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September 23, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Jordan Spieth to the interview room at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Remarkable season so far. As you mentioned, it's not over. So talk about entering this tournament inside the top-5 in the FedExCup and your goal for the final event of the see some.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I love being back here. It's obviously an event that everybody likes to be at. It means you've had a great season, one of the best 30 players throughout the entire season on the PGA TOUR and come to a place that I look at as very similar to Augusta National. I think the layout, the feel, the slopes, it reminds me a lot of it. I said it from after the first time I played Augusta, and then came back here last year, said, wow, this actually is somewhat similar. Just by the look of it. Obviously the greens are different and the bunkers are a bit different, but it has a very similar look and layout in my mind. And I really like this place. I like this place. I played solid two years ago.
I know that my game is capable of playing solid golf on this course. Last year was a bit of a let down on I think the weekend, but this year coming back I feel like if I can get myself into the position that we want to be in entering the final round, then I'll be a different player than I was the last couple years, just based on everything that's happened.
Going in saying that, if I won this it wouldn't be the biggest win of my career kind of puts me at a little bit of ease and would put me at some ease in the heat of the moment. I think that not saying that the FedExCup doesn't bring a fantastic finale to the year, because it certainly does, but I think that would take a bit of pressure off and allow to us free up.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jordan, please.
Q. You were grinding here at, I don't know, 9:30, on Monday and for a long time. Where is the state of your game right now heading into Thursday?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's good. It's not exactly where I want it to be right now, but I would like it to peak starting tomorrow and through Sunday.
Cameron was out here the last two days and we did a lot of short game work and I feel a lot more comfortable with my putting. Last week, I struck the ball much, much better and I just didn't putt very well. My speed control was off. So we did a lot of speed work and a lot of putting work and a lot of mental work. A lot of freeing up, staying patient, staying calm, looking at the big picture of things, stop getting caught up in the sprint and start thinking more about the marathon of everything, the No. 1 ranking, the whatever it is.
I was a little caught up in just trying to be there and force being there, each hole I played. And in reality, I hope to be out here for another 20 plus years and if that's the case, there's going to be a lot of change that happens and there's no denying that. So, the quicker I can accept that, the easier it can be to free me up and to play my own game. Because I wasn't playing my own game the past couple weeks.
It's also hard to play with somebody who is 18-under through two rounds and feel like you are 11-under and not playing well. When in truth, you're really playing some good solid golf. It's tough to play with.
Last week, I had my game back. The weekend I just tried to do a little too much, which is fine. I was either going to -- it was either going to pay off and things were going to go great, or it was going to happen like it did. And I didn't catch the great breaks on Saturday and so I fell back.
Q. You mentioned playing well here two years ago, tied second finish. This time you enter in the top-5, control your on destiny. How does coming in knowing that you control your own destiny -- how does that change or affect your mindset this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's fantastic. I don't think it changes what the feeling was the last couple years, because I was in a position where you had to win in order to win the FedExCup anyways. So, that's the same situation I'm in right now.
You win, you win the FedExCup. I needed some help with winning, but there's nothing I could do about the help part of that in the last couple years.
So, as far as my game and how I attack the golf course and what I'm trying to do, it doesn't change my mindset at all. It is nice that you don't necessarily have to win in order to win the FedExCup, but I wouldn't feel complete necessarily. I think the right way to do it is go out winning this event.
Q. After a pretty historic season in your own right, you've had sort of a front row seat to Jordan in the last, since the final round of the PGA, you played almost all of your rounds of golf with him. You touched on -- I'm sorry, Jason day --
JORDAN SPIETH: No worries.
Q. You touched on it a second ago about the way he was playing, but is it frustrating or is it motivating when you see him playing like that every time you go out with him?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's very motivating. Yeah. Definitely. It's frustrating, when I say it's frustrating, I'm frustrated in my own game and the fact that I didn't have the patience needed in order to then make more birdies and get further under par.
It's very motivating to see that, to see -- I've now, my last whatever, my five of my last seven rounds were with Jason and some of the biggest rounds of the year. And what he did, I mean he destroyed my score in those rounds and for lack of a better term. It is very motivating, because my personality, I don't like getting beat in anything and I'm very stubborn. And I don't enjoy that. And it wasn't fun to watch. But when it's not fun, it motivates me. It doesn't make me angry. It makes me want to get back to the level I was playing at this whole year, to get on top of my game and see if the top of my game can beat the top of anybody else's game when they're at their best.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about you being part of a new big three of golf, obviously with Rory and with Jason. Maybe Rickie is going to be part of a big four. But, overall, your take on that and what do you think the three of you specifically, you won five of the last six Majors, what do you guys bring to the sport as a whole?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well I think that the big number, whatever it is, changes, I've seen it change week-to-week out here.
There was big two, there was big one, there was big two, there was big three, there was big two, there was big four. I mean, Brooks Koepka wins this week, it's the big five. You know, it's what it is.
But the point of that is, is we're all -- we all respect each other, we're all close to each other, we're friends. The fact that five out of the last six Majors are won by guys in their 20s and you would consider young, up and comers, it's -- it just shows that in the biggest stages of what we do, we're fearless, and we embrace the opportunity, and you obviously need a bit of luck, but luck comes from believing luck will come. Luck comes from a self belief that you have, the ability to close the deal out.
And if you get the right break with it, then it's going to come. It is your time. If you believe that you're going to get unlucky, you're probably not going to get lucky. That's just how it is.
I think the state of the game is in a phenomenal place. Those guys are guys that I look up to on and off the golf course. And they're older than me. And I've seen the way that they have handled situations for years now on and off the course, and I can learn a lot from them. It's cool to be put in that situation, because these guys are all at least four years older than me, and so I've got still a lot to learn by the time I'm their age, I think, to handle situations that they're doing in both scenarios.
And I think it's cool to be a part of that conversation and as long as I can stay a part of the big whatever, then I'm doing my job on the course. So, it's very cool. I enjoy it. I think that I wouldn't say this is what golf needs, because everything was going fine before all this talk came up, I felt like. But I think it's cool to have guys battle it out in the biggest stages and not be scared of each other.
Q. Rory compared your game to Jack, from the old big three. What would you say to that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, that's very nice. I don't -- I wasn't the longest hitter, so I don't know about that part.
But he's -- in my mind, careers are on course defined by Major Championships, so I would consider him, if everything ends now, as the greatest player to play because he was the greatest player in the biggest stages to finish -- to win that many Majors and finish second that many times and be up there in the biggest stages of our sport. If Rory compares me to him, I mean I don't, I don't believe so right now, but maybe starting out, but in order to continue on that path, that would be something I can't even imagine.
Q. To follow on your motivation question. When someone you're playing with shoots 61s, 63s, does it force you to see or open your mind to what a course is capable of giving you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah.
Q. Or does it take you out of your comfort zone and make you play a higher risk, higher reward game?
JORDAN SPIETH: Both. You know it's out there. You've seen it happen. Then it forces you to try and make it happen yourself when I wasn't as comfortable with my game as Jason was at that time. So I shouldn't be taking those chances because I can makeup for it by making mid-range putts. Or taking advantage of par-5s by not necessarily having to hit them in two, but doing it the other way, the old fashioned way.
I think that that was a combination of both. I think you know it can be done, I believe that if anybody can do it, I can do it. I have to believe that. And because of that, then I try to do it. When it may not be the best way to try to do it.
It was interesting scenario and I expect him to get off to a really hot start here. I don't see why he wouldn't, he has every round we have played together and every round he's played in. And I will be there to watch it. I won't be paying much attention to it because I know how to attack this golf course. I've been here before and attacked it the right way.
This Bermuda can get a hold of you, you got to play it the right way, you got to be very careful about where you're leaving the ball.
And I believe on these greens, that I can get back to the way I was -- that I've been putting and that I believe that I should be able to putt because these are the type of greens I grew up on. So I feel very comfortable.
Q. Have you given any thought what you would do with the 10 million dollars? And if you're coming down the stretch on Sunday, in contention, would it pop into your brain?
JORDAN SPIETH: Michael told me I should give it to him, but I don't know what he would do with it.
Q. Michael who?
JORDAN SPIETH: Greller.
Q. Oh, I thought Collins.
(Laughter.) No, I would -- I would put it away and make it grow. It would go into the market, I would imagine. It would go -- I don't think they pay it to you in cash. That would be cool, but they don't. Yeah, well, no, I'm saying actual cash.
