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THE 147TH OPEN MEDIA DAY
June 20, 2018
Angus, Scotland, United Kingdom
MIKE WOODCOCK: Mike Woodcock. Good afternoon, everyone, and greetings from The Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Thank you for joining our teleconference this afternoon to preview the 147th Open at Carnoustie.
I'd very much like to welcome the Champion Golfer of the Year, Jordan Spieth, to the line.
Hello, Jordan. Thank you for taking the time to join us today.
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. Glad to be here.
MIKE WOODCOCK: I'd just like to start, first of all, by just referring back to the sad news we received this morning with the passing of the five-time Champion Golfer of the Year, Peter Thomson.
As the current Open Champion, can you which I can check share your thoughts with us on his achievements?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, obviously deeply saddening. I saw some pictures through the years this morning of him with the Claret Jug after he had won, and also some highlights of his, and he looked like somebody who was so proud of The Open Championship, somebody who singled that tournament out as a specialty, and his game certainly showed that.
I remember seeing one picture afterwards where he was -- the Claret Jug, he was hugging it so close to his face with a smile of just like pure joy. You don't see that, even in major championships, of guys with trophies. But you could see how much that meant to him. You could see how much that tournament meant to him.
Certainly one of the, if not the most, masterful links players to play the game. Very obviously saddened by his passing. But what a legacy he left.
MIKE WOODCOCK: Yes, that's certainly an amazing career.
Turning to the Championship at Carnoustie and the 147th Open, how much are you looking forward to going there as the defending champion and facing Carnoustie for the first time?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, you know, the title Champion Golfer of the Year is such a cool title. It doesn't get used over here on the PGA Tour. It's not that we get announced, anyways, for tournaments as we are teeing off, but I'm looking forward to having that announcement again as I get on to the tee.
Last year, this past year's Champion Golfer of the Year, when those words were spoken on the green at Birkdale, it just kind of hit me. It was almost like someone had kind of punched me in the gut in the best way possible.
Just you need to realise how special this is, and embrace what it means. I look forward to teeing it up at Carnoustie, having those chills go through me as I step to the first tee and remember the year before, and obviously get focused and try to do it again.
MIKE WOODCOCK: We're all looking forward to it, Jordan.
Q. That was a great tribute to Peter Thomson.
JORDAN SPIETH: Appreciate that.
Q. Just quickly, did you have a chance to sort of bump into him down in Australia, playing the Australian Open?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think I met him once, but I didn't have a chance to spend much time with him.
Q. My question, also, perhaps in relation to The Open at Carnoustie, having gone through what was a tough two days for you at Shinnecock Hills, are you looking for some sort of respite when you go to Carnoustie in terms of the setup of the course?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think I should prepare myself for anything easier. I've seen Opens at Carnoustie. I've seen what the golf course has a reputation and a nickname, "Car-nasty," among a lot of the players, for being that difficult.
Although it won't be necessarily the golf course itself; the conditions can obviously create scores similar to what the U.S. Open just saw. But I thoroughly enjoy links golf.
The Open Championship has always been one of my favourite events of my life to have played in, and I am looking forward to this challenge. I know Carnoustie presents, especially in the finishing holes, but really throughout the entire golf course, a tremendous challenge that as a competitor, you look forward to that tough, but fair, type of challenge.
And no matter the conditions, I know it will be difficult, but you can obviously expect a little bit of everything in four days over in Scotland.
Q. I just wanted to flip back to last year and the 13th hole in particular, and what happened there. Have you watched that hole and everything that happened back from start to finish, and if you have, are the events more dramatic than you remember or longer than you remember or not as long as you remember?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I actually watched it the next day. I got home to Dallas the next day, and I couldn't help but turn on the final round, and especially actually fast-forward until the tee shot on 13. I didn't watch the first 12 holes.
But I remember, I was like, I don't even know exactly what happened on that tee shot. And then from there, about five minutes into the looking for the ball, I got pretty annoyed with it because it was a lot longer than I remember.
For me, it went by pretty quickly because it was, okay, decision here, decision here, now I need to drop here, now I need -- but with the coverage, with the commercials, and then they come back and it seems like we haven't even moved. It was like, man, that really did take a long time. That was kind of tough to watch.
And then obviously watching from when the shot was hit to kind of -- I had no idea like where that shot actually landed until I saw, I guess third shot, where it actually landed, until I watched the coverage, and then kind of watching the chip shot. From there, I kind of remembered exactly what I was thinking, what I was seeing, where the chip went.
And then watched it in from there. It was kind of funny, things, for me, from the tee shot to the third shot, everything went faster than what it seemed when I was watching it.
But then after the 13th hole, everything went slower to me than what it on TV. So it's kind of this flip based on what I was watching and how I was feeling. I was like, wow, I kind of stepped up and hit that shot. But for me it was this whole regrouping and remotivating and resetting a goal, and all that kind of took place pretty quickly, I guess, in realtime.
Q. A follow-up from Ewan's question, really. How much do you think you will draw off that experience in the future with yourself and Michael, having made maybe the best bogey in Open Championship history; when you're going down the stretch again in a major championship, how much will you be able to draw on the fact that you were able to tough it out when the pressure was really on?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think in these last, I would say, 2014 Masters on, where I've really had a chance to win in majors, I've kind of had a career's worth of experience in four years, in three or four years, which is I think advantageous going forward, the way I look at it.
I think The Open Championship being a similar-type of situation to, say, the '14 and '16 Masters where I had really kind of control through seven holes in one of them and 11 holes in the other, and then it kind of falling out of my hands, and then The Open being the same thing through, really, 13 holes, and then bringing it back.
So I think that having a positive experience off of the kind of losing a lead and being able to regain it within -- within a major championship Sunday is one that not many people have. I wasn't trying to do it. It wasn't the intent, but it was, I think going forward, I can certainly look back on that as, man, positives can come out of what really seems like a day that's not going my way.
That's all you need is a little bit of that kind of belief.
Q. I just want to know how you evaluate your form this year, and what do you think you need to work on the most as you build up to try to defend the Claret Jug?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's been an off-year this year. The results haven't been up to my own expectations, and it's been putting the majority of the year.
And then the last couple of events, actually, I've been working so much on the putting throughout the year that it started to, as I knew it would, it started to come around and I'm starting to hit my lines better and see my lines better, more importantly. But then the ball-striking's kind of taken a little bit of a back seat.
I'm in my six-out-of-seven weeks right now here at the Travelers. I'm looking to have a bit more consistency right now. I'm looking to get a little bit of momentum of consistency throughout the game. Whether everything's firing or everything's just decent, right, I'm just trying to see everything start to rise up, and then I'll get a break leading into The Open, which I used last year as a week of rest. Kind of a week to slowly get back into it and then really a week of some hard grind to lead into The Open.
I have no doubt in my ability to come back and defend whether form's on, off or anything indifferent. I've proven to myself that I can go from two missed cuts to potentially winning the week after in previous years. That's not anything that throws me off.
But at the same time, it is nice to kind of feel like you're at least proceeding the right way; that you're gaining a little bit of momentum and that's what I'm looking for this week, which is important for the defence of The Open.
Q. There was obviously a fair bit of controversy last week with the setup and then the Phil Mickelson saga. Do you think it's important for the wider reputation of golf that we be controversy-free next time and just talk about the golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think it's a bit of a shame that the main focus hasn't been Brooks Koepka winning back-to-back U.S. Open titles, at least from what I've seen and heard. It's been on golf course; players complaining; Phil. You know, you never really want that, right, because it's such a difficult thing to do to win a major.
I don't know what it's like to repeat back-to-back years, but it's not blank; we do what we do we for the glory, right, for the other people that talk about it. But it is nice for the reaction to be about the accomplishment versus kind of the failure of something else; that I do know a bit about.
I've been on both sides of that with the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and then the 2016 Masters being someone -- that was two individuals versus, say, a golf course or a situation.
But you always want it to be about the person that one, and that's just a positive light. I think that it will be controversy-free and it will have more likelihood of that being the case as technology improves and as we move forward with courses that have hosted majors before.
So I don't see anything getting worse. I see it getting better.
Q. You spoke earlier about Peter Thomson being a links legend. Do you see anyone in the modern game winning five Claret Jugs, given the depth of the field?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it will be really difficult. I don't think that's -- I don't think that's impossible.
The Open Championship actually has more of a chance of half the field being thrown out than any other event, just given the weather, the unpredictability of the weather.
Look, where was it, it was Troon, where essentially half the field didn't have a chance to win the golf tournament given the wave of the first couple days.
So if you get somebody who is a consistent, Phil Mickelson-type player of 25 years that stays in the top of the game, isn't afraid to win on the biggest stage, and they get the right draws and obviously have things go the right way, it's possible. I think it's improbable, but I can see that, even with the depth of today's field, if you get some significant differences in draws, you really have half the field to beat.
