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July 7, 2015

Jordan Spieth


DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome Jordan Spieth, 2013 John Deere Classic champion. Making your fourth start in the tournament, an additional top 10 finish last year, T7, I believe, and I could sit here and go through your achievements so far this season but you're liable to miss your tee time on Thursday. I will just say on behalf of a lot of people, welcome back. We're really glad you're here.

JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you. Yeah, it's nice to be back here at a place that I'm familiar with and I've had success and some of the best memories I've had on the PGA TOUR. Yeah, it's going to be an exciting week. I'm ready to tee up and get going Thursday. There's a lot of noise that's been going on the last couple weeks, so I'm ready to just get inside the ropes and start playing.

Q. How much of your decision to play here this week is a loyalty to this tournament and how much of it is that you genuinely believe that this is the best place to get you ready for next week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I committed to this event well ahead of time, never really crossed my mind to drop out. I felt like I've played well in the Open Championship the last couple years having played at the John Deere right before and competed. The first year it was on the end of a four-week stretch going over there, and I just ran out of gas, and then last year I just didn't have my best stuff. I didn't even have my best stuff at the John Deere, just kind of got through it, and actually had a strong finish. But it was kind of the middle of a lull at the end of last year where I didn't really play very well. So this year I believe that if I can work myself into contention just as I did in the previous two majors, I don't think it matters where it is, as long as I can get myself in contention, find out how I'm performing, what kind of minor tweaks I need to do, if any, the first couple days at the Open Championship to get ready for the major, then that's the plan. I just want to get in contention here. It doesn't matter where it is. When I get over there, whether I play well or don't play well has nothing to do with what I did the week before. I will certainly have enough energy. I will certainly have enough rest, and I will be as prepared as can be, as I am for any other event, by the time I tee it up at St. Andrews. I'm not worried about any of that, I just want to get myself into contention here so I can find out what tendencies I'm getting into after this break.

Q. Jordan, you've talked all year about how you've set goals for yourself, and I imagine that one of those is get to No. 1. You've never been closer to that carrot, and if, God forbid, Rory cannot play the rest of the summer, it is right there for you for the taking. What does that do for your mindset, for your motivation? Does it change anything?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think the only way that that happens is to focus on each individual event in front of me. The more you look at the big picture of things, the more weight there is on it. I think if I just focus on how can I try and win the golf tournament this week, I'm going to inch my way closer to that ultimate goal. I didn't think at the beginning of the year I would have a chance to get there this year, and there certainly is an opportunity now. I've never been closer, and I think with the points that I have, if it weren't -- if Rory hadn't played the way he's played over the last couple years, I think I would have been No. 1 in a lot of other years other than when Tiger was tearing it up by that number of points. I've certainly played solid enough to be No. 1 in the world a lot of different years, it's just it's a tough position this year given how successful Rory is, and I just need to keep working as hard as I have been and focus on this week and next week and a strong finish for the season because there's a lot of World Ranking points in all of the events coming up.

Q. You've demonstrated your mental toughness since being invited here in 2012, and you've got such expectations that people are placing on you right now. Every time you go to Facebook it's vote for you for the ESPYs or whatever the case may be.
JORDAN SPIETH: I hope you do. (Laughter.)

Q. The idea of you staying emotionally in check and taking one shot at a time, is it harder than ever, or is it just going about your business?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's just going about my business. I actually think it's gotten a little bit easier for me on the course because at the U.S. Open when I was in contention there on the weekend, I was able to just drawback on it a couple months before and say, I've already won one of these; these guys that are in contention here haven't, therefore the pressure is off of me. I'm free rolling. I don't care about the added pressure of can you win multiple in a row or what that could mean for this year, Grand Slam talk. The point is when I'm in contention at a tournament, the only thing on my mind is that tournament and focusing on the situation, which for me at the U.S. Open was, these are first-timers. They are going to be feeling more pressure than I am even though they're more experienced players throughout the years than I am. They don't have the experience of closing out this tournament, a major championship, like I did two months before. So I actually felt like some of it was off of me. I felt like -- and Michael was making me aware of that. He said, these guys -- just go ahead and stay patient. It's going to come to you. You go ahead and take advantage of the easier holes, someone may jump out to a hot start, you may have an off start. The point is if you stick to your game, you may be the one that can possibly close it more or easier because I've already done it. And whether that's true or not, that mental attitude is what really kept us in it right at the very end into 16 and then to rebound after 17. I don't know if that's exactly the way that other people have won majors, but for me that's the formula that worked there was that extra level of patience, along with everything that we did to prepare.

Q. You've been wearing it well, but does it wear on you, the fact that you've got so many people reaching out for so many things that they didn't four months ago?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I mean, time management has certainly gotten harder and harder, and you can't fulfill as many obligations as you want to because you just don't have the time if I still want to play good golf, and I would like to keep on playing good golf. I've got a great management team, and they were prepared for this kind of season. They've been prepared for this season for a couple years. That's why I signed with them, and they've made things extremely easy on me in getting things done and certainly fulfilling some obligations with still being able to prepare.

Q. Jack, Tiger, Arnie, Ben Hogan, have you processed the company you're in right now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think it's cool. I've certainly seen it. I've paid a little bit of attention to it, yeah. It's pretty awesome. I don't take it for granted. I'm not just throwing it out the window. But to then have an opportunity to get to a level where you would only include one name, and that's Ben Hogan, that would be pretty cool, and then maybe zero names after that. There's an opportunity to actually be in a different category in a single season. If I can somehow stay with those names for years to come versus just this season, that's when it's really, really going to set in and be extremely cool. It's great temporarily, it's nice, but it's not like it's anything easy to keep going with these guys. These guys continue to have seasons like this year in and year out, and that's something -- I realize how hard it is this year. So to keep that focus and to keep that preparation and hard work, you know, I only hope that I continue to have the desire I have now. I don't see it going away, but you need a lot of good breaks, too.

Q. In honor of Shark Week, could you tell us about your close encounter with the shark?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, yeah, we went on a trip a couple weekends ago to the Bahamas with some friends, first time I've ever been down there, and went out on a boat for a day and did some snorkeling and whatnot, and on the way back we threw in a couple of lines. It wasn't even a fishing boat. There was no chair or anything, but they had the belt, and just to see if we'd catch anything. They're like, do you want to go the scenic route or the route that might catch a hog. We said, well, we already went the scenic round out there, so let's go back the other way. We hooked on a tuna, and I was hooked on a tuna for about 45 minutes to an hour. It was a big tuna, and then these little sharks were coming in trying to get a piece of it, and the captain was scaring them off banging on the boat and on the water, and all of a sudden it just rips back down again. I almost got pulled in. And it was so much heavier, and I was just like, wait, these fish must have seen the sharks and just tried to avoid them. I found some extra strength or whatever. So we worked on it again. So in total it was two and a half hours. I had to take a break. My arm couldn't move anymore. I couldn't move my arm. It was, like, shaking when I held it up. So I had the captain had to come in for about five minutes while a took a bathroom break, and I came back, took it back from him, so in total it was two and a half hours, and what surfaced was like a 12-foot long, 300-pound black tip shark that had eaten this tuna and then had hooked itself, so I guess I caught both in one because I got that shark. But there was no room for the fish and dames on the back of the boat so we couldn't pull it on, so the captain technically grabbed the line where it's considered landing the fish, let go of it quickly, and then we let some string and it whipped the hook out. We were just going to cut it anyways. It was pretty cool. It was a cool experience. I've never had something like that.

Q. So the competitive side of you never once in that two and a half hours did you consider just letting --
JORDAN SPIETH: No. A couple of my friends were like, I'll take over. I'm like, you bet your ass you're not taking over. This is my fish. (Laughter.) There's no way you're stepping on this. You're going to lose it. I let the captain do it because he's used to fishing. No, the competitive side of me, I didn't want to give up until I actually couldn't move my arm anymore and then just needed about five minutes of shaking it, and came back, and it was sore for a couple days, but I'm good now.

Q. We were told at Women's Day the other day that you're deathly afraid of sharks.
JORDAN SPIETH: I am. I'm very, very much afraid of sharks. I don't like them. They're not cool. I do like Shark Week, though. I really enjoy Shark Week.

Q. What was the story about his Nerds?
JORDAN SPIETH: His Nerds? You mean the ones that he keeps on finding in the bag week to week that are out of the packaging and he still eats them?

Q. Yes.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It's not just Nerds, he does that with everything.

Q. You talked about it earlier, the off-the-course chatter about your situation right now on your quest to win the Grand Slam. How are you dealing with that and how difficult is it to deal with that right now?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm focusing on this and trying to get another one of these. I have one of these at my house, and certainly there's room for another. That's probably the easiest way. Again, it's just whenever I'm inside the ropes or I'm working on my game, it's not hard to forget about it, and then just kind of staying off my phone a little bit and using it less and less. I don't think it hurts me with the chatter, but I don't think there's any reason to pay attention to it, given that I haven't for the first half of this year, and it's gone pretty well, so I may as well just keep the same routine. I'm just trying to do exactly what I've been doing. I love golf, so it's hard for me to be away from seeing golf or watching the end of a tournament, hearing chatter that way. You know, I love the sport, so it's hard to be off of it completely, but I'm trying to limit it and just stick to the game plan.

Q. How about all the extra attention from fans? Has it become a little overwhelming that you've become such a star of the sport so quickly?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it's a little bit tough for me because I was so used to signing everything I can and taking the time, and now I can't. I can't get to everything. I try and get to as many kids as possible, and there's a lot of -- there's sellers and then there's also guys who are genuine guys that you can mistake for it. I don't mean to ever leave people hanging, but now with the size of crowds and everything, I wouldn't be able to get what I would need to get done to be ready for a tournament if I did take that entire time. It's easy after a round, after you play a round because you don't have anything the rest of the day. But during my practice and, you know, like walking from the putting green to the range today, there's a lot of upset fans, and oh, you won't even sign this. Well, I can't. I mean, I try to explain it, but you try and get as many as you can, as many kids as you walk through, but I mean, you'd be there for 30, 45 minutes at a time a lot of times, and then you guys request me in here, so I have to come in here. There's just a lot of other obligations, so it's tough. It is tough. But at the same time these crowds, it's unbelievable to see the support. It's cool to see the Under Armour hats on these kids and yelling out -- and when I'm on the course, it'll be awesome here this week because they're the nicest people in the world and some of the best fans. At the U.S. Open it was incredible hearing -- even though the fans weren't really allowed to get anywhere near us on the holes, it was cool to hear the roars and cool to hear the support that was shouted at me and Michael. It's growing, and certainly we're able to ride some of that momentum, and it's very helpful, and I think it's awesome.

Q. There are a lot of people who think you shouldn't be here, but can you talk about why this commitment is important to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I don't think it's that I'm -- I don't think I'm here strictly because I'm honoring commitment. I'm here -- if I thought that I wasn't going to play well next week because I played here, it would be a different story. I probably wouldn't be here. I think that this is a good preparation for me to get good feels, to get in contention, and to find out what's on and what's off when I'm in contention. The only downside here versus playing anywhere else is just the adjustment to the time zone, but as long as I get over there and I have my schedule ahead of time, I'm going to have enough sleep by the time I tee it up Thursday. So it's not really much of an issue to have three full days to get over a six-hour time change. It's not like you're going 13 hours to Asia. It's just six hours. It's not that bad. I'm here because I believe I can win this week. I believe that it's advantageous for me to try and win this week and to get any kind of momentum I can or continue the momentum that I can into the Open Championship.

Q. How special is Clair Peterson to this tournament and the relationships that you've built here over the last couple years?
JORDAN SPIETH: Incredible. I think this tournament is, one the most special things it does is it gives the younger players a chance. It gives the older players trying to come back a chance, and given the timing, they're able to do that more than some other events. I do understand that. But still, Clair and his team, they still take advantage of that opportunity by finding top amateurs, college players, guys like me three years ago or even guys that are trying to come back that were injured for a couple years, whatever it is, and really give them a good shot at coming back to a golf course that you can make some birdies. It's an exciting week with a great fan base. They recognize that and give these guys a chance. I think it's really cool. Clair and his team, they've been great friends of mine for a number of years now, and I just couldn't thank him enough. This tournament has truly launched my career to a different level, and those memories I don't forget.

Q. You're basking in the glow of having this honeymoon with fans and the media and everything else, but when you take a look at sports fans, they can be pretty hard, and when a baseball player gets hurt in a motorcycle accident, Rory gets hurt playing soccer, sports people will say why isn't this person focusing on golf, why are they doing this other stuff. Can you talk about that balance of wanting to be successful in golf and having a life outside of golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It is a little bit tricky, I guess. I don't hold back. Everybody needs to have a life, too. I played basketball against Michael a few weeks ago one-on-one. I do think every day you could get hurt. Sometimes there's accidents that happen. There's nothing -- I wouldn't change anything I'm doing based on anything that's happened. People get hurt skiing. I think skiing is something that I probably won't do because that's something that you continue to hear injuries from, but I'm a sports fanatic. I love to play, watch, whatever it is. I don't change anything in my life. I don't change much in my life other than a couple things that are -- you obviously are a little more cautious of, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it, and it's just sometimes there's fluke accidents, and as far as with Rory, it's just -- we want him back. Everybody does. It's unlucky, it's unfortunate, and I'm sure he's taking it harder on himself than anybody else. But I don't think he did anything wrong, it just was an unfortunate situation, and hopefully he rebounds quickly and gets back right to where he was.

DOUG MILNE: Jordan, as always, we appreciate your time. Good luck this week.
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