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September 15, 2015

Jordan Spieth

Lake Forest, Illinois

DOUG MILNE: Jordan Spieth, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here before the start of the 2015 BMW Championship. You're coming into the week second in the world, second in FedExCup standings. You're making your third start here at the BMW Championship. Tied 16th, I believe, here in 2013, so just with that, a few comments on being back here at Conway Farms.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's a beautiful place here. It's a bit of a quirky golf course but in a good way. It's got some point A to point B, some holes it's not -- more holes than on a lot of places we play you don't hit driver off the tee. I like the course a lot. The greens are in unbelievable shape. They're in fantastic -- they're putting incredibly well on the golf course. I got in nine holes today, and it looks to be a test.

It looks like we're going to get a little bit of everything. We'll play two different wind conditions this week. We'll get some heavy winds Thursday it looks like, so you've got to be able to control your ball because the rough is up. It's in immaculate shape. We like coming here; it's top-notch. Everything is very easy, the facilities. Life is easy for us most weeks and it's very easy for us this week, so we enjoy it.

Q. It's a lot different for you back in 2013 I remember you being here, just the life changes that you've experienced since being back here, do you feel any different?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, yeah. I mean, just having played 60 more events since then, you know, it's easier -- it just feels more normal. In '13 it was still my rookie season where I started really in Tampa, Puerto Rico, to go full swing, so it was still pretty fresh in my mind. At the time I had just gotten a call about the Presidents Cup and I was obviously trying to make a run at the Playoffs but was really excited about the Presidents Cup pick. This year having that already settled in and built into the schedule, being able to -- like I said, from the first playoff event, try and get ready to peak for Atlanta is the goal, and coming back to two familiar places this week and next week to finish off the playoff run is very exciting.

But yeah, sure, I feel like -- I feel different than I did in 2013 with the way things have gone, and I think it's a good thing.

Q. Do you feel a little more settled in this week? There's some talk about you going back and forth with golf clubs and things. Did the weekend off help you get prepared for where you want to be this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, the changes in clubs never have made a difference -- when I switch them out, it's never made a difference for me in the past. I don't think it was the difference at all, like I said, last tournament. It wasn't the clubs. I was just off a little bit.

Coming off a week off, I came off a week off into the last two events, so it feels the same. Everything feels normal. Everything is on point. My game is in a solid state right now. It's in a state where I can certainly shoot into double digits under par, and I believe that. It's just a matter of getting it rolling, get into a groove and starting to see some putts go in and get an under-par round started so that I can settle in a little easier.

Q. With some of the events that you still have scheduled this fall, does it feel like there's a sense of finality to the great season that you've had here, or is there still so much to play for in 2015?
JORDAN SPIETH: There is a lot more to play for in the next three events that I'm playing. I think of the TOUR Championship and the Presidents Cup as the final tallies for the year, and I think of the next events as next season because China is what starts it for next year, although a calendar year would -- obviously if we can close out however many events I play this fall and try and get another win or two in 2015, that would be -- but as far as what I think of the season, I thought of the two events that I played, Australian Open and Tiger's event, the Hero World Challenge at the end of last year as paramount in what happened this year. They were extremely key events that I don't know if the success that happened this year happens without those two events, I really don't. Mentally they took me to a different level, just learning how to close those two out.

So that's kind of how I think of those events is the way to start some momentum going into the next season.

I have a little less of an off-season this year given I'll be starting up at Hyundai, and the way things are scheduled. Last year I had a five-week break and a six-week break. This year it looks like it's more sporadic and not quite as long. It'll be a bit of a challenge to try and get enough rest and reflection on this season before getting started towards next year.

Q. Did you have fun at those football games this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: I did, yeah. Yeah, the 'Horns game was awesome. We were down on the field, and they honored all the Big 12 winners, and then the band spelling out my last name. That was always -- right after the Masters, that was something I was very much looking forward to was going back down to school and being out there on the field, and I'm happy that they asked me to do so. It gives me chills just thinking of it. It was a really cool feeling.

