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January 20, 2016
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
NEIL AHERN: Jordan, first of all, let me say it's a great pleasure to welcome the world No. 1 to Abu Dhabi and for your first regular European Tour event. How have you enjoyed your time so far here in Abu Dhabi?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, very much. We arrived on Monday evening and as of today, I feel completely over the jet-lag, so that's good.
Yeah, it's been beautiful. We had a great afternoon here at the course yesterday. We had a fun morning shooting with Rickie, Rory and Henrik doing some fun activities over at the club next to where we're staying. Going to get out in the Pro-Am today and see the course in a whole for the first time. I played the back nine yesterday, and I recognise this course.
This is an event I've actually watched. Considering I haven't played this week in the past few years, I've actually watched a considerable amount of this tournament on TV. So it's cool to play holes that you've watched these other guys play, at a place like Abu Dhabi this year, it's very hard to beat.
NEIL AHERN: Wasn't a bad start to 2016 in Hawai'i. Confidence must be sky-high for you at the moment heading into this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I feel great. I came home from Hawai'i, took a couple days off, went and saw my instructor, and I actually feel better the about the way I'm striking my irons coming into this week than I did going into Hawai'i.
Trying to maintain my putting and maintain my short game statistics, and the way I drove the ball my irons feel very improved. I'm not going to shoot 30-under this week; I don't think that's possible on this golf course. That was a dream come true week for me, everything came together and I scored incredibly well. But if I can drive the ball in the places that I was driving it in Kapalua keep it in the short grass here, I feel very confident about my chances.
Q. You're on something of a world tour at the moment, going back to October. How much are you enjoying that, and what's the driving force behind that; getting experience on golf courses?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a bit tiring (laughs). It's fun. I got to see Korea for the first time, go back to Shanghai, go over to Oz again and see Melbourne and Sydney. Back to the Bahamas and then Hawai'i, here, Singapore next week. And then back to kind of the regular schedule that I've been on the last couple years.
What's behind it? Yeah, taking the opportunities. Last year I kind of wanted more of a break. This year I kind of wanted to go out and take advantage of the year and see places that I had never seen before, on and off the course.
This is not only one of the biggest events of the year field-wise, it's one of the largest European Tour events, one of the strongest fields of the year. And it really kick starts kind of a world tour of 2016, and it happens to be over here.
And Rickie has talked to me for over a year now about this event, and that certainly had some influence, as well. So you know, as far as the entire world tour, yeah, it's been great and I'm looking forward to these two weeks and also getting back to my regular schedule.
Q. You mentioned the GolfBoards yesterday. Rory came in and told us that you nearly wiped him out yesterday. Can you tell us just a little bit about that, and was that a deliberate plan to knock him out of action?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, he's one very good player that I could have taken out of the field (laughter).
But we were instructed to go through a pretty narrow gap and there was four of us on the GolfBoards. So Rickie and Henrik were out front and Rory and I were kind of going this way together and I kind of slowed down and bumped the back of his board. Fortunately his ankles stayed on the board, so that was nice.
But yeah, we had a good time yesterday. Yeah, it was not deliberate. It was the first time I think for everybody on those boards. We're just happy that we're all standing today and ready to go.
Q. An Olympic Gold Medal or a major championship this year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Both. That's a question that really only would get me in trouble to actually answer.
Q. That's why I asked you.
JORDAN SPIETH: To be honest, I don't know. It's unsure, and it will be I think unsure for ten to 20 years how significant a Gold Medal will be in golf.
For me, the way I look at it right now, I look at them equal. Just because to say you're a Gold Medal -- you won a Gold Medal for your country in the Olympics, some day you could go ahead and lie and say it was a triathlon or you could say it was whatever (laughter) and seem like a real athlete.
But I look at them equally now but it's very early to tell how they will end up comparing to major championships in the future. But if I had not won a major, I would probably still say a major. At this point I would argue that a Gold Medal would be very, very special.
Q. Rory was also mentioning the draw with you and Rickie is something that gives him a real buzz, and he's had it before playing here with Tiger. I wonder after the year you've had, if you have that same buzz.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, definitely. You know, Rory coming off of a long break and then Rickie; I played with Rickie a practise round in Hawai'i and he's playing well. I guess he had a little bit of rust, I think is what he was saying, which is normal there.
I'm very excited about the pairing, yeah. I figured that we'd all be split up, so yesterday I was on the course when I found out and I was very excited. Yeah, it's a tremendous opportunity for us three. We very rarely get this pairing and very rarely will going forward.
So we'll take advantage and try and really feed off of each other. We all want to beat each other pretty bad, so that should help us out within our group.
Q. Given your World Rankings, if you had not been put together, would you have been looking for boards to see what the other leading guys were doing?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I'd be looking for who's leading, but names, I wouldn't look for certain names. I would be looking at just who is at the top.
Q. Rickie was telling us that Team USA is already 1-up yesterday in the Rider Cup, the R-i-d-e-r version of it. But given what you have done last year and your status in world golf and what you mean to American golf right now, how much are you looking forward to 2016 Hazeltine and what does it mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a huge goal this year for me, and possibly at the very top of the list to try and get that win as a team. We are tired of hearing about changes that need to be made. We are tired of hearing about the past. And we're ready to believe in kind of a younger -- younger, more hungry team going forward.
It looks like it's going to be a younger average-age team than what we've had. I don't think that maybe makes a difference. But what I mean by that is there's less scar tissue there. Rickie has been on I think two losing teams. I've been on one. You've got guys like Brooks and Justin and Patrick, a number of guys who are young, fiery, have good success in different team environments going back to their amateur and junior days.
It's a different animal in The Ryder Cup, I honestly believe that. But we have a lot of momentum at this very point in time right now. It's still a long ways until Hazeltine, but if we can continue what we've been doing over this past kind of year in young American golf, we're going to go in and get in that team room and be pretty excited about who is next to us.
Q. You talked at Kapalua about how well you putted that week. When you're coming off a week like that, is it hard to resist the urge to continue to work on something and maybe focus on your ball-striking, like you said?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've had a little less time here than I did there. I was over there a week and a half early and played a lot and was on those greens quite a bit. I just stick in the same -- I'm just trying to do the exact same routine putting.
I don't think that I've changed any amount of time that I've spent on the range versus putting versus chipping. I've kind of got a bit of a routine I've been going through in Kapalua, working a bit on my sand games. I spent a little extra time in the bunker with my wedge play. But other than that, I would say about the same amount of time on the greens.
Even coming off of a fantastic putting week, that can mean two things: One, could you say, well, it's good, you can go focus somewhere else. Or, you could say, this is where I wanted to be, let me go ahead and get as many repetitions as I can so that it is the norm.
Q. They are letting players over here wear shorts on The European Tour --
JORDAN SPIETH: I did not get the memo today or I would not be wearing pants right now. (Laughter).
I think it's awesome. I don't see -- I think it will be something that I would love to see on the PGA Tour, as well. Guys seem to all love it over here. I've not heard one person, one Tour player complain about it. And most of the guys that are really talking highly of it are the older guys oddly enough.
Yeah, I think it's a great move. I just wish that my hotel was closer. I would have gone back (laughter).
Q. Given it's a compact season, how important is it to get the schedule right this year, given The Ryder Cup, the Olympic Games, and the four majors, of course.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's very important. I'm looking into late spring, looking at events -- looking at potential breaks to try and almost re-set and get ready, because once we hit the U.S. Open, it's just absolutely crazy through The Ryder Cup.
So if I continue the pace I've been going at, I doubt I'll have strength then. So I'm going to need to make some adjustments. I'm not sure where they will be yet, but we are looking into it.
Q. When you go to Rio, is there sort of an athlete that you would like to sit down and have a good old chinwag and work out what they do in their own sport? Have you thought about that?
JORDAN SPIETH: That's many. To name one would be hard. I'd like to sit down with Steph Curry. I'd like to sit down -- I mean, you could go through each sport if you wanted to.
I'm not sure what it's going to be like there. I know in the Olympic Village, you can kind of have free game to go wherever, but I know that it's probably split up significantly based on gender and athletics, your sport. I'm interested to see what it's like. But if you can come in contact with some of the all-time greats and what they do, I'd love to pick their brain. It can't hurt at all.
Q. You talked about the young Americans in The Ryder Cup. A lot of good young Europeans, too, coming through. Do you sense maybe there's a changing of the guard in golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: I just feel that -- I don't know if there's a significant change. I think that given junior golf and amateur golf has become so well organised, and courses have gotten more challenging; they have become very similar to tour events, European or PGA Tour events. Players just seem to be more equipped when they first get out.
I think that technology has certainly helped a lot. But I think that the level of competition, whether the game -- I know statistically, I think the numbers worldwide are going down, but within a high level of junior and amateur golf, the play is getting better and better.
And I think that that competition with each other, along with the technology to make these golf courses more challenging, even if they are not, having to take time off, getting ready for a Tour event, they are just coming out and nobody is afraid. They see the course, they make a couple birdies early and they are ready to go. They see, I've been through this before and you kick off the nerves.
I think that's the trend that's coming. It's hard for me to tell but that's what's happened with me. I felt very well prepared for the PGA Tour after getting some starts as an amateur and then comparing them to those events I was playing. It made it an easier transition.
Q. You've got a real hunger to be a winner in The Ryder Cup. In a way, how helpful was it being on the losing side at Gleneagles to get that hunger?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not very helpful. I'd rather just win each time (laughter). I mean, I was hungry enough to start. I didn't need anymore. We had heard enough about our losses, you know, and we'll continue to hear that.
You know, we're going to I think go in believing that it's just a completely clean slate. The Ryder Cup trend in our mind, when we get there this year, it starts over. And I think that's kind of the strategy we are going to take. We are all going to listen to our captain. We are going to listen to our assistant captains, and they are going to listen to us.
And it's going to be an effort that we are going to have to all as team members, put a lot of thought into this ahead of time on how we want to prepare, so that when we get there, we know the teams, we can then play matches against each other. We don't have to figure stuff out last minute. And I think that's going to be important for us, to just kind of ease the transition and get a lot of the noise away.
If we go in believing that The Ryder Cup, this is the inaugural event, this is a clean slate, we are ready to go and start a new trend, then I think we'll be fine.
Q. I just wonder how your mind-set changes, maybe it doesn't at all, as now the clear No. 1 in the world, a double Major winner, I don't want to say the guy with a target on his back, but the centre of attention in golf in a lot of ways. Are you conscious to not let that change your attitude and approach?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think there's two ways of going forward with that. One is you can be satisfied and think about all the stuff you've done. Or two, you can look at what these guys who you've looked up to your whole life have accomplished more than you have, right.
So look at Tiger, Phil -- this is still our generation, Tiger, Phil, Rory, these guys that have done more in the game of golf than I have, and I want to strive to get to what they have done. I want my name to go down in history for as many things as it can. That's where my mind is, is I'm less satisfied with what's happened and more hungry to try and keep it going.
I understand that it doesn't happen overnight. It's a marathon; it's not a sprint. I'm willing to kind of put in that time and go through kind of the process. And you're going to have good weeks, you're going to have off-week, I understand that. But as long as you can get just a little bit better each year, then the results will come.
NEIL AHERN: Jordan, thank you very much for joining us and hope you have a great week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports