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March 22, 2016
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome back World No. 1 Jordan Spieth. Welcome back to Austin, Texas, Jordan. Please start with some opening comments about playing back in your collegiate hometown and also just about your season so far.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, very excited. I've been excited since the Tour approached me a couple of years ago with the possibility of coming to Austin. I've been kind of looking forward to this week since then. It's nice.
I had great feedback from other players about the town and the golf course, specifically. I always loved coming out here in college. I probably played out here or we came out here at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. So it's a place I'm very familiar with and feel I have an advantage at. They made some changes, but for the most part it's the same golf course, with newly sodded areas. They've done just a phenomenal job with it, and I think it's going to be a fantastic match play course.
Q. With Austin being a place you probably come to unwind, what's it like coming here to go to the office?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably do a little bit of both, yeah. Ideally this is a really long week, so you've got to kind of pick your spots to grind and pick your spots to relax. I certainly know where to relax here, and I've spent plenty of time working here, as well, working on my game in school.
It's a little different, sure, yeah. I'm not used to staying in a hotel in Austin. I used to come back here and stay on my buddies' couches when I came back. That's a little different. I haven't really stayed downtown before, stayed overnight downtown. But it's cool. I've got spots I love to go to eat and kind of hang out and get to do that this week, which makes me feel more at home.
Q. You've played well in all the Texas events. They've all had an imprint on you. Why is the Dallas one the toughest one, and can you also speak to what it's like playing in your state?
JORDAN SPIETH: Why is the Dallas one the toughest one? I've actually had great history in Dallas, not the very top of the leaderboard, but it was what -- those high school years are important. But I think recently it's been -- I don't think the golf courses fits me as well as the other golf courses. I think I can still win on that golf course, and that's certainly a goal of mine is to win with the tournament there before it moves. I approach that week, like I've always said, as a very important week on the calendar to try and play my best in front of everyone there. That can be difficult sometimes. But I couldn't really explain it to you.
I think last year we finished inside the top-20, so I can maybe use that as momentum because the previous years we were making the cut and just kind of falling back from there. But there and Colonial back-to-back, it's obviously a time in the schedule I'd like to be playing my best golf.
Q. With the world No. 1 on the line this weekend, how much does that play into your game versus how much you're just trying to get ready for the Masters, and you want to protect that No. 1?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, it doesn't. The No. 1 gets protected if I do what we set out to do this week. If these guys -- Jason, with the phenomenal win last week, and what a finish that was, going for it and then hitting a great bunker shot and putt. I watched it. It was fun to watch a friend do that. It drives you. It motivates you.
Adam has had a phenomenal year. Yeah, you've got a lot of Masters champions and Masters guys who have really played very well in the Masters, all winning or right up there leading into it and it's a pretty exciting time for golf right this second. I'd like to join in on that starting this week, in my kind of road of a three-week stretch to the Masters.
But the No. 1 ranking, that's a label that, sure, you'd like to have, because it means you continue to play good golf. But I don't focus on the points and the divider. I focus on doing my job this week.
Q. You're always very level headed about what's going on around you in this great circus. I wonder if the level of attention and comment on every single thing you do over the last number of months, has that taken you by surprise? Have you had to change anything about the way you act or think because of that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so, for a couple of reasons. One, it's not like that just came up this year. We were in the spotlight last year. We were in the spotlight before. I played golf before 2015, that I don't think a lot of people realized.
Last year was a fantastic year that sets you kind of into a non-golf audience and puts you in the spotlight there. But we were still in it that year. So one way that I don't think it's really changed this year is because I think it's been kind of building up the whole time.
Another thing is I can see what it's like for other athletes, guys that are at the top of their sports, and you can kind of see how they deal with things. I think that I've been able to learn by personally speaking to different athletes that are at the top of their sport, and I think that that's really helped. Around major championships, I just need to take that model into the rest of the PGA Tour golf now, which is just stay away from kind of all the outside influences, whether it's TV, where you see yourself, or it's social media, whatever it may be, just do less of it and find something else to do, whether it's reading or whether it's discovering a new place, going out in your car that week, instead of just sitting around. Because then you're tempted. But, yeah, it's something certainly to work on, but it's nothing that's different.
Q. You said the Sunday at Tampa, it sounded like you wanted to get together with Michael and talk some things through. Did that conversation take place? And how do you feel going forward?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, it did. I feel great going forward. We've had a few different instances in the past few years, where it's nice to have a conversation about kind of where things are, especially going into the majors.
Last year we did it in between Miami and Tampa, and this year we had a conversation on the phone for a while last week. It's pretty simple. Everything has been good. We've had -- our last 12 events, we've had 11 top-20s and two wins. We're in a good place. If we're calling this -- he's like, listen, there's peaks and there's valleys. If you're considering this a valley, then we've got a lot of peaks coming. That's a pretty nice valley to be in, if that's our stats the last 12 events. If we look at it that way, we're in good position.