Q. Being a big football fan as you are, do you wish the FedExCup Playoffs would end maybe before football season?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think it's good how it is. I like that they run right into the team events, which are huge events for us each year. You want to be fresh going into them. I like that there's a week break. Last year having four events in a row and then one and then the Ryder Cup was tough. Next year will be a challenge with the schedule.

But no, it's fun to watch football games on the road with our friends out here, too. Every once in a while you get good timing and you can even go to an away game for teams that you don't normally get to see, whether it's football, baseball, basketball, getting to go to Fenway Park. If the season stops earlier, we don't get that opportunity. Or I guess it just depends. But no, I think it's just fine how it is.

Q. With this being your third straight year playing an International Team competition, how does your role in the locker room change or does it? Do you feel like you take more of a leadership type role?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure yet. I'm interested to see. The Ryder Cup, I just felt a little more comfortable around the guys because I had the experience of being out for two full years and an experience of being in one team room, but it was still so new. It's a different -- Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are just two different feelings. They're both huge, but we were over in Scotland and we were around -- on away soil, and it was the Ryder Cup, we're playing against different opponents. Presidents Cup was here. It felt more like a PGA TOUR event because it was on a course we normally play against an international field, guys from all over the place, and so I'm interested to see this year because we're going somewhere unique, and I feel like I'm in a different position obviously on the team standings than I was on Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup before.

To answer your question, I truly am not sure yet how it'll feel in the locker room because I almost felt like a rookie in both, because I was a rookie in both, but I still felt that way even at the Ryder Cup.

Q. You've played with Jason and you've played with Rickie at various times, but this will be the first time you guys have played together as a threesome at a TOUR event. How much do you relish that opportunity to play with the other young guys, and what does it say about the state of golf right now?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's going to be a lot of fun. You know, sad to see Bubba go, happy to see Rickie come in. It's not a bad place to be playing with these guys week in and week out. It's a lot of fun.

We had a good time the first two rounds of each of the last two events. Jason and Rickie winning the first two events is big for the sport, sure, and the younger generation to have guys -- what's Jason, is he 26, 27?

Q. 27.
JORDAN SPIETH: 27? So to have four of the top 5 in the world at 27 years of age or younger is really cool, and you saw Rickie take it down to the last hole and hit some fantastic shots and make some long putts, one that you'd see a lot of guys coast in that scenario, and he made them fall. He willed them in. Those guys are good buddies. I'm friends with both of them. We're going to have a good time. I played with Jason when we played Conway last time. Not that that means much, but I'm obviously comfortable playing with Jason now that I've played with him so much within the last couple months, and bringing Rickie in will just add another element.

Q. You might play against them in Korea.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, might play against Jason? I guess we'll see how it goes. But sure, yeah. I'm up for any opportunity.

Q. What's kind of the mindset, not just you but everybody this week? Obviously the margin for error is so slim, and what Horschel did last year, really anything is possible in these last two weeks.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, and with the reset going into the last one, I don't think the difference between two and three is big. I don't think the difference between -- so it's really just a free-rolling scenario. You want to win because you want to win a PGA TOUR event. As far as the final tally or the FedExCup, it's not going to make much of a difference if I win this week or finish 70th because it'll be re-paired and I'll be in the top 5, you control your own destiny. There are certainly scenarios where it is advantageous to be towards the top, but I've got to get some points. I've just got to get some points going into next week.

But it is an interesting scenario because of the reshuffle before the last event, and it makes you feel like you may as well go for broke here and play some shots under pressure that are more dangerous so that you can almost have it ready for next week.

Q. All that said, and it was a lot, what's your goal for the week?
JORDAN SPIETH: To win the tournament. To get back and --

Q. Is that a dumb question?
JORDAN SPIETH: You never ask dumb questions, Doug. But that one was up there, sure.

Q. But given everything you've talked about with Atlanta, it doesn't matter who wins this week frankly, does it?
JORDAN SPIETH: It doesn't, but at the same time it's not like we're playing for nothing. We still care about money, too. I mean, we like that part of it. You're still playing for a full purse. You're still trying to compete against the best players in the world. You still want to at the end of the day be No. 1 in the world. I mean, there's a lot going on within the week where you want to win the event. What I'm saying is when you think about the FedExCup picture, it doesn't make that much of a difference. But for the top few guys -- for our group pretty much, but as you -- yeah, this is still a very big PGA TOUR event, one that I certainly want to win.

