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July 15, 2015

Jordan Spieth


THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. We'll make a start. I'm very pleased to welcome the 2015 Masters and 2015 U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth to the interview room. Jordan, thank you for joining us this morning. It's been an incredible year for you so far. What would it mean to you to win The Open this week and lift the Claret Jug?

JORDAN SPIETH: It would be amazing. It would be something I'd never forget. I've watched The Open Championships here at St. Andrews, and I don't think there's anything more special in golf than playing an Open Championship at the Home of Golf. I have fond memories from playing here a few years back, vivid memories, one of those courses you play where you don't really forget much. There's only a couple of those maybe in the world. I think here and at Augusta National are my two favourite places in the world, and I've really enjoyed our time getting back here, even in a shortened week. I still got a lot of holes in, and our preparation is almost complete, and I feel really good about last week heading into here, and over the past couple months heading into here. All in all, I'm extremely excited. It would mean the world to me to try and win this championship and to do it here would be even more special.

Q. You've obviously got the chance to equal Ben Hogan's record this week of winning the season's first three majors. How aware are you of the fact that you stand on the brink of a really special piece of history?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, I'm aware. I like to study the history of golf, and I think it's extremely special what this year has brought to our team and to have a chance to do what only one other person in the history of golf has done doesn't come around very often. I'm sure embracing that opportunity, but by the time I start on Thursday, it won't be in my head. It'll be about how can I bring this Open Championship down to just another event, get out there and try and get myself into contention. But I am certainly aware of it.

Q. So much of The Open Championship is dependent upon weather. You've looked at the forecast. How frustrating is it for a golfer to have something out of your control when you're trying to do something special?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's fun. We don't come over here to get -- if we wanted to get good weather we'd go play in California. We come over here because we want to embrace the opportunity of handling these conditions. I understand that there's a possibility for a lot of this tournament to be dependent on the draw the first two days, at least for a few strokes. It doesn't mean you can't make it up if you get the bad end of it, but it will be harder. Nobody is going to know what that is here because it changes hourly. Going into it, you have to be as positive as can be. It looks like tomorrow morning will be pretty nice conditions to get this tournament started, so there's a little bit of pressure getting off to a good start given the way that Friday and Saturday look, no doubt about that. But Friday looks like it's going to be brutal for everybody. Looks like rain and wind in the morning and then extreme winds in the afternoon so I don't really have a preference on which one I'd rather see. Obviously everybody would like it to be equal for everyone, but that's part of the challenge. That's part of the week this week. You're going to get some shots that you hit good with these rolling hills that may kick into a pot bunker or you get a gust of wind where it blows it toward a bunker. It's how do you handle that adversity and rebound quickly. But going into it, I certainly am trying to look at it as positively as possible because I don't feel like there's any other way to go about it.

Q. I remember two years ago when you came over as the last man in. I think you had to virtually come over just in the clothes that you were in because you didn't have time to pack. You told me then how excited you were to be in The Open. Could you have thought then how much things would change for you in the two years, and now you come in as one of the favourites?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I couldn't have thought it back then. When I played at Muirfield, which is still to this day one of my favourite courses and one of my favourite tournaments I've ever played, I got into contention there on Saturday and started to make a little move, and I remember almost thinking like that was too big for me at the time in a way. I felt like I wanted to compete, I loved the pressure and I felt like I could do it, but it was a position I'd never been in and it was an odd feeling being in contention in a major on a weekend. It was brief. I didn't finish well that round. But it was enough to where now in the position I'm in sitting here today, I certainly feel like that's where I want to be. That's where I expect myself to be versus feeling odd in that position. There's certainly a difference in the way that I would feel contending in a major now having contended in a few and won a couple. Yeah, it's very different. I don't think I could have imagined sitting here this soon. I certainly wanted to at some point, but it's pretty cool to be here this early and to have the opportunities we have going forward.

Q. It came a lot quicker than you would have thought?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think as far as -- obviously I imagined it and wished that it was possible. I just wasn't sure how I'd be able to handle the Masters this year leading all four rounds and being able to close it out. You don't sleep well on the lead in a major, and so to do it for a few days and still continue to play the best golf I've ever played and putt the best I've ever putted, that gave me a lot of confidence, and really that tournament right there established, hey, we can do this going forward in each one if we get the chance. We've done it before, why can't we do it again?

Q. A question from Australia, so it's about your coach. What kind of role has he played in your success in the last six months, and the subtle changes that he's trying to instill in you for this week playing a golf course like this?
JORDAN SPIETH: Nothing different from when we started eight, nine years ago now. Since being on Tour, it's helped because each shot is dissected now. You can find more in-depth statistics versus me trying to keep my own, and I would never actually bring him my own from the college events and whatever, so it was a little hard for him to figure out at the end of the season where do I need to improve or even during the season. So each year we sit down and we look at a game plan on what -- not that we need to focus more on, but what do we need to look at maybe more in depth and make slight adjustments to for the year going forward. This year I needed to improve on my putting inside 10 feet. I needed to improve on putting in general by spending more time and finding maybe different drills that we're comfortable with to get my mind wrapped around where I'm lined up and what stroke feels good, and that's worked really well. This week we've been working a lot on really controlling trajectories with my approach shots, being able to be comfortable hitting a punch shot in case it's 40 mile-an-hour winds into you as well as hitting the high ball into the greens if you need to get to a pin that doesn't have much room to work with. I think controlling your trajectory as well as still having tight starting lines is the most important part about attacking this golf course off the tee and into the greens. That's the adjustments we've made here is just a variety of different shots. But as far as anything that we've changed in the last six months that's created this year, it's just been a building block from when I started with him. He's, I believe, the best coach in the world, and he works as hard as anybody or harder, and I have full and complete trust. I wouldn't be here without him.

Q. There's obviously a lot of chatter about you not coming over here early, but you get a win. There must be some other positives that you've seen in arriving late, perhaps less fanfare or what have you, or anything else that you've seen that's been good for you to get here late?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not necessarily, other than going to a place I was familiar with, I could get in contention and get the right feels. I don't think anybody is going to argue with a win, and that was what we set out to do last week, to feel the pressure, see what the -- the whole point was to try and feel pressure over the weekend and try and perform my best, see what tendencies I got into that we could adjust for major championship pressure, and that's exactly what we did. That was the game plan. I'm happy that it worked out. We came out with a win, which is even better, and no, I don't necessarily think there's any more advantages to arriving late. I think coming over earlier certainly could have helped. I just liked the fact that I could go somewhere where I could play hard and possibly win a PGA Tour event in preparation. But certainly more time on this golf course couldn't ever hurt anybody.

Q. Part of your preparation for coming to the Old Course this week was to be in a video simulator. How valuable was that for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: It was valuable. I have a full swing golf simulator at my house and I was playing with some buddies and I figured why not play the Old Course since we're heading there. It was cool to see some of the start lines, but it's still not the same as being here and preparing. I'm in no way saying that that's what I did to prepare for this Open. It was fun and it certainly was -- again, it didn't hurt to see those -- just because it's so realistic, you can see kind of the start lines where you need to hit it over shots, but then you get out here and it could change very much depending on the wind. The course was a lot easier with 68 degrees and no breeze coming out of the air-conditioner in that room, so I got over here, and the real preparation really started. I think we've done a lot of good work. We played 18 holes late into the evening on Monday when we got here, and then I played a loop of I think 10 holes yesterday, the 10 holes I really wanted to see, and I'll play another full round today. I think that's more golf than I usually play going into a tournament that I haven't played the golf course before, but at the same time, this one is a little more tricky, so I feel like it's necessary.

Q. More of a lifestyle question here. I know you've been passionate about volunteering at your sister's school. I'd just be interested to know when was the last time you were able to go along and help, and if it's been a while, is that one of the frustrations that's come with your success, that you haven't been able to dedicate as much time as you would like to other things?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I haven't -- I went into her class -- I was her grandparent on grandparents' day, whenever that was, earlier in the year. That's the last time I've been in her class. Sure, it's frustrating. You don't have the time you do in high school to go in there. But any time I'm home I'm spending time with Ellie. I take her to school, pick her up, spend time at my parents house or she'll come over and hang out, my whole family will. When I'm home, I like to spend as much time as I can with my family because we're on the road so much, and I'm fortunate that I live five minutes from them, and it's very easy when I am home. But yeah, I think, sure, I don't exactly have the same schedule as I did back when I lived there full-time, lived there and went to school there, but I knew that that change was coming, and sure, I am embracing it and wouldn't change the position I'm at for anything. But that is one of certainly the hardships is less time seeing the people that you love and care about.

Q. Tell us about grandparents' day?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, my grandparents weren't able to make it down for a day or two because they live -- one in North Carolina and the other is in Pennsylvania, so I just went in there and I was just there to support her and hang out. I was picking her up, I went in early and they had a little party and got to meet some of her friends in her new class, and yeah, it was fun.