I know that it -- anyway -- I wish it was still the scenario when it first came out, where it was nine went into retirement and one came in cash, because that would that would be nice.
But no, I -- again, that's not, that's not what it's about. Sure, it's attractive, there's no doubt about it, it's an attractive amount, but when you're coming down the stretch this week, I hope and I believe that I'll think about winning the golf tournament and beating whoever I'm playing against. That's just a bonus at the end.
Q. On the topic of money, if you can think back and sponsorship and endorsements aside, when you first turned pro, whether it was you know, Puerto Rico or Tampa or any of the tournaments you played, did you ever -- just because you're young and you're just turned pro, look to see how much money you made that week? Did you ever check your balance?
JORDAN SPIETH: We get text messages on Sunday evenings on what you finished and what how much money you made and, from the TOUR.
And, yeah, I mean I remember Puerto Rico was the first -- I think Pebble Beach was the first check I made as a professional on course. Puerto Rico was the first big check, significant where I was just like, wow, this is awesome.
But, Jay Danzi freed me up to not have to worry about my money on course, so I respect him for that.
Q. So you never got -- you never called the bank and said, what's my balance, just to see?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I don't, I don't remember doing that. But I remember, I remember finishing second here, and it moved me up to seventh in the FedExCup and I -- it, I tied for second in the tournament, it was like 700 and something thousand and it was a $700,000 bonus. I got the text that said both of them and put it together and said, wow, this is a nice day. Let's go celebrate.
Q. Did you get 1.4 when you added it up?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, a little bit over. Yeah, I think it was like 704,000 or something. But yeah, that's what I got when I added that up. Thank you for that. That was fresh out of dropping out of school.
Q. Instead of talking about money, let's talk about gold. You're also near the top of the Olympic rankings, what are your thoughts about playing in the Olympics and how would a gold medal compare to a Green Jacket?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's difficult to tell, because I don't think anybody's been able to compare the two. It's something that would be a tremendous honor. We all want to make the Olympic team. I don't care if anybody says the don't care that much about it, they're lying. This is a special opportunity that may not come around often. Who knows how long golf will even be in the Olympics. Now that it's in, hopefully it continues to be, hopefully it's exciting.
But to go down there and just to walk in the opening ceremony, carry a flag, to meet the other incredible athletes that are representing the United States. I mean, when you look at TV ratings and you compare it to Super Bowl to an Olympics, it just shows you the impact that it has around the world. So to be able to try and represent the United States, to represent our team, my family, our close knit, the PGA TOUR, whatever, and to try and represent it the right way down there in front of the biggest audience that we ever play in front of, would be fantastic. And it would be something that would certainly get our blood running, I imagine, just like a Major Championship. So, I would certainly take both. I don't know how they compare. I don't think it's fair to compare the two.
Q. Do you feel the pressure though to have a great tournament there so golf will continue in the Olympics?
JORDAN SPIETH: Of course. Of course. Again, the pressure that I believe that I would feel there would be like a Major Championship.
So, there's a certainly a desire to go forward and try and play our best golf and try and win, because more than anything, it would be nice bragging rights if I've got a gold medal and somebody that I get to see week-to-week on the PGA TOUR has got a silver or bronze and you can ask them about their silver or bronze. And vice versa. I wouldn't want somebody -- anyway, medaling for your country is something special. Winning a gold would be, I believe, like winning a Major Championship.
Q. Talking about Majors, when you get on the grounds at a Major, you have a certain emotional level, a certain intensity, so what's the feeling this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Similar to that. Yeah, it's similar. The intensity is there, but the game plan, the approach, is a bit different. I wish it were the same, but you can't put that much effort week-to-week or you just wouldn't be able to finish the year out. I mean, it's a hard to say that, given golf isn't an extremely physical, physically demanding sport, you're walking, you have somebody carrying your own bag for you. But mentally, what you're going through with that kind of pressure, that kind of work you're putting in, that amount of thoughts through your head over an extended period of time of four hours around for four straight days. It's not a two our game, where it's fast twitch like a shot to win a game, where it's just muscle memory.
This is an extended -- not saying this is harder than basketball by any means, I'm saying to put that kind of mental effort into every week is challenging. That's why you -- that's why we section out four events a year.
I've now had time since the PGA to say, why wouldn't we -- I've got enough strength left, I've got enough mental strength left, let's do what we can to prepare to give everything we have this week. I can rest next week before we go over to Korea.
So, I really want to peak these next two tournaments, after the PGA. If you asked me what two tournaments do you want to play extremely well in, have your game, I would say these two.
So, forget about the last three, and I'll come into this one and approach it like a Major and that means game plan, too. That means being more patient on the golf course. Understanding that it's a marathon. I've been approaching it too much like a sprint.
Q. Have you had a time this year to take the long view and say, crazily as it sounds, I don't believe this is ever going to happen, but if you were to never win another tournament again in your life, what you've done since you turned professional is better than a lot of people's careers. You know, I mean you could retire and still be a huge success at age 22?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would like to win the 10 million dollars before retiring.
No, I don't, because it's -- it wasn't in my goals to -- I would feel very empty if that were the case at this point. I'm just starting out. It is my third year out, I'm 22, I believe there's a long way to go. I believe looking back that's a very positive way to look at it, no doubt. And it could free you up and just -- but when you're a competitor, it doesn't matter what you've done. If you're in competition, something comes over you where it's just not acceptable to just, to just give in, to just not care.
And that's not what you're saying, I know that. But I'm saying, when you believe in competing as your job, then especially this early on, for me every tournament is frustrating if you're not competing and when you are, it's exhilarating and it's what we are here for.
Q. You talked earlier about working on the mental part of your game and coming out these last couple weeks. We saw with Rory a couple years ago working and focusing on those two words, process and spot, to help him win a lot more. We saw Johnson Wagner earlier this year doing kind of yoga-type breathing to stay in the moment --
JORDAN SPIETH: Which is a sight in itself.
Q. Which I had no problem with. But is there anything specifically on the course that you're going to be doing this week to remind yourself to maybe stay in the moment, stay patient, not get ahead of yourself?
JORDAN SPIETH: A lot of it goes into the preparation before starting.
On course, if we -- if I talk with Michael about how we're going to attack it, our game plan mentally and hole to hole, how we're going to attack different pin positions, what our plan is, then once we get on the course, it kind of takes care of itself.
I then have already said, this is what we need to do to win. I know this is how we're going to win. When I get on the course, I've already set it, we have already gone through it, it's a will the easier for me to commit to a shot away from the hole.
What we haven't been doing the past couple weeks is doing that. We have been getting out there and saying, oh, this is a good number, I can go at it. When I don't necessarily feel comfortable I put myself in a tough position. It works out here and there. But ultimately, when I've won, I've relied on great putting and solid methodical ball striking to get the ball in the right position and to eliminate bad scores.
That will win this week. And I believe that my putting's getting back to where it should be. My speed control is better and I feel more confident through my stroke. As I work on it today, if that confidence continues to build, then all that mental work will be done ahead of time.
Q. Silly question, throwing out big two, big three, big four, if you could name your group of guys, maybe like a band name or something like that, what would you prefer the media to call the big two, three or four?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm just saying the numbers is funny how often they change. It's just a very -- like I said in my press conference last week, it's just a very what have you done for me now, not necessarily with you guys, but with golf fans and with fans in general of sports.
I am one of them. Like I said, I'm not, this isn't -- if my favorite players aren't doing something in the last few games, what the heck is wrong? Being one, I can tell you it's a different side of things.
So, I wouldn't change necessarily the name. I'm just -- it's interesting how quickly things can certainly change based on what you've done recently and that has absolutely nothing to do with taking away from Jason Day and please don't take it that way, because that guy is capable of what he's doing, he's capable of doing it week-to-week, and it just took a matter of time of him closing out the PGA to kind of unleash the beast. And so there is no doubt that he is the No. 1 player in the world right now, and in order to de-throne him, we have got to be the person that's the now.
Q. Jason talked about sort of looking forward to some time off after such a year. You've been in the spotlight, you've had a lot of pressure tournaments all year long. Do you need some time to sort of decompress in the off season? And will you have a different kind of off season than last year where you went to Asia and Australia and every where?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's very important. It's as important as anything to get ready for a season. Otherwise you would be continuing, and you can see how players can get worn out mentally, worn out for a certain period of time before picking it back up.
My schedule is a bit different. Last week, last year I had two significant breaks. I had a five week break and a six week break. I didn't start until Phoenix into the new year, I wasn't in Kapalua. This year I'll be starting in Kapalua for the season and I am going to go back to Australia and Tiger's event and China and so I still time off is very, very important to me, but it will be three different shortened stretches is what it looks like. And in that time, I plan to take some time away from the game, I plan to take spend a lot of time in the gym, get my body right.
I did a really good job this year. Last year at this time when I went to the Ryder Cup, I was about 15 pounds down from the beginning of the year. This year I'm four or five, I kept my weight up, I stayed healthier, learned a lot from last year. I didn't even fit into my clothes that I got fitted for earlier in the year for the Ryder Cup last year they were too big.
So the off season this year I'm going to try and get stronger, I'm going to try and hit the ball further and in order to do that you have to take a little bit of time away from the amount of reps you normally have during the season. So there will be some solid breaks and I'll make sure that I'm fully rested come Kapalua with important events in the middle of that, obviously.
Q. Sunday will mark the end to the PGA TOUR season. We all know what you accomplished, but what from your what moment from your peers will kind of stand out or anything?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably the Masters. I was just with Zach Johnson and he said, we were talking about he, we were talking about Jason's first two rounds last week and how I played alongside him and he said, man, what you're describing is something I felt liking at the scoreboard in East Georgia back in April or something. And the fact that Zach says that and he's certainly seen it all, is something that was an honor just him saying it right there and it was a special week for me and I believe that I guess from my peers' perspective it's hard for me to speak from that perspective, but if they remembered something from the season, that's probably what they would say.
Q. What will your peers, what will you remember from your peers, rather than an individual moment from the season?
JORDAN SPIETH: What will I remember from my peers?
Q. Your favorite moment of the season not involving you.
JORDAN SPIETH: Oh, I'm sorry. Wow, that was selfish of me.
I misunderstood that. What will I remember? Well, what I paid most attention to throughout the, throughout the exact moment, the moment I paid most attention to somebody else was obviously when I was in that trailer watching Dustin Johnson come up 18 of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. That was obviously a pivotal moment for me and something that I had no control over and the most, if this is what you're asking, the moment I paid most attention to somebody else was obviously there.
But I got a firsthand experience to watch the finish of both the other two Majors, which is also something that I'll remember. I think those are -- Majors in my mind are where you remember the most, they're where you prepare for the most, you get four events a year, and on course, on course legacy, in my mind, is defined by Major Championships. That's my opinion. And so, for me, that's what I remember the most happens to be the Majors.
Q. When we listen to people talk about Jordan Spieth, it's unanimous that the quality person you are, then when we get down to your golf game, some people say, wow, it's because of his mind, others say, oh, no, it's because the way he drives it. Others say, oh, it's his iron play. And then obviously the last one people say, it's because of the way he putts. What do you say it is?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. I've been under the impression when people have asked, not players but when people have asked me, I'm under the impression that I kind of just scratch it around and happen to make a few putts. I mean seriously, that's -- I believe I'm a good ball-striker, I believe I'm a good driver of the golf ball. No, I'm not the best in those categories, but if you look at strokes gained in those categories, I'm up there. Which means that when you do miss, it is missing in the right places. I believe that my misses are in the right locations. And that has to do with, one, consistency, I guess, and two, your method of attacking a golf course and mapping it out and scoping it out.
So, maybe it's golf IQ or it's whatever, there's a lot of guys that have it, I believe it's one of my strengths, you're going to make putts, you're going to miss putts, you're going to have off days, on days, I believe it comes down to when the lights are on, can you create your on days. And I believe that we have been able to show that this year, too. So, I have had plenty of time learning how to do that and I'll have plenty of time going back, I'll have plenty of time hopefully in the future where I have both sides of it. Where when the lights are on, you don't have your best stuff and you do.
It goes in circles. But the consistency of being able to be there as many times as you can be is why Jack was great, he was there that many times and so it went his way enough. And if I can continue to do that, then it will go my way sometimes.
The Masters didn't go my way in 2014, it did this year. The U.S. Open did this year. It didn't go my way at the Open Championship. It happens. You get both situations.
So I would say just the consistency to be able to be in that position and to allow for putts to go in, good breaks to happen, is an advantage for me.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan, good luck this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thanks.
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