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April 7, 2015

Jordan Spieth


MODERATOR:  We are pleased to welcome to our interview room a young man who continues to shine as one of golf's promising young stars, Jordan Spieth.
In his Masters Tournament debut last year, he finished tied for second.¬† He went on to record eight Top‑10 finishes in 2014.¬† With his victory at the 2015 Valspar Championship month, he became the fourth player to win two PGA TOUR tournaments before the age of 22.
Before we open up it up for questions, could you tell us how you are using last year's Masters experience to prepare yourself for this year's 2015 Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Sure, yeah.  It's nice to be back, and this is in my mind the greatest place in golf.  Having been so close last year and have a little experience and riding some momentum, I hope to put myself in contention and use what I've learned since last year.  I think last year's event, I certainly took a couple things out of it, as well as the positives that came from closing out a couple of tournaments at the end of the year and a few weeks ago.
Then last week, I had an opportunity to close, as well, and just missed.  So there's stuff to take from the close losses and stuff to take from the victories.
Obviously in a tournament like the Masters, you know, looking to just put myself‑‑ give myself a chance when the weekend comes around and see what I'm made of.

Q.  Are your expectations different from what they were a year ago, and if so, can that be a good thing and a bad thing?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Sure, I think they are, and I think it can be both.
Last year I had‑‑ I think I remember being in here saying I had no expectations, didn't know what it was going to be like, never played the tournament before.
This year, I come in maybe expecting to play well on a course I feel very comfortable on.  I feel like it suits my game nicely, and also I feel like I've been playing well.  So as long as I'm getting enough rest and just keeping with what's been going on the last month, should be able to make some birdies and get myself up there.
And yeah, I mean, it can be a good thing and a bad thing.  Part of me wants to improve on last year and that's my goal is to improve on last year's finish.  Another part of me says, you know, let's not overthink this place, keep it simple and make it like a regular event because that's how I've had success in the last few tournaments is just trying to hit as many greens as possible, get into a rhythm with the putter.  Once that happens, you know, see a couple go in, the hole gets bigger.

Q.  I was wondering, I was watching practice with Morgan Hoffmann; if you can imagine what he's feeling and just what that was like, and if you don't mind, a little scouting report?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, played with three first‑timers today, those rookies (laughter).¬† No, we had a really good time.¬† Just picking each other's brain, talking about how great the place is, how perfect and how pure the course is.
I tried to offer a couple pieces of advice as far as specific places on the course where I felt like once the tournament comes around, if the greens firm up like they were last year, you're not going to be able to tell in the practice rounds.  But holes like 13 where the best position is to go at certain pins; that they probably already knew but just trying to offer anything I could to a couple of good buddies.
Morgan and Brooks are both capable of contending here and both have the game for it.  Brooks obviously winning earlier this year; and Morgan, a great talent.
Whatever I could help with and whatever ‑‑ we were just going both ways.

Q.  You mentioned the end of last year.  I was wondering if you can talk specifically about what the Australian Open victory did for you in terms of confidence and your progression and the way you were able to do it with that stunning final round, given your closing before that.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I think the Australian Open may have been the most important tournament that I've ever played in because at the time, it had been maybe a year and a half since winning the John Deere in that playoff where I kind of squeaked in, luckily.
And going there to an elite field with the world No. 1 player and obviously with the local favorites with Adam and Jason; I say local, countrymen.  And then with a venue like the Australian, put myself in a position and just had a level of patience that I had not had when I was in contention prior to that.  I was trying to want it too bad, trying to get off to too fast of a start and not realizing the length of a round and how a final round in contention can almost feel like two rounds and you have to maintain the same patience the whole way.
That's what we did that day.  Didn't let anything get to us; the roars in front, the scoreboard changes.  And shot arguably the best round I've ever played when tied for the lead.  So it was a huge, huge boost for me and it allowed me to close the tournament, close it the right way and feel comfortable with the lead when I had it the next week and since then.

