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August 25, 2015

Jordan Spieth

Edison, New Jersey


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jordan Spieth, our FedExCup leader, heading into the FedExCup Playoffs, thanks for joining us. Huge year for you this year, four wins, two major championships, 14 Top-10s. If we could start with some opening comments about maybe just summarizing your year so far but also your objectives for the next four weeks.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's been a fantastic year. We've gone about our business the way we wanted to, and you know, after the major season is over, which is where we wanted to peak, and now honestly, we've sat back over the last week and said, how can we get that same kind of momentum to where we can try and peak for THE TOUR Championship.

So I'm going to try and -- it's been a long year, so limited reps. Not taking it as heavy in the gym. Not hitting the same amount of balls, trying to get myself as much strength through the Playoffs as possible. Last year I wore myself out a bit. We did four straight weeks versus a week off here. Yeah, I could still play my best golf, taking it a little easier, given the amount of time we've put in throughout the year.

So this past week was just about getting rest, getting hydrated, getting healthy, and then kind of getting right back into it throughout the weekend into the beginning of this week, kind of ramp up the practice a little bit more and I'll continue to kind of have a little bit of rest at the beginnings of the weeks and then bring it back up to try and peak each weekend, and eventually trying to get everything ready for Atlanta.

Q. After the PGA, you became No. 1 in the world. You said it was a lifelong goal. I know you dislike any time we bring up the age thing but what is it like to accomplish a lifelong goal when you're only 22 years old, and is it almost disappointing in a way because you don't have that to look forward to anymore?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it was kind of the same thing as winning the Masters, which was a lifelong goal at 21. Sure, it's all happened a bit sooner than I may be pictured it back six, seven years ago, but no, it's not disappointing. I'm certainly okay with it all. I wouldn't trade it for anything and to be honest, there's more and more records to try and break.

There's more and more -- as far as No. 1 in the world, there are people, plenty of guys on TOUR right now that have held that position for longer than a week, and I'm happy to be in that position now. But I'd like to obviously hold it.

And I don't know exactly what that entails. I don't know the feeling of trying to hold No. 1 because now you're the one with the target and everyone else is chasing towards that position. The only way I think about going about it is just focusing on this week. If you win each week, you're going to stay No. 1 and in my mind, that's the goal is to approach each tournament to try and win and then try and keep this position for hopefully years.

But again, it can change in two weeks' time, so I'm aware of that. And that bit of fear on the back end of it is enough to get me going and to keep working hard.

Q. You had mentioned that you had stated that goal after winning your first Junior Amateur. Do you remember talking about that at the time, and what was going through your head when you had said that?
JORDAN SPIETH: What was going through my head, after that junior, I believe I became ranked No. 1 junior in the country via, I think there's three ranking systems, I don't know, may have been one or two of them. I remember thinking to myself: If I can get to No. 1 in the junior rankings, these are the guys that I'll be playing against in amateur golf -- if I can get to No. 1 in the amateur rankings some day, I'll be ready to move on and try to take it professionally.

Obviously the competition broadens. You're not playing against the same guys you were in junior golf but eventually those guys are the guys that are your age out there and you've beat them before and so you can do it professionally.

I came out and the guys that I've been playing against were not the guys I was playing junior or amateur golf with for the most part. Just had that belief that if you could do it at each level, then that's when I knew I was ready to turn professional is when I reached that in the amateur rankings, and then just took it out here, and obviously the rise was quicker than I may be imagined.

But it was something on my mind. I remember saying it after that junior when I was 15 turning 16.

Q. When you won that junior, Tiger was No. 1 in the world in the men's ranking by about a billion points. Do you remember what his status was in the game and what you thought by the time you got out here, where you would have expected him to be?
JORDAN SPIETH: I didn't think -- I figured he would still be No. 1. I figured that it would take something extremely special. At the time I figured it would take something extremely special for somebody to overtake him.

I thought that obviously he would be -- by the time I was out here, at the time I thought this would be my rookie year or next year would be my rookie year if things went well. So Tiger would be, I think, is he around 39?

So by the time it took me to get my feet wet and whatever, he may be dialing it back more and not quite at the same level, just given his age. But I wasn't exactly sure because it didn't seem like it was going to be feasible for anyone at the time unless something crazy happened. But with injuries, they kind of set you back and you have to almost start over.

Last week, saw some shades of that Tiger and it was certainly exciting.

Q. As it relates to this, you probably know the math even though you dropped out, but you could probably win these next three events, get to THE TOUR Championship and finish second and still not win the FedExCup?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I could finish solo second and I think still win -- no, that's not true. Top five wins.

