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April 28, 2015

Jordan Spieth


MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth.  Jordan, you just got done playing the Pro Am, if you want to talk a little bit about the course and your thoughts coming in this week to the match play and then we'll have a few questions.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I played 8 through 18 yesterday in a practice round and played the full 18 today.  I like the course.  I think it's going to be fun for match play.  I think there are some birdies out there, for sure.  Spots where the rough is extremely thick and then spots where you can get away with missing the fairway.
So all in all, I think that this area, this square mileage, here, with these four great courses, is one of the best spots of golf in the world.  Obviously I probably put the Pebble Beach area and maybe St. Andrews area and whatever, and Long Island up there, but this area is really fun.  I'm looking forward to some great crowds this week.  And this format, it's really cool.  I wish we played some more match play, it's fun.  It's different.  It's a different feeling, too.

Q.  What are the differences going from high desert and Tucson and then to this one?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Well, ball flies very short here.¬† Ball flew very far there. ¬†So our pride is certainly‑‑ there's a difference, there.¬† But I was hitting the ball nowhere this morning.
I don't know if it really matters much as far as how the tournament will play out.  I don't necessarily see this as a bomber's course.  I didn't really see Dove Mountain as a bomber's course.  I think you've got to work your ball in both places.  I think this one may play more into my hands just having to curve the ball a little more maybe both ways off the tee, it's not as much emphasis in hitting high and far.  More emphasis in coming from the fairway, because the greens are firm.
All in all, you're playing that guy across from you, and he could shoot 2‑over and you could win with 1‑over.¬† You could also shoot 2‑under and lose 6 & 5.¬† It's the draw that day.¬† In the close matches, it's a matter of hitting the shots when it matters coming down the stretch.

Q.  Do you find yourself adopting a different attitude when you're playing against a single person and not the course or the field?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Possibly.¬† You try and obviously just pick a strategy and birdie each hole.¬† But your strategy changes throughout the round depending on where you are.¬† But as far as a different feeling on the first tee, maybe.¬† You don't really care about looking at the boards.¬† You don't really care about‑‑ I guess in this round robin format, there may be some scoreboard watching the last day or something, but again it's not really going to matter, you can only control what you're doing.
All in all, yeah, there's a different feeling when you step on the tee in match play, just having to play one guy versus the field.

Q.  Are you more cut throat?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I like it.  I've always loved match play and wish we had played it more.  I've had some success; I've had some failures.  I've gone through it all in match play.  I enjoy it, I think it's really cool, especially at the professional level to play against the best players in the world in this format, growing up with the U.S. Junior, U.S. Amateur, or whatever it may have been.  Yeah, it's a lot of fun.
There's certain guys that really like match play.  And I think I'm one of them.  I really enjoy it.

Q.  How much did the past month take out of you physically, whatever, mentally?  And secondly, thoughts on the format change.  Do you like the new format, round robin?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, if anything, the last month I'd say has put more energy into me, I guess.  Certainly being in contention four straight weeks takes some out of you.  But I slept for a couple of days when I got home and then back at work.
Having inched closer and accomplished some of my major goals in the sport of golf, no pun intended, at this point I'm inching closer and closer to more goals than I have.  And why not work as hard as I can to attain those goals if I'm already feeling like I'm playing well and getting more and more comfortable.
So that's exciting to me and makes me want to work harder and harder, and I don't really feel worn out.  I think I have my schedule the right way to give myself enough breaks leading into tournaments to be able to not be tired at the end of the year.  Maybe last year just got a little worn down during the playoffs.
And this year I feel like I've done a better job scheduling.  Not sure exactly what that means.  I'm not here to say what that means, but it's going to be better.
The change in format, I don't think it does anything.¬† It's more hype for you guys.¬† It's more hype for the public, but all in all it's still pretty much win or go home.¬† You certainly have a chance to get lucky if you lose one, but our mindset can't be like that.¬† You have one extra match to play in order to win, in order to win the championship.¬† And most likely you're going to have to win all three of your matches in pool play.¬† So you don't really want to go in playoff and you don't really want to lose and rely on that guy not losing the next two so you don't get the head‑to‑head or whatever.¬† It's all, in my mind, it's win or go home.

Q.¬† One of your Masters press conferences, you were talking about the 72nd hole bunker shot at the Deere.¬† You said you bladed it a little bit.¬† When you look at that shot, the ace in Puerto Rico, the 71st hole chip‑in at Tampa, do you ever like there's an element of faith or destiny that's got you this far?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, I think when I mentioned that, part of that was sarcasm.¬† I didn't blade the shot.¬† I hit a little closer to the ball than I wanted to.¬† It had some spin, certainly got lucky.¬† It wasn't hit the way I wanted to hit it, but it wasn't bladed off the‑‑ but anyway, yeah, I mean, when you go back to the finish at the Valspar in 2013, and then to get to that next step to get status, and then it happened to be a holed flop shot and then the bunker shot.
And then to get to the level of be a full member and a PGA Tour winner and playoffs, Presidents Cup, whatever.  No, I mean, I think that there was some luck involved.  And I think, sure, that was kind of God's plan for me, I guess, for those to go in.
And I'm in a position now where I can take advantage of my goals on and off the course at a younger age than maybe I would have been able to if those had not gone in.  I may have sped up the track a couple of years.  But all that all, I can use that as an advantage on and off the course, and I plan to do so.

Q.  Are there any things that remind you of Olympic at all about this place?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I mean the weather, the trees.  Obviously the topography is similar.  It's not as hilly, you're not playing on side hills as much.  But there is some elevation change here and there.  And the way the holes turn both directions and kind of hook around these trees, where they'll actually suck your ball in, too.  I've seen enough get stuck to where I'm going to try my hardest to avoid cutting off doglegs too much.
So, yeah, a lot of it reminds me of it.  But at the same time, they're also very different.  And they're playing extremely different.  The only time I played Olympic was the U.S. Open.  So it's night and day the way it's playing.  But certainly see some similarities.

Q.  Mostly drivers on a morning like this, where it's cold?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  You said mostly drivers?

Q.  Yes.
JORDAN SPIETH:  I hit driver, even compared to yesterday, I hit driver a couple of times yesterday.  I'm still trying to figure out how to play a couple of the holes.  It will be something to learn as we go.

Q.  In match play, how do you decide when and whether to concede putts?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, the Ryder Cup, I let Patrick do it (laughter).
I just stepped back and let Patrick make the decision.¬† Most of the time I looked over at him and he'd look back at me and go‑‑ (indicating.)
Q.Be the bad guy?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Not necessarily the bad guy.  He had more success in match play than I had or won more matches than I had, when it came to the national championship or whatnot.  I figured he knew what he was doing.  I wouldn't say it was a bad guy.  Shoot, he gave some putts, I thought it was nice of him.

Q.  Are you going to do it this week?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† If they make it 100 percent of the times, I'll give it to them.¬† They're not going to give it to me.¬† You're playing a round of golf against somebody.¬† If you're going to beat them in the round of golf‑‑ if there's a chance to beat them, then they're going to have to putt those out, right?¬† It doesn't depend on the scenario, it's just if I think it's a tap‑in, it's good.¬† If I think there's a possibility of it missing then somebody will have to putt it, then they'll have to putt it.¬† And I expect the same to me.¬† I don't have‑‑ I don't want it given to me, I want to earn it.¬† I want to make my putts.

Q.  Have you ever found in your somewhat limited experience in match play of seeing an opponent of getting annoyed by you?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, yeah.  I think a couple of times.  Actually Andy Sullivan is playing this week, he's coming off some really good finishes.  I played a Walker Cup match against him in the singles, and I made 250 feet of putts in this match.  And it was at Royal Aberdeen, and they were lucky.  I had a couple that were going too hard at the back of the hole, up in the hole and back in.  Some were really good putts.
And I remember seeing him that night and he was saying how frustrated he was.  He said, I couldn't do anything.  I'll never forget it.  He goes, I tried everything.  I was inside of you almost every hole and you won every hole.  It was one of those matches where he hit the ball a lot better than me, but the putter was the reason I closed him out.  And I think he was frustrated at that.
It can be frustrating if you're playing a lot better but you're just not scoring as well as your opponent.  That's tough because then you get frustrated then you start putting more pressure on your putter.  So I think for me it's about hitting greens, let myself get in rhythm so I can see some putts go on.  All in all, if you find somebody on a hot day and you're lipping it out, that's the end of match play.  And you may have won this tournament in stroke play, but because of that round it didn't work out.
So a lot of it is draw based.  And I've got a tough pool.  I've got guys that have all won within the last month.  I may be wrong on that, but won recently.  So everyone is playing extremely well.  And I expect myself to have to shoot really good scores consistently to get away with it.