Q.  Looking back on last year here, did you feel differently under that kind of final round pressure than you had felt at other times in your career?  And secondly, was there a best or hardest lesson that you did learn from what happened that Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yes, that was definitely the highest amount of pressure I've ever felt.  That first tee shot, I think I hit it into 9 fairway and was just real quick off the tee.  Played pretty much the entire round feeling different than I've ever felt on the golf course.
I enjoyed it, but at the same time when you're feeling that kind of pressure, it's hard to get comfortable picking fearless shots, and then kind of bailed out on a couple swings, trying to look up a little quickly, caught in the groove low, and that's the mistake and the mistake on 9 and the mistake on 12.¬† They were both 9‑irons, where I think just the pressure and wanting to see it at the hole so bad instead of just going through the same rhythm, that's where it got me.
So I guess the hardest lesson taking from last year was that I had an opportunity to make a dream come true, and I had it in my hands, and then I was just a little anxious.¬† You can make the excuse that as a first‑timer and whatever, 20 years old, that that's likely to happen.¬† But in my mind, I was playing the best through whatever it was, 60 holes, 62 holes, and had an opportunity to continue that the next ten or 11 holes and didn't quite close it out.
So it was very disappointing, because I felt like the golf course was going to play into my hands.  Although, obviously Bubba has a distance advantage, but I felt like the way I was putting and the way I was striking my irons, I could close it out.

Q.  You had talked earlier about rhythm with your putter in general and the hole getting bigger and just being in the zone.  How comfortable do you feel on these greens these days here at Augusta?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Well, I'd like to say I feel comfortable, but each putt I've hit so far in the practice round, I've hit at least eight feet by; whether it's a 4‑footer or an 18‑footer or a putt across the green.¬† I'm underestimating them right now.¬† I just need to just get that down.¬† That can be worked on on the practice green.¬† I feel comfortable with the amount of break needed to be played.
The last two weeks were very pure greens, but very different.  I left quite a few putts short on the weekend last week, which I was okay with at the time knowing that I was coming here.  But going to need to adjust.
You just really have to have an imagination on these greens, because putts that typically you play a ball out, even downhill putts, and you're still going to take it easy; you have to play three, four times the amount of break on a lot of the putts out here, not only with the influence of Rae's Creek, but also just the speed of these greens.
So I feel comfortable going in.  Right now, I'm in a good place entering Thursday on the greens.  It's a whole different level when you get out there.  I've got to put myself in the right spots.

Q.  How much or maybe little video do you and Cameron use on your swing?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Very little at this point, very little.¬† I looked at‑‑ he has his camera out and he takes a few shots, but for the most part, we don't use the video, especially during a tournament week.¬† I trust him in what he's saying, and as long as we're seeing the ball flights, that's what matters.¬† We try and keep the technicality to a minimum, and it works really well for us.¬† That's just kind of who we both are.

Q.¬† And following up on an earlier answer, is it unusual to be a 21‑year‑old dispensing advice out here?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, maybe a little bit.  Again, with guys like Brooks and Morgan, they are my peers.  Older, younger, I don't think any of us really care.  I don't think it was a big deal, they were seniors in high school when I was a sophomore in high school.
Now, yeah, I just was trying to be nice and help in any way I could.¬† Again, it's just‑‑ maybe it's a little odd, but I've got a lot of good buddies that are out here now that are rookies on Tour, guys like Justin Thomas, Carlos Ort√≠z, they are good friends of mine.¬† Sometimes it's odd when I'm speaking to them from an experience point of view, when I look at them as friends and kind of the same age.¬† It can be a little weird.

Q.  Seems like you have a really good working relationship with your caddie.  What does he bring on the course that you consider the most valuable?
JORDAN SPIETH:  He's very positive.  He's very positive, he's very patient and he doesn't really react too much.  He's one of the most competitive people that I know, but he doesn't show it on the course, which is very helpful.  He's not living or dying on putts.  He knows that we know what we're capable of doing and we know that it can come out when we want it to, and it's just about putting myself in position to allow it to happen.
He brings a lot of positive vibes on the greens, saying:  Remember the putt you hit on 5, knock it in the middle just like that, just stuff like that, brings a nice voice to me when I need it, especially in the heat of the moment.