Q. When you look back on Boston, and it was an interesting point about wanting to start the week ahead, in other words getting red on the board which you didn't do, was that defensive? Was that a mistake on your part to think that way, or was that the right way to go about it do you think, looking backwards?
JORDAN SPIETH: It wasn't like I was putting extra pressure on that to start the round when I was inside the ropes, but it was something that I thought would be a big advantage coming in. My bounce-back is solid. I believe that after you get off to a rough start, I can still turn it into an under-par round. It's been this way that whole year. It's been that way for a while. I was surprised we weren't able to bounce back. And maybe thinking about really trying to get under par before, over par, to get settled in off of a missed cut, maybe that was a little extra added something to it once I got -- once I started black. It was just another thing I was trying to do that I wasn't accomplishing. But I don't think it made a major impact in the outcome of the week. I didn't strike my irons well, and then I didn't putt well on consecutive days. Starting behind the 8-ball after round 1s these last couple weeks is just a little too much to ask for on these hard golf courses.

You know, this week I'm not thinking black or red, it's just -- --

Q. There's no cut this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: There's no cut. I'm happy to be checking into my hotel, and when they ask what day I'm checking out, I can say, "I'm checking out on Sunday." It's nice.

Q. After you did miss the cut in Boston, it's as if half the golf world weighed in on what's wrong with Jordan Spieth. Did you hear that and how concerned were you after doing that for the first time in your career?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's actually interesting what pictures -- when you see because I use Instagram, I use Twitter, I don't search out comments or stuff that's posted about me but I follow Golf Digest, Golf Channel, whatever it is, ESPN, so in your feed you see it come up, and it's actually amazing the amount of pictures photographers must take to get these like -- like these crazy reactions that randomly you don't think anybody is around that you're giving and they capture it. It's not the most flattering of pictures that happen when you're not playing well. But yeah, sure, I'm not aware of the -- I'm not aware of the specifics on what Joe sitting on his couch in Montana thinks about my golf game, but I am aware that people thought -- it just seems like it's interesting how it's a what can you do for me now kind of -- when the spotlight is on. I'm that way with sports teams, so why can't people be that way with me? Everyone has their opinions, and the hardest thing for me to do is to not react to that and just to say, you know what, two weeks ago everyone said, you're the best there is, you're the best in the world, you're awesome, man, not a bad thing said, and then Jason wins -- Jason is the best in the world, man, he's awesome. And then Rickie wins. Rickie wasn't even what you guys were talking about. You guys were talking about me, Rory and Jason. Rickie wins, and all of a sudden people are coming out of their igloos and they're saying, man, that's my guy. He's the best in the world. It's just what can you do for me now. The more I can smile and laugh about that and the fact that people are just about -- you have true fans, there's no doubt, and I love true fans and I'm happy to take any bandwagon fans there are for me. It's just interesting from our point of view seeing what's published, I guess. It's interesting, and you just need to keep your head down, stay focused, and try and be the guy that people are talking about next week.

Q. Sort of along those lines, after the great year you had in the majors, how have you tried to avoid having a letdown, and is there any chance that you did have a letdown in those first two events?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, you guys asked me the same thing after the Masters: How do you avoid a letdown? You guys asked me the same thing after the U.S. Open: How are you going to avoid a letdown? There wasn't a letdown this year. I just had two bad weeks. Just leave it at that. I missed the cut at THE PLAYERS. There wasn't a letdown after the Masters; you're just not going to make every single cut. You're going to have two bad days in a row every now and then. I hadn't missed a cut at Torrey Pines earlier this year and bounced back with a couple really good weeks after. It was rare to miss, to have those four rounds in a row. I feel very confident about where I'm at right this second. I rested a lot. I got a lot of work in this past week, took some time off. I'm doing most of my work throughout the week kind of starting small and I'll -- as the week goes on, probably work more and more again to try and peak for next week, approach it like it's a major championship, and the weeks before majors this year have been good weeks for me, so I feel confident about the way we'll perform this week, as well.

Q. If I could just follow completely unrelated, you've been one of the young guys who Phil has taken under his wing at times, especially the team events --
JORDAN SPIETH: Phil hates me.

Q. What was your reaction to him getting a captain's pick, and were you good with that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been able to see Phil now in two team rooms, and I don't think there's anybody better in the locker room. He's unbelievably positive. He brings some adrenaline and excitement we don't normally see in people his age (laughter) to these team events. Boy, it's fun having him around. He walks in, his stories, you guys have all heard plenty of them, his stories, his excitement, his just positive nature, his ability to come up to you and tell you that he's certain -- he dreamt, he knows you're going to win your match today before you even start. It's great to have that guy who's seen a lot of rough patches in the Ryder Cup. He's seen a couple wins in the Ryder Cup and a lot of wins in the Presidents Cup. He's seen it all as far as these team events go. So you just have that ability to trust him, and we like that. So I'm excited.

Q. You're going to be back in Australia this November to defend your title as Australian Open champion. One of the greatest rounds ever played down there was your final round when you had 21 putts on the last day to win the championship. Can you describe that last round for us?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was putting great. I worked -- I came off of Japan the week before, and I had a chance to birdie the last, a par-5, and get into a playoff, and I didn't play the hole very well. I was pretty frustrated going to Australia. My instructor was there, and we found in my putting, my path was a little bit straight back so it was absolutely pulled, and we worked really, really hard that Tuesday and Wednesday, probably hit 500 putts each day, just straight putts, just getting the path with his eye on it to get it down, and I felt just -- I was hitting the ball fantastic in Japan and went there and just tried to keep the same rhythm, not overwork it, just try to get the same amount in, but just really worked hard on the putting. I love the greens there, that Bermuda, it's just like what I grew up on, and it was some wind with grainy Bermuda and a stroke that I felt confident with.

I played the first couple rounds and it was still a little bit of an adjustment and it finally started to peak on the weekend, and that Sunday was, to this day, arguably the best round I've ever played, other than maybe the first round of Augusta this year minus if I had played the 15th hole the way I should, that's the best round I've ever played.

But given the conditions, when I was in trouble, I knew that I could hit my chip within 10 feet, and I felt like it was going in, and that's a great thing to feel. It frees you up. It frees you up to go at pins. It frees you up to play a little safer on chip shots or flop shots, and like I said earlier, that was a huge tournament. That day was a huge day in stepping up my game mentally and believing that I can close out professional events.

Q. Just curious in your talks with Phil, did he ever share his plan with you to solve Social Security?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I'll ask him, though.

Q. Jason spoke earlier about -- it'll take forever, by the way. Really not until July at the Open this year did he really, truly start to believe in himself, which seems surprising given the way he hits the ball. How important is self-belief, and where did you get yours from, and when?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would argue Jason believed in himself every time he stepped on the first tee. I think maybe he just had a bit of doubts as it got into the heat on the last round, maybe a couple -- whatever it was, where at certain times he'd just have a little bit of self-doubt for tiny stretches, and if you do that, you're not going to win the tournament.

So for him to say he just started truly believing in himself around July, I would argue, a player of his caliber certainly has that self-belief all the time, he just may have lost it here and there, that now he doesn't lose it.

I'm not going to tell Jason how Jason feels. That's not what I mean to say. But anybody who's out here to his caliber of player has that.

But for me, it may have been those last two events the last year. The John Deere in 2013, although it was a great finish, we made some birdies coming down the stretch, I think four in the last six holes, the same as this year, there was quite a bit of luck involved, and I just hung around. I didn't capitalize in the playoff, I didn't do anything special. I made a couple par putts and I got good breaks between Zach hitting the pin, Zach missing a short putt, David missing a couple short putts. I didn't deserve to win that tournament necessarily. I got a nice break to win it.