Q.  Rory was asked before about does a kid that talented and hungry nipping at his heels, does that get him fired up and he says it does.  Can you appreciate what it would mean to golf, a Rory and Jordan rivalry, the two of you at the top of your game?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Yeah, I think‑‑ I still think I have a long way to go to where I could be considered that.¬† I think I'm off to a good start.¬† I don't like to think much about it because his success‑‑ I can't compare what I've done to what he's done.¬† Certainly he's had some more years to do so, but still in order to have a rivalry, you almost need‑‑ we need to be competing against each other consistently at the highest level.¬† And that hasn't happened yet.¬† It's happened maybe a couple of times, but all in all Rory and I haven't been battling it out in an event where we can kind of get what we want, I guess.
I'd love to play against him just like I love to play against anybody.  I think there's a lot of young players that can certainly step up and also take that role.  So I have my goal ahead of me.
To answer your question, have I looked ahead to what it could mean?¬† Sure.¬† It would be really, really cool for that to happen and it would be kind of‑‑ I could see it as almost a torch passed down.¬† That's a long way off.¬† Phil is contending.¬† Tiger is coming back.¬† Golf is in a great place right now.¬† I think in order to look ahead, I mean that's at least another five to ten years ahead in my mind.

Q.  During Rory's press conference, he unveiled he's on the cover of the new golf video game, he's going to the fight this weekend.  How much is that a motivating factor to you, and how tough is it to allow yourself to enjoy your success and still stay focused on the task at hand?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's hard to speak for somebody that is No.1 in the world.  I'm not.  I still have that goal.  That's what's pushing me.
As far as from Rory's point of view, it's hard for me to think about that.  I have not been there.  So for him to be able to hold his No.1 position and to continue to play really good golf while obviously enjoying the perks of being No.1 in the world is incredible.  And to be such a great guy with it is really good for the sport of golf and he's a role model for me in that position.
If things don't go perfectly this week, I may see him at the fight, who knows (laughter).  Maybe we'll duke it out right afterwards, who knows (laughter).
Certainly I'm starting to see how‑‑ being recognized more and taking advantage of certain opportunities and it's cool.¬† But we're both‑‑ certainly from my point of view, I'm still extremely motivated.¬† I haven't reached that top level.¬† I'm not satisfied‑‑ I'm happy with the way things have gone, but I'm not satisfied if my career ended right now.¬† So all in all, I've got more to do, and I might as well try to do it soon.

Q.  Do you have tickets to the fight?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† There are tickets that if it doesn't go‑‑ I don't plan on being there, but I may be there.

Q.  Along the lines of the question that was asked earlier and how you said you're relatively new to this, but there's no question that the torch is being passed in golf to another generation.  The two guys that you undoubtedly grew up emulating are in a different phase of their career.  Do you get a sense that you're now the guy that people are potentially gunning for?
JORDAN SPIETH:¬† Within the first two weeks after the Masters, yes.¬† Again, Rickie wins the U.S. Open, then you've got three.¬† Then you've got‑‑ in order to have that sense or to keep that sense, I have to keep doing what I've been doing.¬† Yeah, I feel that right now.¬† I like that.¬† I enjoy it.¬† And I want to keep it that way.¬† But it is, again‑‑ I think it's hyped up a little right after the tournament.¬† And that's cool, but I need to keep doing that in order for it to stay that way.
MODERATOR:  Thank you for your time, Jordan, best of luck this week.

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