And Steve Stricker was the guy who won the tournament out of the other wave back at Troon and I think he ended up getting third or fourth, but with Phil and Henrik so far ahead, it was impossible from the wave.
When you get situations like that, I think there's a chance somebody could win four or five times.
Q. You have not been to Carnoustie; is that correct?
JORDAN SPIETH: That's correct.
Q. So what will you do to get to know the course in advance, and then also when you get there?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably the same thing I did at Birkdale. I'll probably get in -- I think I'll go over -- I'm not exactly sure my plans. I'm kind of in between playing the week before or going over to Paris and seeing that course before.
But anyway, the plan is to get in Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening to Carnoustie, and whether I get out there and I'm able to do anything Sunday, great. If not, start preparation on Monday.
That's no different from kind of Birkdale or previous Opens or even other majors other than the Masters, courses I haven't seen. We can get a lot of work done within three days and totally understand the golf course and what it presents with my work, Cameron's work and Michael's work. Those are my plans.
Q. And what's the shot from last year that you most think about or most puts a smile on your face from the memories of that win?
JORDAN SPIETH: The 6-iron on 14. I thought getting that stroke back right there; getting that back and not -- and then going into two par 5s feeling like I had momentum. I thought that that shot led to that.
Q. Just looking back to last week. How difficult is it to put such difficult conditions and a difficult couple of days behind you? And Tommy Fleetwood's round, how special was that? And could there be American dominance at Carnoustie?
JORDAN SPIETH: Unfortunately I don't have much of a gauge on the difficulty last week. I only saw two rounds, and I thought the course was very playable the first two days. You know, the conditions the first day were tough, but I just shot myself in the foot based on my play. It wasn't anything other than the way that I played; the way that I struck the ball, that threw me out. I have no one to blame.
But I did see some clips of Saturday and Sunday, and therefore I have just that as a gauge to comment.
But a 63 on Sunday, he had a few putts at 62 I know he wishes he could get back, but 63 on a Sunday at a U.S. Open is absurd. It's unheard of. It's a fantastic round, and I don't think anybody was surprised, any Tour player was surprised that Tommy Fleetwood did it.
He certainly has the game, the capabilities, and somebody who has proven he's not afraid of the moment of the shot. I can certainly see him as one of the favourites, somebody who will have a lot of momentum if he works his way up to the lead, I say with home crowds, but guys that will want to see a Brit win The Open Championship. I mean, that's such a special moment for when that has happened in the past.
I think he's one of the top guys to beat, for sure. He's absolutely just one of the nicest people out here. Everyone very much respects him as much as they respect his game.
Q. Just wondering, what memories do you have of The Open of 1999 and what happened to Jean Van de Velde, and also, on that 18th hole to PĂˇdraig Harrington in 2007, and just given the difficulties that golf sometimes throws up as we saw with Phil, can you talk a little about the mental challenges the game poses and how you have managed to overcome most of those during your career?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't have any memory of the '99 Open, unfortunately. I've seen, you know, video of it but I don't remember it personally.
But 2007, I definitely do. That was kind of the height of me starting to fall in love with the game and travel and play.
I remember watching Sergio and Padraig going at it and I remember that 18th hole. I don't remember specifically where they hit it. I know Sergio had a pretty good look to win the tournament in regulation. I think that's right, and it just slid by.
But I remember kind of the routes that were taken and how good of a score par was on that hole and will continue to be for Opens us going forward. One of probably the toughest closing holes in The Open Championship anywhere, and that creates some drama when it comes down to Sunday, for sure, as we've seen, and I don't think it will be any different this year.
Back to your mental -- the second part. It is a grind. As much as you can throw out the noise; as much as you can stick to what you love to do, playing the game, accepting the challenges, and not thinking about what means what to you or to anybody else, and just play it because you love to play. That's the toughest thing to do for us when situations, tournaments are blown up; people are talking about score-to-pars. That shouldn't really be important to us.
It should be, we are playing ourselves and the golf course, and there's what we're focused on. It just that's sometimes very difficult to throw out, especially when you get into majors because you grow up looking at the praise people get from it and the life-changing that comes with it and the place in history and you want that, and that sometimes can certainly impact the way you feel and get away from your normal game and create drama.
MIKE WOODCOCK: We'll draw things to a close and I appreciate you taking the time to join us this afternoon and to answer these questions. I think we are all very much looking forward to Carnoustie and to the 147th Open and to seeing you defend your title there.
So thank you, again, and best of luck this week, as well.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you. Appreciate it. See you soon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports