other tournament, like I'm coming out here. I'm going to see the same guys I saw last week, a lot of the same guys here this week and the weeks to come.
So, ultimately, if I walk in with the same mindset I have at any tournament that I've had success in the past I think is the right way to do it.
I don't walk into these kind of tournaments feeling like a rookie anymore and I think that helps me. I don't know if it makes much of a difference. It won't be the same feeling as if I was there from the finals of the U.S. Amateur playing, playing that way, having the little experience I have but having the experience of playing big tournaments in world golf championships now and those elite fields. I'm sure it will feel a little more normal.

Q. You remember the course going back to watching it is when you were 6 or 7. At the risk of making us feel old, what's your first memory?
Cabrera?
JORDAN SPIETH: I remember certain shots. I remember Tiger's shot from the collar on 16. I remember Phil's putt to win, '04? I was 10. So I think Tiger's was before that, '02 or '3 when he hit the shot -- that was '5.
Phil may be the first one. That was -- I was about 11. That's as far back as I go remembering the shots. Since then -- whenever I see the Masters, you know, if I'm flipping through and the Masters highlights on from the year, I'll sit down and watch that. I think it's so cool to watch that golf tournament.

Q. Going back to watching it on TV and going and shaking off the awe factor, what surprised you most in your first couple times there?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, some of the -- they say the TV doesn't put the right elevation into context and it's exactly right. I didn't get the full effect of that because the course was softer, the ball is not running all the way down the hills or rolling off the sides.
Certain holes like 13 really amazed me how much that hole doglegs. I thought you kind of sling one around the corner with a 3-wood and it rolls. You're hitting almost backwards. The wind is not only -- it doesn't just change 90 degrees, it changes a lot more than that, almost goes backwards. It's a crazy hole.
It's cool. I hit driver -- I played that hole three times. I've hit driver each time, just straight ball just through into the rough and I hit a hybrid in each time. Probably hit 3-wood in the tournament.
Some of the lines, just the significance of the turns and then obviously the elevation changes were the biggest things and the severity of the greens, obviously.

Q. Did you take Michael with you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Michael hasn't seen it.

Q. How far do you think that's going to be?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been telling him, Mike, just so you know, it's going to be a fun week being the first one and a lot of people are coming. You're going to be up there from sunrise to sunset. I want you to try to walk 36 a day in the practice rounds. It's going to be a beat-down getting prepared for that.
I'll prepare my time the same way I do each week, I think, as far as trying not to -- I think what I've also heard from other guys is that you didn't want to get out there and try and play 18 a day and just practice, practice, practice and wear yourself out ahead of time.
If you're going to be in contention, you need as much energy as you can get because you're going to use it all at the Masters.
So, I'll probably prepare my way the same that I do week to week and trying to just really space things out what I'm working on, but Michael, on the other hand, when I'm not or even if I am on the range he'll be out there on the course hitting as many shots as he can.

Q. Have you ever played a tournament with Crenshaw in the field?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. No. I had dinner with him not long ago, few weeks ago we had a big dinner. He wants to get out there and play 9 holes early in the week. I'm going to try to take him up on that. I'd love to reach out to Mr. Watson and try to play a few holes with him as well.

Q. You could easily get paired with Ben.
JORDAN SPIETH: That would be really cool. I would very much enjoy that.

Q. Have you ever met Charles Coody?
JORDAN SPIETH: No.

Q. Just aside from the course, what was the biggest awe factor when you walked through those or drove through the gates?
JORDAN SPIETH: Walking through the Champions Locker Room or seeing the Champions Locker Room and kind of eating dinner there back in October and just looking at -- kind of just looking out from 1 tee just at everything or 18 green back into everything, it was -- you can just kind of -- you can see how everything echos through the place.
It's just an amazing piece of property and it's already so green and everything is grown in and I think just seeing the history inside and then just -- I've been on the grounds for Monday practice rounds a few years ago and that's about it but being able to kind of just be out on the course and to be on playing 11, 12, 13 -- and my favorite hole is 16, it was really cool just to -- had a big smile on my face the whole time. When the tournament comes I want to enjoy it but I want it to be like another tournament.
MARK STEVENS: One more.

Q. Jordan I think the know answer to this. Can a rookie win there?
JORDAN SPIETH: Don't ask it. Yeah. There's been a first time winner before, wasn't it? Yeah. I mean you mean a rookie at the Masters, right?

Q. Yes.
JORDAN SPIETH: I think so. I think that -- I think that it's -- I'm going to have to play my butt off, I have to have my A-plus game there because I think it definitely helps to see that golf course multiple times but if we go through the right preparation, I'm on my game, then I feel like I've got a good shot at it.

Q. Real quick, what were the circumstances of that practice round?
JORDAN SPIETH: Circumstances?

Q. Why did you go? Who got you the ticket?
JORDAN SPIETH: I went with Bob Rowling, took a trip back in October, my instructor, with Bill Dunlap, a couple guys in the Dallas area based out of the Dallas area. I didn't know until we went on the trip and actually played Pine valley and Augusta in October.

Q. I thought you went to a Monday practice round there.
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm sorry. I went to that because we played a college event, Augusta State's event and finishes on Sunday and we just stayed an extra day and went out and watched and then flew home that evening and I think the team will be out there again playing in the event so I'll probably fly in and have dinner with them Sunday and hopefully they'll come out and watch some on Monday, play with Mr. Crenshaw and come watch.

Q. Who did you watch that day?
JORDAN SPIETH: We walked around to certain holes. I wanted to go watch 16, the guys skip across the water and who was it that made it? I witnessed.
MARK STEVENS: Vijay?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. Vijay may have made it.
MARK STEVENS: I think I remember him making it.
JORDAN SPIETH: It was really cool. We just walked certain holes. We watched guys hit on 12 and I watched at the time it was Kelly Kraft who is one of my good buddies back in Dallas he was there because he won the U.S. Amateur.

Q. Is that the last tournament you watched as a fan?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. The last tournament I was at watching, yeah, definitely. Definitely the only practice round tournament I've ever been at to watch (laughter).
MARK STEVENS: That's for your time, Jordan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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