But those -- to close out the two events at the end of last year, I had self-doubt, and it showed throughout 2014. There was self-doubt -- there was self-belief every time I started a last round, but as I got into it, not everything is going to go your way that day, it's a matter of how little you let it affect you. I just let it affect me a bit more, had a little bit of a lack of patience. And then that day just having the confidence in my own game to peak at the right time and when it started to peak to run with it and to not back off of it on that last round in Australia and then into Tiger's event, although it's a small field, we played that golf course as good as I've ever played a golf course, and really didn't miss hardly any shots in 72 holes.

Still the best I think I've ever played in a four-day stretch in my life. And to have those events against Rory is No. 1, Adam I think is No. 2 at the time, Jason Day was there in Australia, this was a good field, in a place I'm not familiar with, which is a continent I've never been to, and then to go back on a shortened week off of a lack of sleep to Tiger's event and do it in Florida, I think that's where I established a different level of self-belief where I could continue to have it even when things didn't quite go well.

And it bounces back and forth. At Riviera I believe I should have won this event that year. I had a couple situations where I just let it get to me a little bit too much, and I need one shot out of that playoff, and I bogeyed the last hole, too, thinking I needed to birdie it, but then we reestablished it back at Tampa, closing that tournament out. So it goes back and forth a little bit, but the point is once you've had it, you know you can do it again.

Q. He said as a kid he would walk onto a putting green feeling like he was the guy to beat this week, and he said he has that feeling now. How many guys do you think have that out here? Do you have it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I believe that. I believe you should believe that. I embrace the fact that he believes that because that gives me a bit of an underdog feel, which is nice. But sure, when you step on the putting green or you step onto the first tee, you should believe that you're the best player there. You should, or else you're not going to be out here very long if you don't. I don't know how many players have it, but the guys that are faced with tough situations and choose to play right towards the pin versus away from the pin, whether it's going to pay off for them or not, I believe have that.

Q. If you could just talk a bit about going back to Australia when it's potentially in the way of your schedule this time, like people said going to John Deere was going to be a problem for you or whatever, what was the importance of going back, other than the stuff you've already mentioned?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't feel that it was in the way. Immediately after I wanted to come back. I just love my time there. It's a great place to go in the off-season. It's a great place to go, it's summertime in the end of November. It's a little un-American because it is during Thanksgiving, and it is frustrating. I do miss a good cowboys game at home.

But I fell in love with Australia, I really did, and Sydney, and I look forward to going back maybe a bit earlier this time and just get to -- I like what I'm doing off the course there, too. It's a cool golf course and a fun tournament to play, but to go there and to have almost a vacation part of it, too, is awesome because you almost -- it's almost just like a very laid-back feeling being there, and I like it.

Q. So you never questioned defending?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I didn't, unless there was -- unless for whatever reason the dates conflicted with something I needed to go to, but once they didn't, I was more than happy to go back.

Q. You're a college football fan, and part of the fun of that is debating who's No. 1, and I saw today on The Golf Channel that now Jason Day has a chance to be No. 1 after this week. Is that fun for you? Is that healthy for the sport, to have people talking about different guys, challenging for that top spot?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I knew that he could become No. 1 at the last tournament, too. There's no reason why he shouldn't. He's been the best player in the last month, or last whatever, couple months, going back to really the end of The Open Championship. It's not like he had a poor year before that, either. He certainly climbed up there, and I think his normal points -- the points level he has would have been No. 1 quite often in the last few years for the average points. It's just that me and Rory have also played extremely well over the past couple years.

No, we don't pay much attention to it. I'm told here that I'm No. 2. I became No. 1 after missing two cuts in a row, and I know I became the first player in the history of the sport to do that. And then again, after not playing, Rory goes back, by tournaments to drop off. I know how it works. But I think it's healthy. I think it's healthy to have a lot of good young players. You throw Rickie in, who's obviously, I think, the best player in the world right now. He's the one who won the most recent tournament. Every week if I'm asked, it's whoever won the week before is the one who's playing the best right now, so he's the best in the world.

So yeah, I think it's definitely healthy for the sport to have young guys that are able to go out there and win in the heat of things, close the door.

DOUG MILNE: Jordan, thanks for your time.

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