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March 9, 2016

Jordan Spieth

Palm Harbor, Florida


DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'd like to welcome the world's No. 1 and defending champion of the Valspar Championship, Jordan Spieth. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes.

Obviously a tournament that's near and dear to your heart with your finish in 2013 which obviously led to quite a few impressive wins after that and among them was a dramatic playoff victory here last year. So, welcome back to a place that's obviously near and dear to you.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I was actually watching a bit of the re-run last night with Michael, kind of the playoff, it was just pretty exciting to watch, had a few tough up and downs last few holes, made a few putts and ultimately knocked a long one in the playoff and really got a nice jump start to closing out tournaments in '15 and continued throughout the year and, yeah, very special place like you said going back to 2013. I'm excited that now extended the sponsorship through 2020.

So, obviously going to be held here in a place that I really enjoy coming to and feel that fits my game well. That's obviously great news for me as well as the Tour and for Valspar.

So, excited for this week. Even though the last couple events weren't exactly what I was looking for, I did actually place the same last week that I did in 2015 so that course just doesn't fit me very well.

All I'm looking to take out is some momentum from what was strong and to build on what I need to do to improve from last week and I'll be ready to go come tomorrow.

DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll jump in and take a few questions.

Q. Jordan, what specifically about the win here on this course, the greens, the feel, the way you won it prepared you to win the Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a difficult golf course which I think in the Top-5 normally most difficult non-major golf courses of the year which is great preparation for the Majors.

Anytime you can play a challenging course it requires patience, it requires allowing the course to kind of come to you, take chances in certain specific spots instead of being able to just fire away.

So that helps.

The greens are very different from Augusta National. I wouldn't call anything similar in that category. But tee to green it's very important to place the ball not only in the fairway but try and hit it on the correct sides of the fairways for angles into these smaller greens.

Augusta National has big greens but they're almost in different sections so almost a few different smaller ones where it pays to be on different sides of the fairway.

Mapping out each hole is very similar.

Q. Can you talk about the difference of how you feel about your game this year versus last year when you got here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I feel -- I've actually been off to a better start in 2016 than I was in 2015. I'm in a better place right now -- I feel like I am in a better place on the PGA TOUR season right now than I was last year.

I finished maybe 4th in L.A. and 7th in Phoenix and Peeble and whatnot, but we've had a win this year already and obviously the last few PGA TOUR events weren't up to par with how we were doing before but I'm looking at it from we've already won this year, now it's time to build this momentum right into this Major.

L.A. was just one bad round for me and other than that, everything has been kind of the same as previous years starting out the year.

So, feel pretty good. Really need to get my putter going. Hasn't really clicked yet. Feels fine. Haven't quite gone in yet. But they will. Wedge play needs to just improve. But my driving of the golf ball is better I feel better than it was last year and my iron striking has been consistent from last week into this week.

Q. Jordan, you've been back Augusta a couple times now. Is that where you really reflected on what you accomplished or had it already occurred before you ever got back there?
JORDAN SPIETH: Certainly that week, I was able to reflect on that week. I wouldn't say the whole year. But, yeah, it was being on the grounds there made a significant impact on kind of reliving those moments moreso than just any other time at home.

The few weeks after, you know, the trip to New York and the kind of just aftermath because there's quite a bit of time before -- in between the Masters and the U.S. Open, you know, I was able to certainly enjoy it before grinding for the U.S. Open but being back on the grounds in December was really, really cool.

Q. Jordan, compared to last year, obviously you come in under the radar and the whirlwind for you last season.
How has your world changed with all those victories and coming in with the No. 1 title and do you feel different coming into this tournament in what ways?

JORDAN SPIETH: I'd like to think I wasn't necessarily under the radar last season at this time. I'd like to think my couple years on Tour were solid before last season but certainly we stepped up our game.

Yeah, it's different now. It's a different feeling than certainly past couple years. It's a good feeling. Just builds more and more confidence I feel like. I feel like instead of trying to get in contention and then test out how to close, now we have a formula to be able to close out tournaments.

Whether the breaks go your way or not, that's not for me to necessarily say but mentally I'm there when I'm in contention and I feel more and more comfortable now therefore I'm most confident when I arrive prior to the week even starting, whether it's here or anywhere else.

Here I feel -- anytime you come to a place where you've won, you feel, very, very, very comfortable because it's already happened and you can visualize it.

Q. With apologies, you said something on TV the other night and the volume was down in the bar and closed captioning didn't do you justice.
So, that said, there's a story about something you picked up from Tiger on the 16th at Augusta during a practice round but I didn't catch all of it.

I wonder if you could talk about that and obviously it's an attention to detail. Is that something you always had and how did you pick that up? Not missing a trick, basically.

JORDAN SPIETH: I think anybody who loves the game and has admired the greats of the game would pay attention to somebody like Tiger Woods or Ben Crenshaw and what they do at Augusta National.

So, I wouldn't say it's just something that carries over anywhere. I think that would be pretty normal in that case.

And what I was talking about was a story of the putt on 16 at the Masters last year, my par putt on Sunday I felt like really sealed the deal. 17 and 18 you can kind of -- as much as I wanted to birdie every single hole, that was a chance for Justin Rose to possibly snag a two shot swing and after he missed his putt I could make mine and stay up four with two to play and that's pretty much in the bag.

What I said was I was walking off the green in the practice round on Wednesday playing with Ben and Tiger and I turned around and, you know, as I do on every green I turn around and kind of look at it from a different angle, kind of see the various slopes, whatever it is and I saw Tiger hitting these putts from the back left part of the green towards what would be Sunday pin and I think it's maybe Friday.

They have two pins over there on the back left part and I just remember noticing how the ball broke so significantly and didn't stop running even though there's a slope off of the back of the bunker there.

Everyone knows that green from Tiger's chip shot, there's a huge slope. Everyone knows that slope is there. Unless you're on the grounds, there's actually a good four degree slope off the bunker going the other way. It's almost like a valley, it still breaks into that valley.

I remember just watching that putt and noticing how much it broke and it kind of threw me off. Wow -- I watched him hit quite a few of them. He obviously knew that was a tricky putt and sure enough I ended up having a very similar putt, maybe a slightly different angle for par to really clinch the Masters and which the toughest part about it is you got to trust hitting to -- hitting to a spot, hitting a putt to a spot that you think is going to miss and if it does miss you've got four feet left then and still being able to trust it on that line because you already seen it happen before.

That's what was really cool about that putt for me.

Q. It wasn't an arranged practice round? Was he kind of an uninvited guest that day as it were?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes. He can be an uninvited guest to any round I ever play. That's fine with me (laughter).

Yeah, I was planning on playing with Mr. Crenshaw and he came up. He said, "Hey, what are you guys doing?" I said, "We're going to shoot off the back-9." He said, "Do you mind if I join?" I said, "Sure" (laughter).

Q. Going to Austin in a couple weeks, wondering what role does your time there, especially 2012 full year kind of play in your development and what's the biggest things you took from that year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Very significant. It taught more than anything time management on and off the golf course. You're now on your own. You're kind of creating your own schedule in a way, whether you're creating do you want classes in the evenings, do you want them in the morning, what exactly do you want to do to make sure you can have the full college experience and that's what I wanted at Texas and that's what I got even briefly.

We spent sometime in Austin Country Club quite a bit. We I'd go there everyday before we traveled so I spent lot of time playing that golf course.

In my development, yeah, you're also stepping up your game and on our team our team won 8 times that season so I was playing against the best players in the country on a daily basis at the University of Texas Golf Club and Austin Country Club.

That's going the make anybody a better player. Our entire team got better because we played against each other. Coach certainly help helped us out. He was there to do anything for us. Our facilities were fantastic and so I had more time to work on my game. I had more time to learn how to -- I was a communications major so hopefully had more time to learn how to speak. I had -- speak the correct way.

Yeah, just -- I had to learn how to be disciplined and working hard in everything I did. That's what I loved to do. I'm a passionate person and I don't -- very competitive so whether it's in the classroom or it's on the course, it kind of opened me up to be able to kind of learn how to do it my way.

Q. Jordan, in the couple of events you've got left before you go to Augusta, are you thinking about playing those shots when you get to Augusta?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so. I play the shots required to try and compete and win wherever we're at. Every course is very different and every course is very different from Augusta National so I don't think that I'll be looking into different shots.

I've played the Masters where a fade was a natural shot for me, I think in 2014. Last year I was more comfortable with a draw. It doesn't really matter as long as you can hit both if you need them.

You obviously need to hit the hook around 10 and like it on 13. You can work with a straight ball or little fade around that place for the majority of the holes. So, there's not one shot I'm trying to hit higher or lower. I'm just trying to get in contention and see where I'm at in my game when the pressure is on.

That's what I said last year leading into it. That's the plan this year because that's when we find out where it is.

Q. In all the excitement going to the Masters, is there any sort of anything that you're maybe nervous about?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, sure. I think there's -- you know, because you want to validate it obviously anywhere. Just like coming back here, I think this is going to be great trying to defend the first event that we have to defend in 2016.

I imagine that feeling will be somewhat similar being on course but, yeah, there's going to be nerves anytime playing in a Major. I don't know if there's going to be added nerves because of last year but I'll certainly still be nervous on the first tee.

Q. Jordan, I want to ask you about your putter, the 009. What about that putter made you stay with it for as long as you have and do you have to resist the temptation when you're going through a stretch like this when you're out there?
JORDAN SPIETH: I haven't been putting horrible. I haven't made many of the mid-ones. 009, I haven't always used it. I used it since I was probably 15, 16 years old which is awhile now.

It's got character. I love the way it looks. It's from a triple black finish to now just naturally being rusted. It's got a little nick on the top. It's just got character.

Looks good to me when I set it down. It just looks very, very clean, the lines and it's a very solid putter. It's not very soft. I like that, I like being able to feel in my hands kind of the strike of the ball instead of just feeling like you're gliding through air. Some people like a softer finish.

And the weighting is just distributed nicely for me. So, when putts go in anything looks good but it's a great putter.

Q. Jordan, it's been almost a year but you still find yourself having sort of pinch me-type moments that you're an actual Masters champion? Has it sort of sunk in for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, a bit. There are certainly moments that still yeah, still pinch me moments.

Q. Like when?
JORDAN SPIETH: Certainly on the grounds. But then anytime like I have the jacket with me and so I go in the closet to grab something I see the jacket or I see even the garment bag that says Masters Champion, 2015, something like that. It's just like, "That's mine. Oh, shoot, I got to give that back. Oh, wait, let's try to get this back in our hands," you know.

You sit is there and you're like, "I don't want that thing to go away." It was fun having it with me this last year. I don't want it to stay on the grounds.

Yeah, it's pinched me and it's motivation when I look at it. Certainly on the grounds and you go in the Champions Locker Room and there's the wedge and picture of the shot and kind of a summary of what happened last year, that's really, really cool to see.

Q. Do you always travel with the jacket now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Now -- I didn't always travel with it throughout the year but I would say the majority of the time.

Q. Kind of a wardrobe question as well. Last week at Doral you got fitted with the Olympic uniforms. I know you talked about the importance of the Olympics.
Did that make it a little bit more real for you?

JORDAN SPIETH: To be honest with you, no, because we do that for Ryder Cup, Presidents Cups. It's really cool when it happens because yeah, this is Ryder Cup.

I think more of a couple of interviews I've done where really talking about the Olympics and you start realizing I'm going to get to meet all these athletes and walk in the opening ceremonies and carry the flag.

That's the kind of stuff where it becomes more real. Fitting for the clothes it felt like it was an early on, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup fitting.

Q. You mentioned the playoff last year and for years when Tiger was winning the theory was he was most comfortable in the big pressure moments.
Can you describe your comfort level now in the heat of the big pressure moments and is that something you pull with you at each stage you've gone through or you kind of rebuild at each stage and develop it from there?

JORDAN SPIETH: I'm nowhere near saying it's my most comfortable like he did. We're certainly building towards that. For me now and the biggest pressure moments, the negative thoughts have started to dwindle out of your head, the stuff that wants to creep in oh, what happens if this and that.

When I think back on it that's what's kind of started to go away and it's more there's the line I need to hit it on. Here is the shot.

Just more of a focus and less of kind of negative noise, and it's natural with anybody to have negative noise. I'm not saying I still don't have it but it's certainly shifted towards more focus and the more times you get into that position I imagine it will continue to be so.

But that's where I think has been a big advantage, I can now look back on other extreme pressure situations where you've had success and before that it was, you know, 2014 was a rough year on the PGA TOUR season until the end of the year because every time I was in that situation you know, there were a few good shots but at the end of the day I wasn't holding the trophy and now I can look back on those exact moments that led to having the trophy in your hand and that's really cool.

Q. I believe you'll be grouped with Bryson the first day at Augusta. Have you played with him before and what do you think of his sort of unique approach to golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: I played with him quite a few times, some practice rounds. Played with him at the U.S. Open practice round, played with him in Abu Dubai. I really enjoy playing with Bryson. He's really bright, very confident in his own way of doing things which is important and I think will get him and keep him on the next level.

Yeah, it is unique. I go into his bag all the time, I'm like but he swings I think 90 miles an hour with every single one of his clubs and he sets it and he's done the research and he believes in it and he's seen success with it and that's really all you need.

But yeah, it will be a lot of fun out there. I don't think the moment will overcome him. I think that he'll be ready to go and I think he'll really embrace it and I look for him to actually play pretty well at the Masters this year so it will be a fun grouping.

Q. Jordan, did starting the year with an 8 shot win at all inflate your own expectations and, if so, is that anything you've ever had to deal with before?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think both of those. No, I haven't had to deal with it before but I think it's -- I didn't think it was going to and then I started to get so frustrated when it wasn't the case in the events that followed.

I did a pretty good job last week of not setting the expectations high but that course is going to make you -- it's really bad for player/caddy relationships as well as a player/golf club relationship. You don't like your clubs or your caddy after that week (laughter).

But I set lower expectations given I note the course isn't a great fit for me. So we come into this week, we both knew it. Went into the final round and said you know what, we just want to hit good shots. If it doesn't turn out the way you want it to turn out at least we hit it where you want to and that's going to work out in the long run.

Just so frustrating. But until then, the four tournaments maybe that I played in between Hawaii and Doral, I certainly think the expectation that I put on myself were too high because of Hawaii and I kind of needed to dial it back a little bit.

Obviously you want to set high end, borderline unrealistic expectations for yourself because if you get anywhere close to it you're going to be there. But there's a balance that I needed to find. It's been a learning experience this year.

Q. Did you have yourself winning 20 times this year?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I just thought that each part of my game and especially my putting would be able to be like that each time if I put in the same amount of work but sometimes different factors inhibit that.

DOUG MILNE: All right. Jordan, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.

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