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March 25, 2015

Jordan Spieth


DAVE SENKO:  We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth to the Valero Texas Open media center.  Jordan, maybe just get us started, maybe just take a look back at your win a couple of weeks ago at the Valspar Championship, maybe talk a little about that, and then we'll open it up for some questions.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Sure.  Yeah, it was a great week.  It was a great team win.  One that is going to put us back in Maui.  And moved up the World Ranking and the FedExCup, so all‑in‑all, it was a really, really nice week, one that I really felt like it was coming.  I felt really good going into the week.  I told Mike at the beginning of the week I thought it was our week, and we were just patient enough to pull it off at the end and really stuck with it on those last few up‑and‑downs.  So it was good scrambling, and nice to close out on a made putt on a close one.
Just, I guess, one of the these days maybe I'll get a two shot lead going into 18 and hit the fairway and the green, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
DAVE SENKO:  You live in Texas, how special is it to come back and play in this state?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's very special.  As a native Texan I always like playing the text events.  This event, in particular, gave me an exemption when I was in college.  And then when I was on Tour, when I just earned status I was going to receive an exemption, whether or not I did at that point, I think towards kind of the last minute.  So it's a tournament that has helped launch my career and one that is close to my heart.  So I like being back here.

Q.  As you said, being a native Texan, not just this tournament, this week, but more next week with the Shell Houston Open, can you talk about what the tournaments, the Valero and the SHO, do for you being a native?
JORDAN SPIETH:  They do a lot, because the week right after that is an important week for us.  First and foremost they're very challenging tracks to help prepare us for the first major.  In their own right they're both very different golf courses, very different feels, at being at both of them.  They both are awe text field, but this is more of a hill country, and that's more of a‑‑ kind of a Florida‑ish, but really a Houston feel, kind of a Bay feel.
But both challenging.  Here you've got to deal more with the wind and kind of the stuff right off the fairways that get you in trouble.  And there you've got to keep it out of the water.
So I enjoy being able to drive to both of these tournaments, drive my own car around and see a lot of friends and family that I don't get to see a lot of the year that come to visit.  And then at the same time get ready for the Masters.

Q.  You've had a chance to play with Sam Burns yesterday, a high school kid playing this week.  Take me back to the first PGA Tour event, maybe different because you were right at home, obviously a great finish there.  And now knowing what you know, what should his expectations or focus be this week?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, I think she's extremely well prepared to play this week, after playing nine holes with him yesterday, I've heard about his game, I met Sam before, I met him at the Ryder Cup, he was on the Junior Ryder Cup.  And really, really a nice kid.  He knows the game really well.  He works both ball flights.  That's going to serve him well on the Tour in the future and it's going to serve him well this week.
I think with the conditions that we're supposed to have tomorrow with the crazy winds, really could play to his favor.  I think that his ball flight works well for it and being able to hold it up in the wind both ways.
So for his expectations, I mean I'm sure he doesn't enter a tournament unless he thinks he can compete.  And I'm sure that's what he's expecting to do, as he should.  Looking forward to watching how he plays this week and his career before he gets out here.

Q.  And then your emotions when you first played?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I remember my first tee shot was maybe the longest tee shot I've hit to this day.  It was No. 10 at the Byron Nelson there.  And I hit a drive‑‑ I just remember just really wanting to close my eyes, I was so nervous.  My hands were shaking.  It was tough just to get the club back.  I knew once it was going back it was going to go through really, really fast, I just needed to get it back.  After I hit it I was really pumped up.  I hope he has the same feeling, I'm sure he will.  Tomorrow it's going to be whipping downwind on one or 10, so he'll hit a big one.

Q.  He has a chance to play with David Toms a lot at home.  So there's a guy that's won on Tour 13 times in a major.  Maybe he's had a lot of opportunity to see what you guys can do out here through him.  Was there a guy in Dallas that you spent a lot of time playing with that helped you out?
JORDAN SPIETH:  A little bit.  Here and there I would watch Justin Leonard practice.  And whenever I made it out to Royal Oaks, the club he plays out of, would ask him questions here and there.  There's quite a few guys before I turned professional that live in Dallas, Martin Flores, Dustin, Harrison Frazar.  I guess Dustin being the one with the Major Championship, so most similar to Sam's background.  Yeah, everybody that I asked back then and since I've been on Tour have been very welcoming in offering their advice on and off the course.  Mostly off the course.  On course, if you work your way out here, you kind of know the process how to do it.  It's more about figuring out time management and really just handling certain situations off the course.
So very helpful and very fortunate that this Tour is like that.

Q.  Being so close to Augusta last year, is there anything that sticks out in your mind that you want to improve or fix or know that you might face again?  And coming out here this week, you might be able to work on that this week at this golf course or is it way too different?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's not extremely different.  You get a lot of the same kind of pitch shots.  But as far as‑‑ I'm just going to try to go about the same plan that we had going into Augusta last year.  I don't think there was much I needed to improve on except for a couple of shots that I hit Sunday were just barely mis‑hit.  And so that's just getting enough repetitions just to strike the ball well.
Augusta you have a lot of shots with different stances.  You'll hit the ball three feet above you or hit one three feet below you, upslope, downslope, they're all into the grain.  Here when you get into the grain it's somewhat similar to it.
But not a whole lot I'm working on specifically at this point to change from last year.