Q.  One criticism of younger players over the years is that they spent too much time on the long game and not enough time on the short game.  Watching you, doesn't look as if that was case with you.  How did you apportion that time when you were younger and what fundamentals in putting did you learn then that you still use today?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I think one of the keys when I was younger to establishing more practice on my short game than long game was the fact that I love to play.  I was never a range rat.  I always felt like I got better playing.  I would hit balls on the range to work on my swing and to see a few ball flights, and if I was hitting what I wanted, then we would go out on the course.  I would go out and play with my buddies.  Just playing rounds, you get different shots, different lies.  The ball is above your feet, below your feet, thick rough, bunkers, whatever it is.
You just can't really for the most part get that on the practice tee.  You can on this practice tee because it's so good.  But most areas growing up, you get a lot of different lies and you have to learn different weight transfer, different ways to hinge it, whatever.  You just have to be very much a feel player, and I learned that then.
What was your second question?

Q.  Fundamentals of putting that you might have learned at a young age that you still fall back on today.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, very basic stuff.  I think that the most important fundamental in putting is understanding where you're aligned, understanding where your putter is aligned.  That's when I get off is when even if I'm a degree off in my alignment, when I set it down and I look at the center of the hole, my putter face is pointed at the right center, right edge, especially on a course like Augusta National where you have to be perfect with your speed and matching the line of speed, I mean, that can miss the hole from five feet.
So understanding my alignment by using an alignment stick on the top toe of my putter pointed at the right edge; therefore, I know my putter is perpendicular to it and know it's pointed right to the middle of the hole.  That's something that I do that is very helpful for me.

Q.  You talked about patience at the Australian Open.  Is that what didn't happen last year when you got off to a quick start in the final round, birdieing 7, and might that have helped you then?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yes, I think the Masters and The Ryder Cup were the two events that allowed my success to happen in Australia.  Certainly would have helped last year.
I think that once I got to have to that start, I was sitting there‑‑ I was expecting myself to play a good, solid round.¬† But at the time, there was still three hours left in that round, and I maybe approached the next four or five holes as if they were the last couple holes.¬† And there's just so many lead changes, so much that can happen in the course of 11, 12 holes, and obviously it did going from‑‑ it was a five‑shot difference from there on in with Bubba.¬† I think I was in the lead by two and lost by three.¬† So that definitely would have helped.
And then at The Ryder Cup, in team play, with the success and in helping‑‑ I learned a lot from Patrick, as well, in the team play.¬† And then in the individual match with Graeme, again, I got up, and then just didn't quite find the patience I wanted to close the door so quickly.¬† And it just doesn't‑‑ it was a lot easier to do that back in college or in junior golf, and it just doesn't happen against the best players in the world.¬† So you just have to have that extra bit of patience.

Q.  Have you practiced with Ben Crenshaw yet this week, and how emotional do you think he'll be this week?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Oh, I think it's really special.  I kind of wish I was paired with him, but that didn't happen.  But I've spent some time with him, talking with him and with his family, and we are planning on playing nine holes tomorrow morning or midday, we haven't decided yet.  So that will be really cool to play, maybe join his last practice round at Augusta.
I think I'm also in front of him in the Par 3 Contest, so going to see a lot of him tomorrow.  I'm rooting for him really hard in the tournament.  He was hitting balls on the range this afternoon, and I watched like three or four drivers, and they all landed in the same exact spot.  So he's not the longest hitter anymore or ever was, but if he can hit it right where he's looking, and with his stroke, he may be able to find some success out here.
It's really special.  It's an honor to get to know him.  He's very helpful to me, always has been.  He's great Texas legend and a great role model that I've always looked up to.

Q.  How much closer, if at all, does Rory look than a month ago?
JORDAN SPIETH:  How much closer?

Q.  How much closer to getting to No. 1, to getting to Rory, does that look than it did a month ago?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I think a little bit.  He hasn't been playing in any tournaments the last couple weeks.  I know he's been working really hard, and this tournament obviously would complete his major Slam.
So to be honest, I'm not sure.  I'm trying to do my part.  Not really too focused on what he's doing.  I know he's the one that's in that spot right now, and I know really what I have to do to try and overtake that.  It's going to take a lot of special golf, as well as hopefully getting into contention with Rory and just testing myself against him and seeing what I've got.
Played alongside him many times now, and admired his golf game and his level of play, and I don't think, you know, I'm quite there.  I have a chance to get a step closer this week.

