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February 16, 2016
Pacific Palisades, California
CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome Jordan Spieth here to the media center at the Northern Trust Open.
Jordan, I imagine it's good to be back at Riviera. If you could, some opening comments on how you're looking forward to this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: We were talking yesterday during that college Pro-Am, this is my fourth Northern Trust Open and fifth tournament here including the National Championship in 2012. So I've probably played this course close to 30 times now, which is a lot compared to other tournaments. It's one of my favorites in the entire world. I was out yesterday and it's just in spectacular shape.
It's going to be -- if it continues to bake out, looks like we might get some rain tomorrow, but it's already -- yesterday was already in tournament condition. It was already where you know, 10-under, I would imagine would win the tournament if it were held on four rounds with yesterday's conditions.
So it's pretty spectacular that that can happen on a Monday and they don't have to do a whole lot to this course to make it that challenging. Love being here. Love being in the L.A. area. It's just a really nice week for everyone.
Q. I want to know what it would mean for you to win this tournament, considering the tradition, the history of it, and also your history, your success here, even as a collegiate player.
JORDAN SPIETH: It's one of the very few with the history that it has, past champions, not only just the champions, but just those who have walked these fairways.
And then for me to win on a golf course that I consider one of the top few in the world, I mean, that's always a goal. Yeah, it would be pretty amazing.
Last year, it was a crazy finish and it kind of taught me a little something about this golf course is that you just never know exactly what's going to happen at Riviera coming down the stretch. I was thinking I needed to birdie 18 for a playoff. And my approach shot landed on the fringe. If it lands on the green, I've got probably about 18 feet for birdie, which I'm going to make.
It lands on the fringe and it sticks, so I have to chip it. And from there, I lot a little aggressive with the chip, not wanting to leave it short, make sure you fly it far enough, and I ended up missing about an eight-foot par putt that I thought, you know, obviously was important but I didn't think it would have been to get into a playoff.
Turns out, with I think Dustin and Sergio bogeying the 17th, a little downbreeze, it ended up -- I ended up one out of the three-way playoff.
So a little bizarre, but that just kind of teaches you how it works sometimes. Sometimes it's not birdies to win. Sometimes on harder golf courses, even on a TOUR event and it's a non-major championship, sometimes par is a really good score. Unfortunately it's rare, but fortunately, it happens here. So it would mean a lot to win this tournament.
Q. On that topic of this being a golf course you know as well as any you play on the TOUR, is there anything you do to kind of combat a little complacency in your preparation for it, and what do you generally do, kind of reflecting on last year and looking at yardage books and all that stuff just to kind of reacquaint yourself with the golf course?
JORDAN SPIETH: It doesn't take much here, because I am aware of all the run-off areas. You kind of check out how the rough is in certain places. I did that yesterday.
I played 18 holes yesterday, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do today. I'm going to be doing a lot of practicing, a lot of speed work on the greens. Even though, when you've been to a place you're very familiar with, there's still a lot to do that tournament week as far as trying to adjust from the prior week.
I mean, you can go back in your memory, and I can picture all the holes, I know where the pins are, I know where the breaks are on those greens. But you've still got to get on to the practice greens and then dial in the feel, dial in the speed.
This poa annua putts differently than it did last week at the courses that we played there in Pebble Beach, and so you've got to really -- you've got to be careful here. It can get away from you very quickly. And it's hard to get below the hole. That's the thing out here. So you start to go to the driving range and I'll start to try and work on some shots where you kind of float ones in, work on a lot of shots that you can loft up in the air more than maybe you would do last week.
So there's still a lot of adjustments to be made, even if you are familiar with the place, because with the weather here compared to what it could be last week, normally it's less wind here and it's more positioning. You've got to be in the fairways, even with little rough, to be able to hold these greens. You start working on a lot of different shots.
Q. The 72-hole scoring record has lasted longer than any other PGA TOUR course on the yesterday, and why do you think that is and does it surprise you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure what it is or when it was shot.
Q. Lanny Wadkins, 20-under.
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know if that were the case or he just played out of his mind, but I would imagine it was playing soft -- softer. Holes like No. 10, they start to bake out, you get that shiny grass that you get at the U.S. Open on that back, that right half of that green. Just makes it so hard to even hold a wedge on the green with a perfect number.
To be honest, it is incredible. You know in that amount of time, the course has certainly played softer. It's certainly played firmer. You've seen all the conditions, with that amount of time, it's amazing it can hold. I don't think it will be broken this week.
If it is, that's some incredible playing or they have done something with the pin positions that are different than normal. But it's just so hard to keep the ball below the hole and it's hard to make putts from above it out here.
You can hit perfect mid-iron shots into these greens, but if it lands on the front fringe, it will stick, and all of a sudden you're left with 20 feet kind of sliding. And if it lands on the green, a lot of times it will pitch past the hole, and even from six feet, a lot of times, you've got to just be careful. I think that's why, even with greens in regulation, it's very difficult to make a lot of birdies.
Q. Spend much time with Lanny?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have; Tucker Wadkins, his son, I grew up playing junior golf with. I've hit balls next to Lanny and spoken with him quite a few times, yeah.
Q. Ten years ago up the road at the Rose Bowl, there was a No. 1 versus 2 college football match up that you were probably quite pleased with the outcome. Is there a No. 1 versus 2 sporting match-up that you would pay to attend?
JORDAN SPIETH: When that National Championship took place, I was 12 I think (laughter), and I was equally considering USC and Texas. So people from -- my Texas Longhorn family probably won't like me saying that. But at the time I was looking into visiting both schools on unofficial visits once I was really a sophomore in high school.
Q. So Vince Young is why you went to Texas?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, no, that didn't convince me to go either. I was still equally considering afterwards, but I was rooting for Texas given I was in Dallas with a lot of family and friends who are obviously Texas fans.
But what an -- it was Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, there was a number of Pro Bowlers and college football Hall of Famers in that game. I remember watching it.
But to answer your question, yeah, pretty much any sport, any one. When you get head-to-head match-ups, whether it's teams, I'm very intrigued in like a Warriors, Cavaliers game, really Warriors anything right now, they are so fun to watch. You get Djokovic/Federer, Djokovic/Nadal, Murray, those kind of tennis matches are pretty fun.
Golf is different because you have a full field. But yeah, I'm always very interested in 1 versus 2. Everybody is. It adds a little bit to it. It means the No. 1 spot is up for grabs, right.
Q. That reminds me, when you think of Roger Federer, you mentioned Fed and Djokovic, is there anything you take from the way they carry themselves as world No. 1 and apply it to where you're at now and learn from them at all?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's really amazing how anywhere from two to five tennis players at a time can just completely carry the sport. It's bizarre. It seems like you've got three of the top four ranked, always, in the semifinal matches.
Federer just handles himself with complete class. He always has. Everyone is a fan of Roger. Everyone I've come in contact to is a fan of watching him. Very technically sound, very smooth. Djokovic with his fire and just absolute crazy athletic display he's been showing over the last, you know, decade, really.
Yeah, you can certainly take a lot from watching those guys and understanding that even when they were No. 1, it seemed like that almost fueled them to want to work even harder, which you don't necessarily see everywhere across the board in life. I mean, a lot of times you get to the top of where you want to be and it's just kind of like a deep breath out. These guys were just starting their breath. It's pretty cool.
Q. The coach that's been with you for so long, Cameron McCormick, how instrumental has that been to be with just that one coach in the competition?
JORDAN SPIETH: It just adds to a level of trust. If I had started with Cameron two years ago, I'd still probably think he's as smart as I think he is now.
But being with him for that amount of time, you have another level of trust; that anything that gets off, he's seen before. He's been able to move me in the right direction to where we both can figure out a solution wherever it may be in my game.
We've kind of seen everything now and I think that -- most everything. I think that's very useful.
Q. Last year you had so much success and you are with so meticulous about everything. Sometimes you mentioned that you were very fortunate and/or lucky to do some of the things that you did. Is it your meticulous preparation that keeps the golf gods from frowning upon you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. That's a question I've never really had to answer before. It's been said a lot of times that the harder you work, the luckier you get, right. I don't think I'm the hardest -- I mean, I believe that I work very hard at what I do. I don't believe that I put in necessarily the most hours of anybody. Nobody does -- Vijay Singh does. After Vijay, you know, then you can go down the list.
But you're going to, I do it my way. We have kind of our way of doing things in preparation to get the right amount of time on the course, the right amount of time on the range, the putting green, the chipping green and then the right amount of rest.
And all of that needs to be done, even if golf, where you're not necessarily moving around physically like you are in a sport like tennis or basketball or football. You're not getting beat up like that. But we are -- it requires a lot of rest and rehab, even throughout tournament weeks, for how much torque you put into your body and whatnot.
So I think that we have the right balance, the right team, and I think last year kind of proved that we could do it throughout a season and stay in contention in the biggest events, so I have full confidence in that.
Sure, you're going to get good breaks, you're going to get bad breaks. For me, the more you look at it as hopefully I'm out here for 30 more years, you're going to see a lot of both. So don't let either one get to you too much, ups or downs.
Q. Coach Fields was on the bag for Beau yesterday. What kind of nostalgia was brought up, what memories from 2012?
JORDAN SPIETH: Coach was out there last year and we were doing the same. We were recalling, kind of letting Beau in, hey, this is where this match was, and this is where I holed out to beat Justin Thomas, and oh, let's take a video and send it to Justin of the 15th hole. He's going to hate me now.
But it's just fun -- he was very interested in where Dylan Frittelli holed his putt to win the National Championship, where the pin was, where the putt was from. We were pointing that out. He also made a 2 on 18 in one of the stroke-play rounds to help us get to match play.
Yeah, we were recalling. It's fun. It's always fun being back here. I know Coach gets on property here and he has such a big smile on his face. I think in his mind, kind of the coolest moment of his professional career, and you could see it and hear it as what comes out of him as we're out here.
It's just fun being part of; I love that event yesterday.
Q. Along those same lines, imagine it's been awhile since you've had a chance to play with Beau and he's talking about how much he's learned from you. What did you make of his game yesterday and how much did you guys talk about where you're at versus where he wants to be?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, Beau has very, very little fear and I think that's going to really help propel him. He just kind of shuns off the idea that it's tough to get out here, it's tough to do this all the time, to make your way on to the PGA TOUR from no status. He just kind of like, "Yeah, yeah, okay. Well then how is this course this playing to what it plays in the tournament," and trying to figure out where pins are. He's just always interested in preparation, even if -- yesterday, he was trying to work his way into the event.
But I think that he's got a great sense of confidence in his golf game and confidence in his ability to be out here without expressing it in a cocky or any kind of manner. He goes about his business. I like his game. It's very solid. There's no -- doesn't seem to have weaknesses. Seems to kind of have each shot.
I think as he just continues to get a bit more consistent in every part of his game, it's just going to get better. I don't think he'll have any problem making it out here, whenever he decides to make the move.
Q. I'm from Japanese TV, and you and Matsuyama are the same young generation, you are 22 and he's 23 years old. So what do you see his clutch performance, like he did with Management playoff?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think Phoenix showed Rickie and Hideki are both clutch. Those putts aren't easy to hole. To get into the playoff and then in the playoff, especially when you're hitting the second one.
I thought it was pretty remarkable that he just kind of hung in there. Rickie made -- he really got a bad bounce from what I saw. I didn't watch it live. I saw the replays. Rickie got a bad bounce in order to go in the water that first time. He was just floating that drive or trying to hit it where Hideki's ball was or where Hideki's ended up after.
But just to hang in there and understand that if he pulls off the shots -- I mean, to go birdie, birdie on those last two holes, 17 is an easier hole but you've still got to do it. I thought it was very clutch, and everyone saw that it was clutch from both of them and are now aware that they are capable of it. If they weren't already, if they weren't aware already, and it makes it just a little bit harder to beat him.
Q. I wanted to get your thoughts on the unique par 3, 6th. How would you describe that hole and how do you attack it this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Just seems like you play two different par 3s, either play the right green par 3 or the left green par 3. You can't go on the other side of where the pin is. So I think it's really cool. I think it's a cool par 3 because it's normally a 6- or 5-iron. You're not having to hit 3-iron into that green. When the pins are up, the tee boxes are a little up and you might even be able to hit 7 depending on the wind. But I think the distance and the way the green slopes, brings 2 in and it brings 4 in pretty easily and I think that makes a great par 3.
I think golf courses a lot of times are rated and in my opinion, ranked based on their par 3s, and I think that some phenomenal ones here -- 4, you just try and make a 12 for the week and get the heck out of there.
But the rest of them, really good shots. You're going to have nice, close birdie putts, and you know, if you miss it off to the side, with a 6-iron, if you've got a ten, 15-yard gap, as professionals, you should be able to hit a 6-iron in that gap and if you don't, you're going to be in trouble.
Q. Before you ever came to Riviera for the first time, just curious if you can remember what you knew about the place, and as a Texan, how big a shadow does Ben Hogan cast over this venue?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I knew it was one of the few Hogans Alleys. I knew the tree line. I knew of it dipping down into the valley and just kind of being played down in this valley and then kind of working its way back up 18. I had always seen pictures of the first tee box. I always thought it was such a cool shot, and obviously up the 18th, as well.
The massive -- the big trees, like off 11, the Eucalyptus trees, just beautiful trees and massive. The ball can get struck in them. Did I say it right?
Q. I think so.
JORDAN SPIETH: You could have said anything there. (Laughter) I should know that.
I played with Freddie. Freddie got a ball struck in the tree. I've played -- you've really got to work your ball-striking both directions into these greens, as well as with different heights, and I think that it's just -- that's what makes it so good.
I think that even without having -- the look off the tee, the look off No. 3 tee box, you think you have 70 yards that you can hit the ball, because, hey, there's not much rough. And if it goes in the fairway, great. And if it's just off, you're still hitting wedge or 9-iron out of the rough. Well, if you're in that rough, you're not going to hold that green because the green is pitched down. You have to work a really high shot and you have to work a draw kind of into one side of the green and work a cut into the other.
It just requires all parts of the game and a variety of ball-striking. And then once you're there, you've got to have great speed control. It's an all around fantastic golf course that you don't get away with poor shots at all.
Q. You're at this tournament last year with one win, you've won six times since then. What area of your game do you think has improved the most since 12 months ago when you were sitting here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's all gotten a bit more consistent. I think my confidence in my entire game, when pressure comes on, I can now really relate and look back to a lot of key moments where I've hit shots in the past when the pressure has been on where I felt like I did what I wanted to do.
I mean, that in its own is kind of priceless experience that I can then get up and do it again. I wouldn't necessarily call one part. I think I've gotten a lot better putting under pressure, but really, to be able to stand up and really focus in on a specific target, and work either ball flight on to that target, whether it's driving it or striking an iron shot, that's definitely improved when the pressure is on. I'm not think as much about boards and positioning as much as I am that shot.
Q. You're paired first two rounds with Justin Thomas. What's your reaction to that, and how soon about the trash talking, mind games, 15th hole come up?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have not received the pairings yet, so that's the first I've heard.
CHRIS REIMER: Justin and Freddie.
JORDAN SPIETH: That's fun. That's cool. (Laughter) that will be awesome.
Yeah, now Freddie -- Couples or Jacobson?
CHRIS REIMER: Couples.
JORDAN SPIETH: Jacobson was playing great last week.
Played with Freddie here before. I always know what to expect out here with him with the crowds. They love Freddie here.
And with Justin, no, I don't think we'll -- yeah, we'll probably bring up -- yeah, me and Mike will probably bring up our past here. But there will be nothing better for Justin than trying to kick my butt on this golf course after all the things we've gone through letting him know about it here.
The only reason we give him that crap is because he got his National Championship the next year. So we've each had our time. It's going to be a lot of fun, yeah. My initial reaction is very, very positive to that pairing.
Q. As an L.A. native, I'm curious where a 12-year-old Texan would be considering USC, and also, if it rains tomorrow night or Thursday morning, how does that affect your mind-set going into this thing?
JORDAN SPIETH: In all honesty, a huge thing for me USC was I heard that they had four playing memberships at Riviera. So when I came on my visit, I was offered one of the memberships at Riviera for the time you're at USC, and that's a pretty awesome perk.
I was looking into USC, UCLA and Stanford and I was looking at Oklahoma State and Texas. Two were close to home and I liked California and I liked being out here. I was considering those. Not really sure why. Just they had great teams, good coaches, loved being out here for exactly what everyone else does, the weather and scenery.
Q. And the rain?
JORDAN SPIETH: It doesn't change much. I don't think that it will -- I don't think it will pour enough to change the golf course completely. It will depend on the draw, if I'm in the afternoon Thursday, I'll be able to see a lot of how it's playing in the morning. If not, you just kind of got to figure it out. I'll still plan for it to be firm. This golf course can firm up very quickly.
Q. What did Texas offer you, cash?
JORDAN SPIETH: Wow (laughter) no, they didn't. They offered me a fantastic college experience.
Q. Last week at Pebble when you were talking about you and your dad visiting Augusta in December and I think, did you say -- and I'm trying to remember, that it actually played a little more difficult than during the Masters, and also, I think you said you shot 76-66 or 66-76. Were you seriously keeping score or were you just goofing around a little bit, and were you playing against anybody?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think the rounds I've played in December in the past, it's been really cold, and tee-to-green, it plays much more difficult than it does during the tournament. But it doesn't, overall, I wouldn't necessarily say it plays harder, because the greens aren't as fast and the pins are not in the same places.
This time, they had sped the greens up -- the first time we were back, the first round we played, they put them in last year's Sunday hole locations, which is pretty cool. They sped the greens up and it was warm, so it actually played somewhat similar. The ball still doesn't roll in the fairway when they are trying to grow that grass in.
I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was something like, 74 or 76 or something, 66, 67, 74 or 76. Yeah, I was keeping score but I had not practiced going into it.
Q. You played three rounds?
JORDAN SPIETH: I played four rounds in three days.
Q. So you went up and down, up and down?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I started out, I hit like four or five water balls that first round we played. But I was playing with Jay and my dad and Jeff Knox, and technically, I was playing against Jay, and I think I birdied 17 and 18 to shoot like 76 or something. And I think I might have edged him by a shot from the same tees, and then those middle two rounds, I played 36 in the same day and played great. And then the last day, I guess I was just -- I just hacked it around again.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Justin, good luck this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: My name's Jordan (laughter).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports