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July 19, 2015

Jordan Spieth


MIKE WOODCOCK: I'm very pleased to welcome Jordan Spieth to the interview room. Jordan, a 6-under-par 66 today. That gets you right into contention going into tomorrow's final round. How pleased were you to just come back this afternoon and produce such a good round?

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, very pleased. Yesterday was -- well, I say yesterday; the combination of Friday and Saturday was a really, really tough round to play with time and conditions. I still left a lot of chances out there. I don't normally putt the way I did, so I put some extra work into it yesterday before I went out, and then before I even went through my normal practice, I was out early putting today trying to find out what it was and just putted a little bit better today. I feel a little more connected in my swing. I didn't really miss a shot yesterday, and the holes that we did play, so really 15 on, I didn't miss a shot. I felt great on the range. I felt more connected in my swing, struck the ball very pure, better than I have this whole week leading up, and then I got out today and it was more of the same on the range, so I struck it extremely well on that front nine, had a lot of chances, and to shoot 2-under was actually some pretty poor putting, to shoot 2-under. It just continued. But the one on 7 was a big putt for me, that birdie, to find out exactly what it was. I just had been aligned a little left. Every putt was missing just a little off the left side of the hole, so I just tried to adjust, and by the time we got to 10, 11 there, I had made the adjustment, so that back nine was -- when you turn and come into the wind, it's not exactly easy, and so to shoot 4-under with no bogeys on the back was a great comeback from really Friday, Saturday and the front nine today. So yeah I'm very pleased with putting myself in position. I'll probably be two or three back I imagine and going to need to shoot a similar round. Just depends on the conditions. But really happy to at least get back into it.

Q. Jordan, you said yesterday as many golfers would, I can still win, even after the sort of mediocre round. Is that a combination of your confidence and knowing the history of golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think so. I think it's a combination of being far enough back through two rounds before, seeing others do it. In two rounds you can really get it going if you didn't feel like you had gotten it going yet, and that front nine on the first day was as good a golf as I've played out here, and then for the next 27 holes, I was even par. That's poor if you want to win. It's okay if you want to just play decent. But in order to win, you have to play better golf in this 27-hole stretch, and then picked it up on the 1st today and just struck the ball beautifully to give myself enough chances to at least be under par, and then once the putts started going, I could take it deeper and deeper. I had the feeling it was there. It was there in the practice rounds, and it was there last week, to get to whatever I was at, 19- or 20-under last week. You've got to be doing something right. So I kind of just wanted to stay patient today, let them come to me, and once I figured out my putting, it did. Yeah, I believe when I was standing with you yesterday that a day like today could happen, but in order to win you've got to duplicate it.

Q. I'm curious, the last couple of days what you learned from all the conditions that you had, and then coming into today a lot more benign and then being able to -- having been in this situation a few times now, how much does that help going into tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's, I think, typical Scotland we've seen the last couple days. You can get some beautiful weather, beautiful scene last night coming in to close, same with the first day when we were finishing up after the delay. It was just absolutely beautiful coming in on the last few holes, and then you've got some wicked weather where you just want to go home. That's just what I understand from Scottish weather the few times I've been over here, and it's kind of cool to see it all. The last two Open Championships, especially Muirfield, you wouldn't have thought you were in the UK, and then this year we're seeing a little more teeth in the weather. I think tomorrow is going to be a little more of it. I think tomorrow is forecasted a little bit breezier, and we've got a good chance of rain in the afternoon for the leaders, so there will be some people shooting low scores in the morning it looks like and then guys that have to make birdies in the afternoon to keep it going. For me, my mind is strictly and solely on setting a goal for tomorrow and putting the right mental approach to our round, setting the right expectations given the conditions, and see if we can just go get the job done again.

Q. Jordan, the saying do or do not, there is no try, how does that translate to this week and this tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I mean, at this point it's free rolling. I'm going to play to win, and I'm not playing to -- I'm not playing for a place. I don't want to place third tomorrow. I want to win. And so I'm going to play my game, obviously with patience, to stay in the mix, if it's not all there at the beginning, and if it is, I'm going to continue to play that way to try and get out in front. It's going to be hard. I highly doubt somebody really breaks through in the pack tomorrow given this golf course can yield a lot of birdies, so it'll be a pretty bunched leaderboard, so it's just giving myself as many chances as I can. But as far as do or do not, you've just got to zero in on the target and pull off the shot. If you don't pull off the shot and you end up in a tough spot, then that was bad execution. But for me to win tomorrow probably coming from behind a couple shots on a course where you need birdies, I'm going to have to play aggressive golf.