Q. Not to discourage you or anything -- given the year you've had already, where do you put the prestige level of the FedExCup, given the quirkiness of the finale?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's very interesting because I understand why you make the Playoff events worth more. Obviously in my position right now, where I stand, I wish that they were the same as a regular TOUR event. In past years, two years ago, I was glad that they were worth more.

You know, I put winning the FedExCup below a major championship. I don't think anybody holds it to the same level necessarily as far as players. It's pretty much, did you win East Lake. There's been circumstances where I think Phil won East Lake, Tiger won the FedEx. I think there's been a few of those. But for the most part, if you win East Lake, the guys that have won have been -- I think Bill came from way behind but have been up there because they played well leading into the TOUR Championship.

So it's interesting. I don't know exactly where I put it. It's something that obviously everybody wants to win, there's no doubt about it. But I think it's a little odd that it just completely resets, because if you want it to be the true champion of the year, it wouldn't necessarily reset for the final, even if you do make it worth more points throughout the Playoffs.

Q. Where do we put this on lifelong goals?
JORDAN SPIETH: Something that would put some food on the table for sure (laughter). Yeah, it's something I'd love to win some day. The names on that trophy are no fluke. And so it's something that hopefully I get a lot of chances at. This will be my third chance. I think I'm secured into East Lake, but somewhere around the top five, too, to where if I win there, we've got a good shot at it, and it's a great position to be in. I would certainly set it as something I want to achieve more so than just any regular event, definitely.

Q. Two-part schedule question. Has it dawned on you that any time in recent weeks that in roughly a year, you'll be sharing the stage with Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps at the Olympics? And with four majors and Olympics and a Ryder Cup, have you already started to do things now to make the schedule work next year, whether it's in your training or whatever?
JORDAN SPIETH: As far as the Olympics go, you guys can help me out -- is there six Americans in the Top-10, something like that?

So in my mind, I haven't made the team yet. American golf has been unbelievably strong recently. I don't know if I'm secured. I think that they end up taking it, I think it's July, the cutoff. I had heard April originally and I think it moved to July 11.

Q. I know it has not been a lifelong goal to win an Olympic medal --
JORDAN SPIETH: No, but in my mind, I still have to work extremely hard and play at the same level in order to actually make that team. It's not secured.

So if I were to make that team, that would be incredible. I mean, when I was really young, I always thought of the people that walked in the opening -- the Olympians that walked in the Opening Ceremonies, it was like you were the greatest-athletes-in-the-world type of thing. And once I chose golf or once I realized I certainly wasn't going to be there for any other sport, I didn't think it would ever be a reality. But it's still obviously the most-watched sporting event in the world.

And so I thought that the interest is so high, and to be able to be one of those athletes and do something, I would never forget that ceremony and that walk; walking with the American flag there, it will be -- it will be awesome if I can make that team.

But yeah, with everything that's going on, and things that I've learned over the past couple years, where I wore myself out, where I felt great, where I've peaked; each year, we seem to pick the right schedule in order to feel rested. But still, I like to play-weeks-before-big-events-type thing.

So to find that middle ground and find places that are close to my heart and allow me to be where I'm at, we've still found a way to do it. I don't see that changing much. I think with a couple extra added events, say, the Olympics and a Ryder Cup and Hawai'i this year when I wasn't there last year, there will be other tournaments that I may not play in that I have. But I have yet to discover that and it will be probably an off-season topic.

Q. Given that you're trying to take it easy a little bit right now and you are pretty close to New York City here, do you take any time for yourself on a week like this to do something not related to golf, just purely for your own enjoyment, or is it still hard on a week like this?
JORDAN SPIETH: The City I think is about an hour away from here, so I probably won't go into there this week. Maybe after the tournament is over I'll go in, because we don't start until Friday next week.

I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Yeah, probably just a normal week this week. I'll eat dinner close to where we're staying, just hang out with some of the guys and lay low. I probably won't do anything outside of it this week. I think next week, I'm scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Fenway, which will be pretty cool, and they are playing the Yankees. So that will be a fun experience.

So that kind of stuff I'll kind of mix in throughout the weeks, for sure. I love going to sporting events or at least getting out and seeing some of the local, cool spots. It's just fun week-to-week.

Q. First of all, do you know what day you're throwing the first pitch out?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't want to tell you. (Laughter).

Q. Are you a Yankees or Red Sox guy?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's important for the Rangers what the outcome of that game is. (Laughter) I think it's Tuesday.

Q. Many times you've arrived at a tournament having never seen the golf course. What are the keys for you to get ready to play that golf course, whether it's spend more time on the greens, around the greens, sight lines; is there a formula that you follow?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm going to play nine holes this afternoon, and then from there I'll be able to kind of get a gist of what you need to work on this week, whether that is spend a little more time with driving the ball, whether it is -- as far as putting, week-to-week, I'll spend the exact same amount -- I'll spend a lot of time, maybe a little extra on the weekend. If I'm really late, I'll just do an extra session.

As far as leading up to the tournament, my putting strategy as far as my practice, it doesn't change the amount of time. I put the same amount each time to get comfortable enough with my stroke. When I feel that I'm at that comfort level, I'll nail it in to where it's subconscious and then I'll go with it.

But as far as pitching, certain shots to play out of rough, bunker shots, and then I'll be able to figure it out after the round this afternoon. Be I'll able to figure out after the round this afternoon. I'll be able to figure out if you need to launch irons higher or you need to work the ball left-to-right with a driver more than right-to-left; whatever makes this course a little bit easier when you don't really know it.

Q. Talking about throwing out the first pitch, what does it mean to you when you go back to Dallas, go back to Texas, doing things like throwing out the first pitch at the Rangers game and involved with the Mavericks, and also what about the bet with Zach Johnson last week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's fun. It's really cool. At this Ranger game, it was the first time outside of -- I was talking to Doug about this. It was the first time outside of golf media that I was announced as the No. 1 player in the world, and I was announced there. It was just a really cool feeling to hear that over the loudspeaker as I was running out.

And Josh Hamilton caught it, and I have always looked up to him. He's been one of my favorite Rangers, even though he was there, went to the Angels and came back. It was cool; I had met him before. So to kind of have a buddy come out and catch it and get to meet some of the guys, yeah, it was a fun experience. Just like the Mavs game was for the Masters back in May.

I love being at home. The support there is second to none, and it will I think continue to be that way. It's just a special feeling. You get goosebumps there when you realize just how -- it's just such a small world, sports fans in Dallas. Even though there's a lot of people in the Metroplex, to have that recognition there is really cool.

Q. I wonder last week, how much attention you paid to Wyndham and guys you know on Tour and whatnot, and how much do you appreciate the grind and the pressures of the guys kind of at the bottom of the rung, the Jason Gores of the world, to try to get here and keep their seasons alive?
JORDAN SPIETH: The Wyndham is one of the few tournaments where I really watch a lot of it. I think it's really interesting. You see guys that are fighting for their job. You see some really clutch shots. It's one of the most entertaining events of the year, and I've watched a lot of it, too, because of Tiger. I mean, it was cool to see. Honestly, I was going about my work, but when I had downtime, I turned it on. When I was eating lunch, I had it on. The interest was there, more so than normal.

It's interesting, because people are like, well, what's he going to do, this, or that or that. The point that you're asking that question and everyone wants to watch it just shows that that effect is obviously still there. Yeah, I liked watching the passion that he had, that Tiger had during the week.

I liked watching Jason. I've gotten to know Jason a little bit and what a super-good guy he is. I was rooting for him that last day, Scott Brown, a buddy of mine.

Obviously Captain; how about Davis Love winning at 51, coming off I think a couple missed cuts and just saying, oh, well, I'm going to go out and win this week. His putting was incredible. There was a lot of really cool story lines at the Wyndham last week and I was very interested in them.

Q. Just to follow up on your Dallas sports fandom, I know you're at the fault line between Giants fans and Eagles fans. Do you ever get ribbing about being a Cowboys fan when you come to this neck of the woods, and are you fearful that they might discover that?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, because I don't really bring it upon myself. I'm sure I could if I wanted to. No, I try and keep my fandom down a bit when I'm here for whatever it is, whether it's Rangers, Cowboys, whatever, you name it. This is a very tricky territory for me to be in (smiling). But it's all in good fun and I've had a great time around the New York/New Jersey area the fans couple years and the fans have been fantastic.

Sure, you hear "Go Eagles" here and there for those that actually know I really like the Cowboys but not a ton of it.

Q. What has it been like for you as a lifelong Cowboys fan to be around the team and have some photos with Romo, how has that experience been for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, really cool. I don't remember their Super Bowl wins. I think their last one, I was two. So unfortunately there's been some rough times growing up, but stuck with them and had some good years recently. Looking for a really good year this year.

And to get to know some of the guys -- Tony got to inviting me to dinners. I went to, it was kind of a weekly thing. I would go with he, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray when he was still in Dallas, and Brandon Weeden and then a couple other guys. Boy, it was a really good time getting to know those guys when I root so passionately for them on Sundays. It was kind of a slap-yourself moment that these guys want to meet me, too. It's an awesome experience. If they didn't, they played it off like they did. Made me feel good.

Q. When you were talking about Tiger, like you're part of that generation like a lot of us that grew up watching him or watched him sort of dominate in his own specific way and be very standoffish, or so it appeared on the course with other players, and that kind of ultra competitiveness. You don't come across that way and a lot of us saw that in the last tournament with the thumbs up that you gave. Where do you come about with that approach to the game? Doesn't hide your competitiveness but just a different way. How do you describe your sportsmanship and how you became to be that way?
JORDAN SPIETH: First off, I'll offer a slight insight; that as far as I've dealt with Tiger, that's not the impact that it has with us. It may come across that way via camera, but he's been nothing but respectful to me when I've played with him.

Yeah, extremely competitive like you said but not standoffish. Just very passionate about his own game and very cost in his own game and very confident in his own game, and I think you need that to be successful.

For me, when I was playing with Jason, that was my fourth or fifth major championship round this year with him. And I've seen the falls that he's had this year and the close calls and how badly, how he and Colin, how hard they work. I saw it week-to-week how much they wanted to really, really focus on the majors, and to come up so close.

So I recognized what was going through his veins on that Sunday and how if he opened the door just slightly, that I was ready to pounce on it.

At the end there, even though there was only a few holes left, there can be a three-shot swing very, very quickly in a major championship, especially on those holes. Those are hard holes. And so I've just recognized a fantastic performance at the end under pressure, under extreme pressure; someone who had been closer so many times than I had, and I had only been close really once before I won mine, the second time I was in contention, really.

He just had the wrong timing. He just had guys that played a little bit better or he just got bad bounces. And so I recognized that he pulled off the right shots. There was no luck involved. I was giving a thumbs-up as just a sign of recognizing how special I knew that that was.

By the time I knew it was time for me to go, I was ready to drain a putt and give a fist pump and let him hear me. But watching his as I'm reading my putt in that little bit of down time, you recognize what he's going through and how special those two days were for him.

On 18, after he hit his first putt, obviously when we were walking up to the green, I knew I was done. And so, let him have his moment after his first putt. For me, I was in a position where I could 3-putt; I could 4-putt, nothing was going to change my position; I could make it.

So I could sit back and kind of somewhat enjoy it with him in a way. Obviously I was upset at some of my mistakes that day, but at that moment, you just want to be happy for a friend, and it's the same thing with Zach at the end of The Open Championship. He's a friend, as well, and it's nice when the good guys prevail and happen to be buddies, as well.

Q. In 2009, you win your Junior Amateur here in New Jersey and you're back here six years later, No. 1 in the world. Want to talk to New Jersey golf fans about that coincidence?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's cool. Sometimes it seems like it was 20 years ago and sometimes it seems like it was yesterday. Just depends on the day.

I remember specific holes on both the courses we played, the Old and the New. I remember specific shots I hit, who I played. I had my round of 32, I went to extra holes. I went to 17 a couple times. Just it was a really neat experience, and it was really the first time I had ever played golf in New Jersey, coming up here to play. I know, what is it, it's about 20 minutes from here, isn't it? So this is as close as I've been back to there.

Yeah, we had great fans that week. For being a junior golf event, there was a great showing. Shows the knowledge of the sport in this state, and I'm interested to see this week the following we get. Should be pretty fun being paired with Jason and Bubba.

Q. You talked about throwing out the first pitch at baseball games and hanging out with teams that you're fans of. Has it sunk into yet how popular you have become and that you are really are one of the stars on this Tour?
JORDAN SPIETH: Depends on who you ask, I guess. I don't know, that's a tough question for me to answer about myself. I really enjoy those experiences. It's cool, like I said earlier, it's kind of a pinch-yourself moment that these guys recognize what you're doing and that they watch on a consistent basis, these other sports stars or entertainment stars, people that you're fans of that you like to watch.

Yeah, I guess start to recognize the position I'm in now, and with that, it's a responsibility. If you're going to be one of the faces of the sport or the TOUR, then you have to carry yourself the right way on and off the course like these other guys that you're fans of do.

So now that I recognize I'm in that position, there is somewhat of a responsibility. The guys before me have done such a great job with it that I just learn from them that it shouldn't be too hard.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jordan Spieth, thank you very much.

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