Q.  You talk about that first tee shot at the Byron Nelson.  Look at where you've come since then.  For most of us it looks like a pretty meteoric rise you've been on.  I'm thinking maybe it doesn't suck to be Jordan Spieth right now.  Talk about that.  Has it been a whirlwind, has it been a fast‑paced rise?  How have you been able to comprehend what's gone on?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I guess by just setting different goals each year and setting out to accomplish them.  I don't really look back and‑‑ I'm very pleased with how everything has happened.  It certainly happened faster than I could have imagined to get to this point in my career.
But at this point, if I look back, when I was 13 years old and said this is where‑‑ this is what I accomplished in my career and it was everything up to this point, I'd be disappointed.  And so in order to get to that next level and to really set out to achieve the long‑term goals I set a long time ago, I need to set smaller new ones each year to then attain that overall goal.  And I think that's what's kept me going forward, going forward quickly, because I work hard for it.
We've got a great team around us, and that's the goal of the team.  All the people that I've brought in to be part of this when I turned professional were people with the same goals and the same mindset that I have.  And that's why I think we've been successful.  So looking back, yeah, I mean I'm extremely happy with where everything is.  But still hungry.

Q.  What is your goal now, is it to be No.1?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  Yeah, I'd like to at some point be the No.1 ranked player in the world, that's the pinnacle of golf.  I'd like to win at least one Major Championship, try to get one before we look forward from there.  But ultimately I'd like to be one of the best players to ever play the game.  I don't think that's a conceited statement, I think it's just something that I've always wanted to be since I was a kid and have a chance to do and I'm really lucky that I do have a chance to do it.

Q.  Coming off a win and everything, how much different do you feel going into Augusta a couple weeks out, as compared to last year?  And also having finished second there last year, how much more confidence do you have going into that?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I feel better going in than I did last year.  Last year at this point I'd actually had a really good season.  I had a couple of chances to close tournaments out early in the year, and even a World Golf Championship, I was playing really well at the match play, and didn't quite get there.  But I was in a similar position, I think, in the FedExCup and the same kind of momentum.  But this year I feel a little better having closed that tournament out.  I also missed the cut in Houston last year, so I went in with some questions, I guess, right off of an early finish.
But hopefully this year I can play eight tournament rounds prior to arriving on the grounds.  My swing feels better, putting stroke is getting there.  I putted well the last two weeks.  But that's just going to be a whole another thing once you get on those slick greens.
So all‑in‑all very confident about where I'm at going in.

Q.  When you think back to that Sunday at the Masters, anybody that knows you knows you go into every tournament knowing, thinking you're going to win.  That Sunday, I don't know if you felt that first nine, you felt like you were going to win, were you kind of mad at yourself that you only finished second?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, yeah, it was frustrating at the end because looking back I raced out, which is great, you want to‑‑ my whole point was let's get off to a good start Sunday and then we can play the way we want to play from there.  But I just got a little, I think, I just got a little ahead of myself.  And I say that because I just lacked a little bit of patience of looking at the round as a marathon, especially the back nine at Augusta on Sunday.  There's so many different changes, there's so many things that can happen, that I think I was trying to race in with pars, instead of really sitting back, enjoying it, understanding that there's‑‑ people are going to make birdies in front of you, Bubba is going to make birdies in your group.  You are going to make birdies if you're giving yourself enough chances, putts will fall.  I think I got a little bit caught up in wanting them a little too bad in taking that lead.  That's something I've learned since last year that I capitalized on at the end of last year to close those tournaments out and something we've worked on and worked really well in Tampa.
Now it's just about finding my game, playing the course the right way to get in contention, and trying that patience out.

Q.  Did you watch a lot of tape of your Masters?

Q.  Have you been back there to practice much?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yes, I went there in December and then I was there two and a half weeks ago before Doral.  So I was there‑‑ I played four rounds since.  And then I'll get there hopefully Sunday night and maybe go 18, nine, nine, for the week, so get two more full rounds.

Q.  Pace of play is an issue wherever you go, PGA Tour or muni.  But last year there were, in the last round, and the year before there was a few notable suggestions from Tour officials to groups to speed it up, they were put on the clock.  Is there something about this course that makes it a tough place to get around?

Q.  What are those things that really make it tough to get around here on this course?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, for one, the trouble isn't the hazard.  You're going in to try to find your ball or you're walking up thinking you're going to find it in a good spot.  And then when it's not in a good spot, well, now I don't want to find it.  You want to play it as a lost ball.  You get guys that are coming up and walking all the way back.  That takes a lot of time.  If it's a hazard and you didn't find it, you know it went in, take a drop there, that saves five to ten minutes on that hole.
So because it's so challenging on both sides of the fairway, you get any shots astray, which will happen tomorrow in the wind, it's going to slow down the round significantly, especially if you're trying to grind.  Any tough course is going to play slow towards the lead groups because for whatever reason you're normally grinding it out a little bit more.  I don't think it should change, no matter what position you're in, but I do it for whatever reason, and it just happens.  So, yeah, I just think because of the trouble off the tee that this course maybe could yield slower play than other places.

Q.  I saw all you have to do is jump on the Internet and see about this big house you've purchased.  I remember feeling lucky to have an apartment when I was your age.  What are you going to do with that kind of place?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I mean, honestly I bought the place months ago and for whatever reason it's just now coming out.  So I'm not really sure why anyone really cares.  But so be it.

Q.  Are you comfortable with the increased scrutiny coming out every move you make and everything you do is going to be scrutinized and people are going to know about it?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Sure.  I understand that the better you play the more attention is on you.  I still want to play better so I know that if I do that then that's going to be the case and I accept that and really enjoy it.  I kind of have fun with it.
DAVE SENKO:  Thanks, Jordan.

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