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February 20, 2015

Jordan Spieth


Q.  How hard is this golf course playing with these greens being firm?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's challenging.  It's playing similar to a major championship, and the rough, there's really no rough.  That's what's great about this place is it only takes a couple days for them to make it like a major, and they don't even have to do much to it.
The greens this afternoon, it's a lot of traffic and it's tough to make putts.  The ball is bumping on poa annua, but there's nothing you can do about that.  They should roll a little better tomorrow morning and hopefully get out there and find the fairway, because only from the fairway can you hit it high enough with enough spin to really hold the greens.

Q.  The rough almost makes it harder because now you've got to make a decision.  If it was long, you just whack it out.
JORDAN SPIETH:  You're certainly going for the green everywhere out of the rough because the ball sits up okay, but the tough part is when it went in short of the green, it sticks and if it lands on the front, it will bound it back.  Really key hitting on the fairway.

Q.  On 18, 390‑yard drive off the tee and you were able to parlay it into a par finish.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Really good break.  You can't go right on 18.  I saw it hit the cart path once and thought it would go further into the trees and we get up there and it's sitting up nicely in the upslope in the bunker.  Good break but tough shot, picked it the right way and had a good look the right way.
Walking off that tee box, I would have taken four and signed the card.  Nice break to finish the round.

Q.  3‑under, halfway through most TOUR events that would be just making the cut and you're only a few off the current lead.  What type of field does this event have and how difficult are conditions?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's great.  The course is playing similar to a major championship.  I still think it's fair.  It's not out of control.  You've just got to be in the fairway to be able to hold these greens.
I think a lot of people are talking about how the approach shots are bouncing but most important part of this weekend, maybe playing out of that fairway so you can really get it up in the air with enough spin.  If the wind picks up, it can be even tougher.
So I'm very pleased, a great opportunity, only three back going into the weekend.  That is the best opportunity I've had all year so far.

Q.  You have a long relationship with Riviera and this event, you won the NCAAs in 2012, and got a sponsor's invite into this event that year for your third start on the PGA TOUR.  What does this tournament mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It means a lot.  It's a special tournament for me.  I think this is one of the greatest golf courses in the world.  Fans are great here.  It's always set up nice.  I like courses where you don't have to shoot 20‑under to win, and certainly if you shoot 20‑under, you'll win by plenty here.  I like difficult courses you don't have to do too much to.
They are not trying to mess with you.  They are just throwing pins in some hard locations.  It's a great tournament.  It's one that I owe a lot back to.  It was a great experience getting that PGA TOUR start that then helped our team win the NCAA Championship that year.  We got some good insight on pin locations and how it would play.  Yeah, it's dear to my heart.

Q.  Happy with the way you're playing?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I am.  I'm putting well.  I had a few at the end that were very makeable, as makeable as you're going to get on poa annua in the afternoon and be aggressive with it.  One slid around the hole and one dove across it.
Little frustrating that I didn't get one more coming in.  I played the back nine really well.  A couple dumb mistakes on the front.  Just need to make the right decisions and a couple lip‑ins will help.

Q.  People always talk about when you're making sloppy mistakes, it's okay when you are making lots of birdies.  Is that the way you feel right now?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, it's still‑‑ there's no water hazard out here.  But there's a couple bunkers that really are pretty much like you're hitting in the water, and that's that bunker to the left of 7, I got in the lip there and I had to try and slice a wedge out, which is pretty much like taking a drop.
And then No.9, just can't be in that left bunker on 9.  I've played this course, what, 20, 25 times now, and hit into three of them, and it's one of the most frustrating things.  Because you're hitting just a bunker shot to get over the lip‑out.
Yeah, I wouldn't say that it's okay that I'm making birdies with it.  I still know this course well enough, about as well as I know any course on TOUR, so those mistakes don't need to be there.  But three back and right in the hunt, yeah, and tough golf course this weekend.  I hope it plays into my favor.

Q.  This is your fourth time playing; right?

Q.  How does this stack up to the other three times you've played it?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's the hardest.  Fairways are bouncing more than they have.  I think last year, I can remember Saturday or Sunday, the greens were pretty wicked firm.  They are pretty close to that already.
Yeah, I think they had some front pins where you just couldn't get to them today.  You're hitting 6‑ or 7‑iron into the green.  If you land it on the front fringe, it sticks there.  If you land it on the front, it bounds; you just have to take 25 feet and be okay with it.  It took me nine holes to realize that.
And so even with 9‑irons, you couldn't get it to stick.  If they firm up anymore and there's still front pins, you're not going to see a whole lot of birdies on those holes but you can still take advantage of these par 5s.

Q.  Is it like a U.S. Open out there?
JORDAN SPIETH:  A little bit.  Other than the fact that there isn't any rough and it's still playing that hard.  I think it might be harder to make putts out here, given, well, we played in the afternoon today.  It was certainly hard to make it today.  Just so much traffic around the holes.  Even two feet isn't good out here.  Two feet turns into five feet this afternoon.  Those are tough.
But yeah, it's got as much of a feeling as it can without being a major championship, which I think is really cool.  I wish that more courses were able to get this tough.

Q.  Firstchance ‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH:  First chance?

Q.  Leading into the weekend‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH:  Torrey Pines, South Course there was playing really hard but I didn't really stick around very long that week.  But yeah, this is the first tough test.  Doral will be a tough test.  So will Tampa coming up.  It will be nice to try to tame this course this week and see what happens.

Q.  You won in Australia, but do you feel like you haven't won a PGA TOUR‑sanctioned event in a long time?
JORDAN SPIETH:  No.  I feel like if you look at the 2014‑2015 PGA TOUR schedule online, you'll see Tiger's event on there, even though it's not a FedExCup event.  Those two, it doesn't matter if it was some tournament on the other side of the world or here.  A win's a win.
They were great fields and closing those out were really big for me because I was feeling like I haven't won in a while and I was putting too much pressure on myself on the weekends, especially around this time last year through the summer.  Hopefully put a solid round together tomorrow to have a chance to win Sunday and see if that kind of focus and patience that I had at the end of last year will come out.

Q.  The difference between this and Phoenix and Pebble would seem to be that you were chasing big going into the weekend‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, Phoenix was‑‑ yeah, back door Top‑10s.  Last week, because Jim was so far ahead to start, but if you look where Brandt was, he was only a few ahead starting the final round.  But yeah, I was I think six back, and right now I'm at 3 with a couple rounds to go.  A lot of stuff happens in 36 holes. 

Q.  Typically when you're on your fourth tournament in a row, do you feel like you're in your groove or running out of gas?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Normally historically I think I've played my best golf third, fourth week in a row.  Doesn't mean that ‑‑ the second week in a row I've played really well, too; same with first.
I feel like I'm playing better my third and fourth week.  This one, I'm fatigued.  My legs feel kind of like Jello right now I think just because it's the first four of the year.  I didn't do a great job in the last three events of taking days off and really limiting my practice.
I sat out there and I was grinding on the range and playing extra practice rounds to get to know the courses, and you've really got to take your medicine sometimes.
You know, I was playing at least 36 holes before the tournament when in the middle of the year last year, I was playing 27 max, a Pro‑Am and nine holes.  I think that's a little something to learn from.  But I'll have plenty of adrenaline with me these last couple rounds.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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