Q. How much of a different feeling do you have going into this one having won the first two majors? Is there a different level of confidence for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Maybe just a little more comfort, a little more -- like the word I used, free rolling is the one that Michael likes to use with me. There's really no downside. If we have a chance to win and we don't execute tomorrow, then we're going to be okay. And with that attitude, it actually frees me up a little bit to say I can take these extra chances. Maybe just a little more comfort tonight in my sleep. It's always hard to sleep near or with the lead in the last round of a major championship, but it's been a long week here so far. I think this extra day has given me extra time to adjust and extra shots to hit, putts to hit out here. I think it only plays a little more into my hands after a short week, what I thought was going to be a short week. So yeah, I think I'm going in with plenty of confidence and a higher comfort level.

Q. For those who don't follow golf that closely, can you describe the differences between Chambers Bay and the Old Course?
JORDAN SPIETH: They're extremely different. Chambers Bay you didn't have to manage the conditions around. You didn't have to manage the atmosphere, the weather. It was not really going to be windy. It may be a little cool in the morning, but it was links style golf where you need to play as if you're playing in California. I mean, you can hit it to the moon. You've got to bring it in with high trajectory to carry the false fronts and get the ball to -- you need the landing to be higher whereas this is more imaginative golf in your tee to green. Around the greens, you needed imagination with both for sure, but as far as tee to green, they're extremely different. That was a long golf course, wider fairways. Here you've got to split pot bunkers. There if you hit it in the bunkers, you could hit the greens. Off the tee it was, I think, an easier golf course at Chambers, and into the greens you could hit it up in the air. Here you have to manage the conditions around you. You still need imagination on both green surfaces given the amount of slope and the crazy slopes that there are. But it's more just the type of ball flight needed and the type of golf, but you see some similarities in the leaderboard. I think that given they're only a month apart, it's just people that are playing good golf, kind of on their game. I don't think it's more the golf courses are better for certain people. I think it's just if you're on your game, you're on your game, and you're splitting fairways and you're hitting greens.

Q. Just human nature being what it is, it would seem just a lot easier said than done trying to block out the historical magnitude of what you're trying to achieve, so how specifically do you do that and not let it impact your golf tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. It hasn't come up in my head while I've been playing yet. I can't speak for tomorrow given it's the last round, and if I have a chance coming down the stretch, if it creeps in, I'll embrace it. I'll embrace the opportunity that presents itself. As far as handling it, I don't look at it as a negative thing, I look at it almost as an advantage. Why should it add more pressure in a negative way? If it adds more pressure, it just makes me feel like this is something that's a little more special, let's go ahead and get the job done. I know it's easier said than done, but when you say added pressure, most people associate that with negativity or something that can hinder what's comfortable. For me, I think it could be advantageous. You hit the ball a little bit further, you can really get your mind around a more specific target and block out other things. I haven't had it creep into my head yet. I don't think it will because I'll solely be focusing on how can I win this golf tournament, who's around me, what holes do they have left, do I need to birdie the next couple or do I need to play to where I have a chance for birdie but par at worst. I think there's enough going on on this golf course and especially if the conditions are tough that there's enough for me to battle in my head anyways that the rest of the stuff won't come in until maybe the last hole or so.

Q. What is your take on the magnitude of what you are trying to accomplish tomorrow, and just as a follow, when you were younger and watching Tiger try to do these things, were there realistic thoughts in your mind that this is something you'd be chasing in a few years down the line?
JORDAN SPIETH: What are my thoughts on the magnitude? I see it as something that's only been done once before, and it was a long time ago. I think that to be in that category of having done something that you love to do and that you're doing for your life, only one person has ever done it before, that opportunity very rarely comes around, and I'd like to have a chance to do something nobody has ever done, and so if I think about it that way, then I just want it a little bit more tomorrow, to be able to try and go into the last major and accomplish something that's never been done in our sport is something that only comes around to a couple people ever, and I'd like to be one of those people to have that happen. That's just going to go into my fight tomorrow. I'm also going to have to manage that, and that'll go into my fight ahead of time. Once I get inside the ropes, we're just going to have our game plan and be ready to go. But I do recognise what's at stake, and for me to accomplish that feat is going to be to simplify things and to just go about our business.

Q. You talked about a game plan. Does that include looking at the leaderboard on every hole, or what stage --
JORDAN SPIETH: I probably won't do much board watching tomorrow. I've never felt it to be good for me. I think everyone is different. I think some people it does help, but Michael will do some on the back nine to see obviously if things go incredibly well then it'll change our game plan up on the last couple holes, but most likely it won't, so I don't need to look at the board, I need to look at my yardage book and figure out where I need to hit it to have the best chance to make birdie. I won't do a whole lot of scoreboard watching. The strategy at hand is setting the expectations the right way, looking at the pins ahead of time, looking at where we want to place the tee shots to have the best angles because it's about angles out here, and especially if conditions kick up you don't want to be in any tough spots where big numbers come into play, so limit the mistakes, watch my speed control. It needs to get better putting. I saved myself on a couple putts today. All in all, that's what goes into the game plan.

Q. You've had seven days here now. How much better do you know this course now than when you got here, and how specifically do you think that will help you tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: A lot better. A lot better than the first -- so many tee shots are blind, and I know how the ball is reacting a little bit more. I still get in holes like No. 5 tee box, and I'm like, hey, Mike, where is the furthest right and where is the furthest left you can go, where should I hit this, I still have those moments here just because I haven't had a ton of rounds on the course. But once we pick it back out, I visualise shots I've hit either in the tournament or practice rounds down those lines, and then that's the shot that I need to play at that time. I certainly know it a lot better. The speed of the greens have changed here and there each day, and I need to maybe make a little quicker adjustment with those, but all in all, yeah, each day I'm just learning a little bit more.

Q. Jordan, how surprised or not surprised are you that in such a major professional tournament we've got two young amateurs, one from Ireland and one from America, right up there in the top six?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would say I'm not extremely surprised. I think in years to come, you're going to see more and more of it. The amateur game has changed to be more like the professional game in the way that there's more tournaments, there's better golf courses, harder golf courses and better competition. That's what I felt like when I was playing junior golf into amateur golf. It was almost a mini-PGA Tour. By a mini-PGA Tour, it's just less events in junior golf, then you play a little more in college and amateur golf, and then you come out on Tour and step it up another level. But they're still playing -- there's some great players. There's guys that -- there will be an amateur that wins a PGA event or something like that, possibly even a major, I think, at some point in the next decade or so just because the game in amateur golf across the world now I think is getting more diverse and more intense, and I think it's awesome for guys to step up and do this.

Q. They seem so calm.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I haven't seen any of it this week, but I've certainly experienced it, whether myself or through others in majors. Not me in majors as an amateur, but seeing other guys do it. There's just no fear. They're just coming in with no fear and being able to really settle in. I think getting off to a good start is really important for amateurs playing in a professional tournament, just given, they're like, okay, well, now it's a new situation, now I've managed what happened, now I know I can do this, and I think that's what these guys did, they got off to a good start, and from there they know they can attack the course. To me it's not much of a surprise. I think it's awesome. I think it's an incredible experience in order to have that confidence once they do decide to turn pro if they decide to turn pro, and we certainly expect them to make a run tomorrow and don't consider them really falling off at all. I think it just adds to the amount of guys you have to beat.

Q. You mentioned the sleep you're hoping to get tonight. You've had late finishes, early starts, and you obviously came over here quite late. Can you give us an idea where you are with your sleep patterns?
JORDAN SPIETH: Better after last night. I didn't sleep much Friday night. By the time we got off the course, ate dinner and got back, it was almost midnight, and then I was up at 4:40, 4:45 Saturday morning. To then wait and play, and 12-and-a-half hours, play four holes, so that was a little odd. But last night I was able to get in early enough and get enough sleep to really catch up, and tonight I will do the same.

Q. Given the low rounds that were out there and are out there now, how were you feeling walking off 9 green, how did you turn it around, and given what's at stake this week, how would you rate the importance or maybe the timing of needing a round like this today?
JORDAN SPIETH: Walking off of 9 green was as frustrated as I've been in a tournament other than off of 14 yesterday morning. Those two moments were as frustrated as I've been. I don't normally ever display frustration. I did both times. I couldn't hold it in. I think I punched my golf bag. I wasn't going to break a club or anything or throw a club, but I just -- I didn't want to hit Michael, so I figured I'd hit my golf bag (laughter.) Just it was a simple wedge from the middle of the fairway, a perfect lob wedge number, and I just made a bogey, and I just don't normally do that. To be at 2-under at that point when the front nine is gettable and it's as easy as the conditions get, I was extremely frustrated there with 2-under. And then to bounce back on the back nine was huge today. I really needed a round to -- I needed to see some putts go, and I saw not only birdie putts but I saw par save on 13, par save on 17. Those are the ones that I missed yesterday that then carried into my birdie putts and I wasn't able to make them. Those were big, big putts for me, especially 13 at the time that it was, and 14 was a great par save on the second putt. I missed those yesterday, and so to come back and really get over those from yesterday and say, you know what, you made these the first round, you've made them the last whatever, year, just step up and knock it in the middle of the hole, it was huge. It was huge for my confidence then to carry in that momentum the rest of the round, and it's big for me going into tomorrow.

Q. Have you ever needed a nine like that so badly given everything that's gone on this year?
JORDAN SPIETH: I wouldn't put an extra significance on it necessarily, but that inward nine gave me troubles the first two rounds, and it improved but at least four shots from the last two days on that nine. Yeah, that was certainly necessary in order to just be in contention for this event, but I wouldn't put more significance on it than that. It's big in a major championship, but for me the more I can just expect that, I guess, the better off I'll be come tomorrow.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Jordan, thank you. Best of luck tomorrow. Well played.
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