Q. You talked about at Chambers Bay going down to the end that you reminded yourself that you had already had a major, you've done this, the other guys haven't and that kind of carried you on. It almost sounds like when you come here, it might be just as important to forget that you won the first two just because of the significance of the third? Can you see that?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, not necessarily. I think there are advantages and disadvantages. I think that it's an advantage if I can do kind of the same thing I did -- if I get into a position where guys are trying to get their first major. That pressure is different than after you've already been there. It's certainly still there. It's not like I wasn't feeling anything at Chambers Bay. But I think I can certainly draw back on the first two majors. When I draw back on those I'm not putting on added pressure to try and win three in a row. I don't think of those other two majors as being in a row this year, I just think of them as tournaments that I've won that are of the same calibre. Whether they were a year, three years ago doesn't cross my mind when I draw on those feelings. I just draw on similar feelings when I'm approaching a 9-iron. Hey, how can you be patient with this shot knowing that this is a major and emotions are heightened and guys that are vying for their first one are feeling it even more than you, that means wearing them out with greens and wearing them out with mid-range putting, which is really my strength. Just draw on your strengths. I think I can certainly look back on the other two because when I step on the tee Thursday, I don't look as this as trying to win three in a row, I look at this as trying to win The Open Championship at a very special place. That's the hardest thing for me is trying to forget about where you are because being here at St. Andrews and looking at the past champions and who wins Open Championships here, that's elite company, and that's something I'm just going to have to forget about more than the other two majors, I think.

Q. When you started the season your focus was on the majors. What were some of the changes you made in terms of trying to peak for each one?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it's similar to last year. A little bit different in that there wasn't a certain game plan on where I play before or don't play before. Three of the majors I play the week before, and the U.S. Open I don't. It didn't make a difference there this year. Some of the changes that we looked at were physically where am I building my strength up to then kind of coast through the major. So in training what am I doing to get my weight right in order to maintain it through the major championships, where my best playing weight is. It's not exactly like boxing but it certainly helps if I am at full strength and have enough stamina and I can tell the difference certain weeks. It's also stuff I'm working on with Cameron, different go-to ball flights to then play other shots off of it. We know specifics on what we need to work on for Augusta National. We know specifics that we need to work on based on where the U.S. Open is held, and over here it certainly plays different than those two, and the PGA, we still haven't figured out. We've missed the cut two years in a row, so maybe we'll try and figure that one out this year. At least for the other three, I feel like we have a good strategy going in, in all parts of my game.

Q. Growing up you had to be appreciating the talents of Tiger Woods and how much he was under the microscope. Can you share with us a little bit about are you gaining a greater respect for what Tiger had to do because of your position now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think the parallels that are drawn between me and Tiger are unfair. I think that that's not something that in my mind is necessary. I think that's something that people are looking for but is not there with anybody right now because it's something I don't think that can be compared until at least midway through their career. This is an early timetable. When people ask me about those kind of parallels I try and shake it off because it's not the same. I'm extremely happy with where I've been and how we've been able to compete and win early and win a couple majors at my age, but at the same time, I certainly have an appreciation for how Tiger could continue and continue and continue to keep winning majors at just an unbelievable percentage of the amount that he played in because it's not easy. It's very challenging. You have to be at the top of your game and the top of your mental game. All the skills have to be there, and for him to consistently do it is a completely different level that nobody that I think is playing right now has seen that. Obviously Jack coming before and Arnie and Hogan, that's the category that you should be paralleling. I don't think anybody right now it's fair to do that.

Q. You won wire to wire at Augusta and then you really battled it out for the last two wins. I wonder if you sense that seeing your name on the leaderboard is starting to intimidate your rivals?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know. I don't look like an intimidating person (laughter), so -- I don't hit the ball the furthest, which I think is one of the reasons Tiger intimidated people so much is he was the longest and the straight he's, but we find a way to get it in the hole. I don't know, I couldn't speak for what others think. I can't imagine that because I don't feel intimidated by anybody, and I feel like if the name of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, whoever it is, is up at the top of the leaderboard, I would be loving to embrace that challenge to knock them off. I feel like anyone that's here to compete to win this championship is feeling that. I doubt it, but I'm not sure.

Q. You are paired with Hideki once again. What's it like playing with him?
JORDAN SPIETH: I enjoy playing with Hideki. It's a comfortable pairing. He hits the ball long, straight. He's a really good putter and he's very methodical. He's got all the shots. I've watched him play these low shots that he needs out here. I've watched him hit it to the moon. He's a player that is certainly on the watch list to win this championship and somebody I'm happy I'm paired with to compete against in our group. We have a good relationship, he and Shindo, and enjoyed our time together even when we went to Japan. We had a good battle with him and certainly plenty in the States, as well. Yeah, I enjoy -- I got a really nice pairing this week I'm very happy about, and Hideki is one of the great young players in the game, and he'll win plenty of majors, I believe, before he's done.

Q. Can we play a quick one-round version of the word association game?

Q. Ben Hogan?
JORDAN SPIETH: Texas. Yeah, I think of his golf swing, I think of him being the guy that would head to the right side of the range so his back is to everybody else, focused on his own game, focused on himself and how he's playing the course. Obviously, extremely discipline. I've read a lot about Ben Hogan and certainly he's one of the few guys that I idolize his game and his attitude on the golf course. It's cool that he's also Texas bred and everybody highly respects he and Byron Nelson as two of the biggest names from the state of Texas that are some of the greatest men and players to ever play the game.

Q. We're all very struck by how grounded you are and have been throughout this remarkable season so far. Do you sense that this might be a challenge to kind of remain that way if this success continues?
JORDAN SPIETH: Why is that? Why should I change?

Q. Because you're going to receive ever more attention.
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think that changes a person. I think that it changes the amount of time that you have, and maybe that gives some people the wrong idea if you don't have time for people that you've been able to make time for in the past. But that's just part of the extra attention, and you've got to pick your spots to still be comfortable to do what I love. Since I love to play the game of golf, I want to be as best prepared for tournaments, and so I now may not be able to give as much time elsewhere. But no, I don't think that anything should change about a person based on their success and what they do, whatever it is. I figure we've gotten where we are right now from who our team has been now; why should our entire personality change? It's been working, so may as well keep it that way.

Q. For you what has been the trickiest part of arriving Monday being one of the last players to get here, and was there anything that you learned making that trek from Australia to play in Tiger's tournament that following week that's been helpful?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I can draw on that. The toughest part here is just the time change, and it's only six hours. It's not like you're going to Asia where you normally need a couple days to even be able to wake up. I got up at 7:30 fine this morning, which it felt maybe like 4:30 or something to me by this point, but it wasn't too bad. I'm sleeping just fine, adjusting to jet lag great. By tomorrow morning I'll be 100 per cent, which we knew ahead of time, or else I wouldn't have played last week if I didn't think I would be 100 per cent by the time we started here. Just the hardest part is definitely jet lag and probably the fact that we've had perfect weather playing this golf course, so it seems a little easier than I think it'll play. So I would have liked to see tougher conditions in practice rounds to get used to prevailing winds and wind switches. But that's part of the fun and the adjustment. I think I can draw back on Australia to Tiger's event because it was a shortened week. It was a place I had played but I hadn't played in quite a while, and I was bringing great feels from the week before, and that's what we set out to do here. I'd like the same outcome that happened at Isleworth, but it would probably be a little bit harder to do here with a full field versus 30 guys. And maybe a slightly bigger stage. But I think there are certain things I can draw on from there, yes.

Q. Tiger said he would learn a lot from playing with experienced players when he first came to play the Old Course. I was wondering about who you were planning on playing with today?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure yet. I talked to Matt Jones in the locker room. He's a buddy of mine. I don't think he has a ton of experience here, but he'd be fun to play a round with. I played with Ryan Palmer and Ollie Schniederjans yesterday. Who did I play with the first day? We played by ourselves late and ended up talking with Tiger for a little bit on 16 green. He was practising there and just talked to him for about 10 minutes, but very briefly about the course, more just catching up. So yeah, I don't know. I think in my views of travelling to tournaments, and I would trust Tiger's point of view probably more than mine, he has plenty more experience doing this, but in my views I've seen a tendency for us to sometimes overanalyze, and so we've been trying to just dissect it on our own with Cameron and me and Michael. We've done a really good job of figuring out where the pin locations are going to be. Cameron has talked to guys that have given him the pins for the past two or three majors that were held here, so we've got all those locations. We've kind of plotted our way already, and today will be a good test on really just executing on the lines that we've all gotten over the past couple days. I think we could overanalyze this course, and I don't think we are doing so. I think simple is better, go off of the same feels we've had, just try and execute fairway, green, and get into a rhythm. I think there will be certain points in this tournament where I'll hit it in spots that I wish I knew were better spots to hit to, but that'll probably happen for everybody. Hopefully I can make up for it.

Q. You've displayed phenomenal mental strength under intense pressure. Do you know where this strength comes from within you? Is it something that you've learned or is it something you've got from family, or can you pinpoint where that strength comes from?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. It's mainly just visualisation. Yeah, I think it certainly comes from how I've been raised and who my parents are and the competitiveness that I had with my brother growing up in all kinds of sports and playing against him. He was bigger than me from when we were about seven years old, so we liked to play one-on-one in any sport that was played and created competitors out of us. I would also draw it to Cameron and his aim small, miss small philosophy where the more pressure you feel in the heat of the moment, the smaller of a target that you can pick, your misses are going to be smaller. If you just -- it's easy for your mind to just see a fairway and have your mind wander to how can I just hit this fairway, and am I 2-up now, I just need to par, versus let's stripe a drive right at the left tree branch on that tree, and chances are if our swing is where we want it to be, it won't miss that mark by much, and I think that goes back to when I get in those positions, that's what comes to my mind is how can I zero in even more and more and more. It's worked out tremendously. That's Cameron's mental approach, and it works for me, and I just go off of then past experiences of the patience it takes to end up winning a tournament because those Sundays often feel like two or three rounds combined into one.

THE MODERATOR: Jordan, thank you very much. Best of luck this week.
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