Q.  Speaking of Texas legends, obviously a lot's been written about you and Jimmy contending on Ben's last one.  Ryan Palmer, he's a friend of yours; should he be in the mix in your opinion?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† I think so, yeah.¬† He hits it far.¬† He hits a little right‑to‑left draw, and he's a good kind of feel‑based putter.
I think that if we actually get‑‑ I think the harder the course and the more challenging the weather, I think the better chance Ryan has.¬† He can stick it out in the heaviest of winds and can play in any condition.¬† He has a friend, we're playing the Par 3 tomorrow, but I think he certainly should be in consideration with his length and ability to be able to handle the shots around the greens.

Q.  When you got back and played No. 8 for the first time this week, we saw the replay of Sunday last year when you were kind of astonished at what that ball did or didn't do; did you go up to that spot?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, a little short of that spot, and I hit some shots, and every one of them checked up.¬† So I realized that it was‑‑ it actually does kind of check up there.
I was amazed, just because I came out of the rough, I guess the longer grass, it's not really rough.¬† But I was amazed it checked out of that.¬† But I hit some shots from over on that side of the back pin because that's right where you want to be.¬† And each one of them actually did check up.¬† So no excuses there.¬† That was‑‑ that's just something that I guess I needed to practice before last year.
But you know, ultimately, if I can get in that position again, I'd like to just put the ball on the green and take away the chip.

Q.¬† I know your caddie got some good advice from Carl Jackson last year.¬† In talking with Ben, did he offer any suggestions about‑‑ of course over the years, he's been known to play the highest line on a putt.¬† Did he talk about things like that to you about the greens here?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, here and there.  I'll pick his brain tomorrow.  It got rained out last year playing with he and Mr.Watson.
Today I had a chance, but I had already committed.  Maybe pick his brain tomorrow.  But this week, Michael has already talked with Carl a couple times again, talking about how to best prepare for the greens.
And tomorrow, I'll play nine and probably go on the other nine and actually take a putter and just hit what we think is the hardest putt on each green and kind of get a feel for that, and that gives you a feel for the speed and the amount of break that the greens are giving this week.¬† Because the greens will be as‑‑ obviously tomorrow they will be the most similar to course conditions for the tournament.
So that's the idea.  But I haven't spoken much specifically about it to Ben.  Michael's picked Carl's brain.

Q.  Do you know if he'll play the front of the back?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Probably do the same putting on every hole.  But probably play the back again like today and walk the front and hit some putts and chips, if that's allowed.

Q.  Tiger Woods was in earlier today, expressed a lot of confidence that his game is good enough now and he can be in contention this week.  How anxious are you to play against Tiger Woods at or near the top of his game?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, very.  It's been a dream of mine to be in contention with Tiger Woods in a major championship and at Augusta.
And actually, I think it was yesterday or the day before, watched some highlights of the 2005 Masters.  I don't really watch golf much, but I think that that shot that he hit on 16 against Chris DiMarco, that chip shot that he made, is arguably the best shot that's ever been hit in the game of golf, given the scenario and the fact that Chris had actually climbed his way from three back to being tied or with Tiger; actually beat Tiger by three in that round, which I wasn't really aware of at the time.
But I just remember watching that shot over and over and over again, and the magic that he brings to this tournament and every major championship, it is a dream I think for everybody to be in contention and try and take Tiger down on the back nine of Augusta.  But certainly rooting for him.  He wouldn't be here if he wasn't ready, and excited to see him back at the top of his game.

Q.  I just have to follow up on that, because Tiger said that you were in diapers, and he mentioned you specifically; said you were in diapers when he won his first Masters.  Can you confirm that (laughter)?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I can't confirm that.  I'm embarrassed; I just came out of diapers a couple years ago (laughter).  So I probably was.
Let's see, I was three, almost four.¬† So I don't know, are kids still in diapers at three?¬† Pull‑ups (laughter).
MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jordan, and good luck this week.

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