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June 2, 2014

Jordan Spieth

CLAIR PETERSON:  Obviously you know how excited we are about being here by having our champion from last year, Jordan Spieth, come back.  He came in last night right from the Memorial Tournament, made a special effort to be here.
Before we get into the Q&A and get to hear from both our volunteer chair, Laura Ekizian, who will only be referred to as Divot, that's the only thing she wants to be.  It's always uncomfortable for new people to understand that.  But I just want to say a few things about where we are, the property.  Deere Run is one of the great venues on TOUR.  We're so fortunate to have a golf course like this and an operation like this.  Todd Hajduk, the general manager, Andy Stoterau, the golf course professional.  I don't know if everyone knows, but Alex Stuedemann is now the head superintendent.  Paul Grogan, who has been here many years, is still involved.  He's kind of moving into retirement, but Alex has already done a great job continuing what Paul started.  And you'll get to see that this afternoon.
We also have our select Chevy dealers, who have very generously let us use 200 or so vehicles, but more importantly, they take their two pro‑am spots and let a high school male player and female player tee it up during pro‑am.¬† Mr.Cameron Ehlers and Ms.Sofia Suarez are here, and we're going to really enjoy having them participate during tournament week.
Before I get any further, I think a reminder that this whole event really stands on the shoulders of volunteers.  1,400 people stepped forward last year.  We raised what Divot will tell you is a pretty significant number for charity, and our entire board, and Divot this year is our volunteer chair, our volunteers, as well.  So without any further ado, our 2014 volunteer chair, Ms.Divot.
LAURA "DIVOT" EKIZIAN:  Well, welcome back, and welcome to everyone here today.  As Clair noted, I'm lucky enough to be a volunteer chairman this year, and I am so excited to welcome you all, for those of you from Chicago here to the Quad Cities, and for those of us that this is a typical Monday morning exchange that we all do, this is very exciting.  You will see many of you today the venue that we have in store for you.  You're going to love it, and I think we're in for a great day.
First, I think it's important that we thank some of the people that have brought us here today, and it starts with our staff.  I want to thank Clair Peterson, our tournament director; Sally Welvaert, our director of sales and operations; Andrew Lehman, our assistant tournament director; our office manager, Vick McWhorter; Sara Stalf, our administrative assistant; and our duo in the Birdies for Charity area, our director Kristy Ketcham Jackson, and Amy Orendorff, our manager for charity development.
This is truly a team of professionals, and they are passionate about what they do and they are committed to doing it the right way, and trust me, within the PGA TOUR ranks they are respected for the results they bring year in and year out.  It's been an honor to even be loosely associated with this bunch.  Thank you, guys, for all that you do.
I also want to thank the dedicated members of our board of directors.  These are our community leaders, and they're interested in making sure that our commission of improving the quality of life in our region, providing growing annual financial contributions to our community, and promoting volunteerism and providing a positive economic impact to our region is exceeded every year.
Our board does this and does it very quietly, and we couldn't be more excited to have them join us here today.  Many of you will actually be playing with them today.
Now, here comes the meat of it.  I believe that every community needs the people, companies and causes that it can be proud of and support, the things that we can take pride in.  With the John Deere Classic we have the people.  We have over 1,500 volunteers strong that do all of the heavy lifting.  They are simply the best, and we couldn't do any of this without them.
We have a company in John Deere that quietly goes about its business in our community, all while being a worldwide presence and a model of good that American corporations can do inside and outside our borders.
And finally, the causes; the nonprofits that make it their mission to fix what needs fixing, to help our neighbors when they need help.¬† The John Deere Classic brings all this together with a best‑in‑class PGA TOUR event, which injected $6.32 million into our community to support the causes we need in our lives and an economic impact of over $25 million, and we actually believe that number to be much greater than that.
We are the people, the company and the cause that the Quad Cities can be proud of, can support and can rally around.
The Birdies for Charity is a vehicle we used to pass on these millions to over 460 charities last year.  These are the charities that do so much good work in our community.  These charities use the Birdies platform as a way to expand their fundraising potential and to earn our match, a match which we promise every year, rain or shine, will be 5 percent.  I don't know about you but I don't know where you're getting 5 percent on your money these days.  Last year we doubled that and gave them 10 percent.
That's real money to these charities, money they need.  This is a reward for organizing the most successful PGA TOUR event possible and the most efficient way to maximize our results.
We provide this promise to each charity because of the strength and support of this community, of our title sponsor, John Deere and the John Deere Foundation, and by standing on the shoulders of our committed volunteers.  Our volunteers know that what they do matters and it matters in over 6 million different ways.  That's my definition of paying it forward.
Pride in our community and our champions, that's the John Deere Classic way.¬† Jordan, you will always have a loyal and very dependable fan base here.¬† We share great memories of your thrilling playoff victory on the 18th hole.¬† It was a pretty cool deal to watch.¬† We are a close‑knit family within the JDC and we are honored to have you as one of our own, along with the likes of John Senden, Jonathan Byrd, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and many more that consider this tournament to be the place where magic happens.¬† Welcome.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Thank you.
CLAIR PETERSON:  That was awesome.  Tremendous reminders of all the things that we sometimes take for granted.
Again, what we are not taking for granted is that our 2013 champion is here.  He came in last night.  I don't know if you're aware, but he's played four weeks in a row, so having him here is really special.
He's going to sneak a little bit.  We had a little Twitter Q&A down in the locker room, and there were some pretty interesting questions, so when it comes to your turn, don't ask the question how many times have you had to remind people that it's I before E except after C, which he answered, and what's the best thing about being on TOUR is player dining.
But what we really talked about, and Jordan eloquently explained it in an interview, was what happened this week as far as launching him, he did one of the most courageous things that an athlete can do with really almost no status, declared himself as a professional and went out and earned his way through success.  By the time he had come here, he had a lot of top finishes at PGA TOUR events because of the way he played.  He teed it up, answered everyone's questions week to week.  He had all these FedExCup points sitting ready to be awarded to him if he became a PGA TOUR member, and the only way he was going to become a PGA TOUR member was to win a PGA TOUR event, which as you know is very difficult to do.
He did that.  Immediately he was ranked in the world immediately, with his FedExCup points was able to qualify for the Playoffs, played unbelievably in the Playoffs, got Captain Freddie Couples' attention who was captain of the Presidents Cup, got named to the Presidents Cup team, was on the victorious Presidents Cup team.
So from an unbelievably humble start, we're also proud that we gave Jordan an exemption the year before and enabled him to at least get a feel for what playing in a PGA TOUR event was like, but he just went out and got it done.  That's the beautiful thing about golf, and that's the wonderful thing about the Jordan Spieth story.
Without further ado, welcome to the podium our 2013 champion Jordan Spieth.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Thank you.  Thank you for having me here.  The way you put it isn't the way I see it necessarily.  Clair, Divot, everybody part of the tournament staff here, and I truly feel this way because it made such an immediate impact on me, but it's going to make such an impact on a lot of great young players in the future, but tournaments need to look at this event as an example because opportunities were given to me like what I had in college, which was to come here and play and test my game against the best players in the world, and there's no way that I win last year without that opportunity the year before, and there's no way that I'm able to feel comfortable and kind of make the adjustment on the PGA TOUR so quickly without the few starts that I was given, and the Byron Nelson did it for me back home, but for you to do it when it wasn't home for me just meant the world to me.
I don't know where I'd be without those starts, and I wouldn't be standing here.¬† This is just a very, very special tournament close to my heart, not because I won.¬† It already was before that, with such an incredible‑‑ you rattled off the numbers.¬† This tournament just does it right.¬† I love coming to the Quad Cities, and there's nowhere that has people this nice.¬† It's just the opportunities that come out of this.
There was a player Patrick Rodgers leading the tournament last year, and he's still in college, a good buddy of mine, and you just don't see that very often.  And to kind of look to the future and see the future of the game and to give them the opportunity to play here is something that I know nobody forgets.  I thank you for that.
But coming back here today it's very, very exciting for me.¬† Coming off a four‑week stretch, I came back in here, and it didn't take long for everything to kind of come back to me, and just pulling into the driveway and walking through the locker room, the last time I was in the locker room I was scrambling around trying to make the plane trip over to Scotland because I made it to the British Open.
That morning it was funny, the morning I teed off well in front of the leaders, I was six back to start the day.¬† I needed to shoot 10‑under, so guys were tearing it up.¬† It's not that easy of a golf course, and guys were tearing it up.¬† I had a really rough range session, and I never really have any kind of pain, but if I remember right, it was my left wrist was really killing me, and I was taking some‑‑ I took a couple Advil.¬† I never take any kind of Advil for anything, and I just hit it‑‑ I couldn't even keep it on the driving range, and this is a big driving range, and I couldn't keep it on it.¬† I just went out there and I bogeyed the first hole and just thought, all right, well, let's kind of scramble around today.
That's I guess how it was going to happen the first time was when I least expected it.¬† Obviously with the closing and the nice bounce off the pin on the bunker shot to get into the playoff, and five holes later, the two‑footer to win was obviously something that will always be in my head and something I'll never forget, and I hope coming back here brings some good mojo going forward this year, especially into next week.
But just so exciting to be here and be a part of this tournament, and to be a champion of this tournament is humbling.¬† Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, two obviously favorites here that everybody loves to root for, and how couldn't you?¬† They're just two of the best guys out there.¬† I've become very close to them even really starting with this tournament, and it's been a relationship that‑‑ Steve was my partner at the Presidents Cup and Zach a good friend of mine and a good mentor, both of them on TOUR.¬† Relationships start here because the opportunity is given just to play in this event.
What else can I say?¬† I cannot wait to come back.¬† It's going to be a really, really fun week.¬† I think my parents are going to come.¬† They weren't here last time, and they were pretty bummed about that.¬† So I think they're going to be back and check it out.¬† They were here two years ago when I was in college.¬† My little sister, she's obsessed with John Deere tractors, so she wants to come and go to‑‑ is it Monday or Tuesday?¬† It's always Tuesday, the Big Dig, so go out there and have some fun.
But it's going to be a very, very exciting week with a world‑class field, and I'll be preparing my best to try and defend.¬† Yeah, that's about all I've got.¬† Thanks, guys.
I'll open it up for any kind of questions.  Anything.

Q.  When did it sink in what the victory here would do for your career?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† It must have been halfway through the plane ride.¬† I definitely I just kind of thought what it could mean to me.¬† I remember coming into this tournament and coming into the final round really trying to make‑‑ it was going to be my last event before‑‑ I was maybe going to play Reno to try and make the PGA Championship.¬† I was trying to move up on that Money List.¬† And I remember being on the plane ride saying, I'm going to this major and now I'm in the PGA, now I'm‑‑ and that's what our sport is about is that's where your legacy is left in major championships and trying to win those.¬† So knowing that I could play in those last two of the year along with World Ranking moving up to where I could play in the World Golf Championships, and then I was thinking about the Playoffs.¬† I mean, I had temporary status, and what that means is I'm not eligible to play in the Playoffs, I'm just eligible to make enough money to earn my TOUR card for the next year.¬† And winning got me full PGA TOUR status for a couple years along with gave me all the points that I had already kind of hypothetically accumulated over the year and put me, I think, 11th on the list, so put me up there really, really high with a great start going into the Playoffs, which gives me four extra tournaments I didn't think I was going to have, and ultimately going to the TOUR Championship with a chance to win the FedExCup on Sunday.
So I mean, it all happened so fast, but I would say that the moment that I realized it could possibly change my golf life was about halfway through that plane ride when it all kind of sunk in a little bit.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† No, you know, the biggest thing for me is that‑‑ and sometimes it hurts me.¬† I'm so set and looking forward.¬† Sometimes I'm not able to enjoy the present as much as it may be good for me to.¬† But I look at it now as these past four weeks I'm always looking forward to my ultimate goal, which when I set really young was to be the best player in the world.¬† I want to be No.1 in the world.¬† I actually had an opportunity to get really close up there these last four weeks, and currently I've got nine spots to go right now.¬† I think that's what keep everything level is really looking forward.¬† I mean, I missed out on opportunities to win the golf tournament that I dreamt about, and I had the lead.¬† And I know it was my first try, and I know that that's not normal to maybe be in that position on your first try, but I had an opportunity to win a golf tournament against a few players that had a chance to win that day and didn't quite pull it off, and that's humbling to me.
Again at THE PLAYERS, and even if I had won those, still, that ultimate goal of becoming No.1 in the world is still out there, and I'm off to a good start in achieving that, but it's going to take a lot harder work than I'm even putting in now, and I'd like to think I'm putting in a lot of hard work.¬† But it's going to take that extra step that nobody else is taking, and that comes down to what I do at home.¬† That comes down to what I do on the road in preparing every aspect of my life for achieving that goal right now, and that's how I guess I stay focused and stay grounded because I'm not winning‑‑ I've won once out of almost 40 tries now going back to amateur days, and those percentages aren't very good.
That's humbling to me, and so I've just got to stay patient and my time will come.  But I've got to put the work in.

Q.  People still talk about you holing the bunker shot out here.  Would you take us through that again?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, so again on the back nine, I didn't really think I had much of a chance to win.¬† I birdied 13, hit a gap wedge in there really close, 14, almost drove the green.¬† I bogeyed 15, birdied 16, and when I birdied 16, I looked at the board and saw that if I maybe eagled 17 and birdied 18 that I would have reached 20‑under, and that may be the right number to post.¬† I still thought it would be 21‑under, so I still thought maybe it was out of reach.
I hit it on the green on 17.¬† I hit a hybrid in two and had a just up‑the‑ridge‑‑ it really wasn't a makeable putt.¬† It almost went in and went about four feet by and made it.¬† I remember standing in the fairway on 18 and I was looking at a board again, and I saw that nobody was making birdies on 12, 13 and 14.¬† They were behind me a few holes, and a couple guys birdied 14, but for the most part I knew that coming in 15 through 18‑‑ 15 is really, really hard hole, so is 18 with the pins those days.¬† And then 16 is no gimme.¬† 17 a lot of guys can birdie.
But I'm standing in the fairway and I had an 8‑iron in my hand from the left side.¬† The ball is below my feet, and I remembered thinking, you know, if I make a birdie, this could be good enough for a playoff.¬† It's not a fun shot with the ball below your feet.¬† If you know golf well enough to know that when there's water left and the ball is below your feet and you need to go at the pin, if you can hit the middle of the green that's a good thing because that lie is going to help you play away from it, but if you have to go for the pin that was not a fun shot to have, and that's when the nerves kicked in right there.¬† I hadn't really had them until I realized I've got an opportunity here.
I had to take some off of an 8‑iron and try and draw it in, and I just left it out there.¬† I was really upset with myself because I'd have been okay if I went after that pin and I got a bad bounce and went in the water, but I knew that I was aggressive and I took the chance, and I was mad that I bailed out and didn't think I had much of a chance.¬† I got up to the bunker and looked at it and said, if there's ever a bunker shot that you need to make, this is about the easiest one that I think I could have.¬† I mean, it's just sitting so perfectly.¬† Somebody had already been there.¬† It was raked, raked perfectly.¬† It was just kind of teed up, and I just had just a little downslope to the hole, which you want.¬† Just popped it out, and I struck it a little closer to the ball than I wanted, just a little bit.¬† It really bugs me when people tell me it was going in the water because it wasn't going in the water.¬† I mean, I get told that‑‑ I actually‑‑ people from the crowd will yell out throughout the year, good thing that one hit the pin, huh?
I struck it a little close to the ball, and I remember looking up after‑‑ I saw a photo there of when the ball came off, and I remember looking up and just saying, just hit the pin, find the hole, and it just did it, and it was just such a shock.¬† But yeah, that shot was just so cool, and then I didn't expect it, found the pin, went in.¬† Went in to sign my card and they've got a TV in there, and I saw Zach birdie 17 to get to 20‑under, and so I'm thinking, I'll go hit a few putts, but if he pars he wins.¬† 20‑under is posted so I wouldn't be able to win.
Go over and putt and hit some balls, and he had bogeyed 18.  I think he got a tough break with the lie, and then David Hearn parred it when he could have birdied to win.  So all of a sudden we were in a playoff.
But I think there was two shots that I look at more important than even the bunker shot from that round, and that I think were‑‑ the bunker shot was the most exciting part, no doubt about it, but more importantly, I was even par through six holes that day, and then No.7, which is a brutal par‑3, tees were all the way back, pin was back, I hit a hybrid, which is my 3‑iron, 2‑iron, to about six feet and made birdie on No.7 into a right‑to‑left wind, and that hole was‑‑ if you ask my caddie, what was the most important part of that day, he'd say that.¬† He said that changed everything.¬† I had been firing, I had kind of been bailing out on some pins, and then all of a sudden I think I had six birdies on the back nine, just started going at the pins and trusting it, and I think it was because of that birdie on the second shot, the shot that I really remember was hitting the 7‑iron punch on the last playoff hole that set it all up.
Looking back, I wanted to hit an 8‑iron.¬† I remember‑‑ I don't know if any of you‑‑ if you all were watching the telecast on it, they had us mic'd up and I wanted to hit an 8‑iron off the water, and Mike was like, I don't know about that.¬† I was like, how about a 7‑iron and just try and punch it straight through, and it just came off so perfectly, and it went right to the back fringe right where it needed to be.¬† Those two had already gotten into trouble and I knew that that shot could close it out.¬† That was the shot that I look at that was a much harder shot than that bunker shot was to make in my mind to get it up there around the green where it would be easy to get in in two.
But yeah, that shot, I remember right now I can visualize looking up and seeing the ball go right at the center of the green and kind of funneling up the green.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† No, I haven't done it anywhere else.¬† No, I don't think play any different.¬† Coming here now I think is obviously something I really wanted to do for the tournament, but I think it's also beneficial for me for when I'm playing in the tournament this year having been back here and just kind of talked a lot about past experiences and seeing everybody and just being on the grounds again and kind of seeing the setup.¬† So nothing will be a shock.¬† Nothing will be an eye‑opener necessarily when I come back.
I think my game plan will be just like I approach any other tournaments.¬† Stay patient out there.¬† I know that this week is one you typically have to make more birdies than a U.S. Open.¬† Normally it takes in the teens to even 20‑under to win, so that's always tough going in knowing that and trying to stay patient even though you know it needs a lot of birdies.¬† I remember last year I was just trying to press off the bat, and I shot 1‑over on my front nine of the tournament.¬† I teed off on the back nine.¬† I was 2‑over in my first like seven holes.
This year I hope to get off to a little better start than that, just knowing that the birdies will come out here if you're patient and you hit the fairways.  The golf course is so pure that putts will go in and you'll have some opportunities with wedges.  But coming in, I don't think I approach it any differently.

Q.  What's the best advice you've gotten from veterans like Stricker?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, that's a good question.¬† I don't know what the best advice is, but you know, those guys just stress‑‑ they're such good role models in really all aspects of what they do, and the majority of‑‑ almost all PGA TOUR players are genuinely great guys that do a lot of good for the communities that they're involved in.¬† Most of them have foundations or charitable funds to help give back.¬† That's just a part of the sport that's so great.¬† But that's mainly what I talk to them about is trying to ask them or learn from them about the off the course, how they're running their foundations, how they're giving back, what's close to them, what do they support, and they just give me kind of hands‑on advice here and there about that, and I'm actually going to be involved in Zach's event in Cedar Rapids on Sunday and Monday before the tournament this year, which I'm really looking forward to learning as much as I can.
But I mean, they're not necessarily out there telling me how to conduct myself.  They're more doing it by example, I think, and I just talk to them about sports and whatever else.  Yeah, I'll pick their brain here and there and I'll continue to do so on stuff off the course.  But they just do a great job of leading by example.
CLAIR PETERSON:¬† I know that many of you are going to want to do some one‑on‑ones and we don't want to keep you out of that opportunity, so golf starts in about an hour theoretically, and Barry is going to probably organize the one‑on‑ones, so if you can be patient we'll make sure we take care of everyone.¬† We're all going to be around here until you guys go off and play golf.¬† Barry wanted me to remind you that in your packets there's paperwork for your media credentials if you want to be here during tournament week, fill those out as soon as you can.¬† Transcripts of this are going to be available on asapsports.com.
With that, we'll kind of informally break apart and get the one‑on‑ones done and go play golf.¬† Thanks so much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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