Q. How did you find yourself at the game last week on the line trying to get Curry to high-five you in that spot?
JORDAN SPIETH: Those are our seats. We sat there. We were fortunate the Mavericks, we have a good relationship with the Mavericks, and we're going to do some stuff with our charities going forward. They were able to kind of hook up me and my friends to sit right there behind the bench. For that game, it just happened to be where the people line up to give high-fives.
I met Steph for the first time and it was a cool experience. What a role model he is. Talked to him a little right after his warmup right before the game, and we stayed after and he was nice enough to come out and hang out with us, even though obviously they had an important game the next day, at least for a couple of minutes.
Q. I was talking to another player, he says when he hears you refer to "our team" or "us" or "we", he said that makes everybody feel that they've been accepted, they're part of the team, and that they've been included in your circle. Is that something you consciously have always done or something that you started doing when you turned pro? When you say stuff like that, what's kind of your thought process behind that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it's certainly not for the sensitivity levels of our team, because it's more because I really believe that since I've turned professional, I've really seen not only -- you didn't have a caddie in college. You had a swing coach and you had a trainer, and you had your coach that was my college coach, John Fields. But you're still kind of not -- it's not the same feeling as it is on Tour where you need all these other things to come together, hard work by everyone that you hire around you, to do their job to make it so that it frees you up, like it was just that easy in college. And that's why I think everyone deserves credit and everyone deserves to know when we all need to improve a little bit. I guess, yeah, it was probably since I turned professional, it just came to me that this is all of us.
Q. Last night Ben Crenshaw said that you selected Salt Lick Barbecue for your Masters meal. I was wondering how many times you went to Salt Lick when you were at UT?
JORDAN SPIETH: I didn't select Salt Lick, I don't know where that was spread from. Augusta National always makes the meals. So they asked what do you want to have for your meal, and I said I'd love to do some Texas barbecue. So they kind of go out and search for a way to make it based on popular places. I'm not sure what it's exactly going to be. But, no, that's not how it works there. But it's going to be Texas barbecue, I'm pretty excited for it.
Q. Your extensive worldwide Tour, do you have any regrets over that and how do you try to fight burnout with all the expectations and everybody pulling on you?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, no regrets at all. I had a great time. I saw some really cool places. Abu Dhabi was a spectacular place. Singapore was a really cool city. I wish it didn't rain as much in Singapore, because you don't get to see the city as much as you normally would, because you have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to restart for the day. Those are really, really neat places to see.
And then I came back into hectic Tour schedule. I competed in both those events, had a chance to win them. Came back and was able to start to get back on track now here. And I think that -- I mean, it was certainly abnormal for after the new year. A lot of times those guys take the opportunities in the fall, but it seemed like an appropriate two-week stretch. And I really do have good memories from it.
Q. As far as just how your life has changed or anything, and any athletes that you talked to that really helped you, Steph Curry or anybody --
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, yeah, things have certainly changed within the last couple of years. I did some talking with Tom Brady. He's an Under Armour athlete as well, and I've spent on a couple different occasions some time with him and certainly received some advice. He's obviously in the spotlight being, you know, arguably the greatest -- one of the greatest quarterback of all times if not the best. So it's pretty cool just to have that opportunity to talk to him. And then for him to want to reach out and help is -- kind of just help on how do you adjust to still do what you love to do, love to do it, while still that outside noise is there now. And he's been helpful, along with quite a few other people.
Q. For those of us in Austin who have known of you since high school when you won the state tournament with a final round of 65, how has your golf game changed since then?
JORDAN SPIETH: How has my golf game changed since then? I've gotten quite a bit longer after high school off the tee, certainly improved around the greens and I've improved in strategy on the golf course, mainly when you look at a 65 and how that compares to 65 now. Well, you just had to adjust -- you've got to adjust to the change in the golf course and the conditions of the golf course, faster greens, thicker rough, tougher pins.
So a 65 then is a 70 out here, something like that. It's tough to put a number on it. But I think every part of my game has gotten a bit better, just trying to knock out problem areas kind of month by month and just keep it on the same cycle.
Q. Adam Scott said he played a college tournament here. Did you know Adam went to college?
JORDAN SPIETH: He went to UNLV. He was my favorite player growing up.
Q. Adam was or UNLV?
JORDAN SPIETH: Adam was.
Q. I don't believe that (laughter). Secondly --
JORDAN SPIETH: I've said that -- have I not been quoted on that before?
Q. You had a poster, right?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think I had a poster.
Q. Why was Adam your favorite player?
JORDAN SPIETH: I loved his game. I obviously love his golf swing, who doesn't? I really enjoyed kind of the way he went about it on the course, too, the way he was walking. He was nice to me, when I was a little kid, I had a Byron Nelson ticket that he signed be. He had just kind of a star on his signature, it's pretty cool. And I liked that when I was younger. And obviously the dominance of Tiger I admired, as well.
Q. Does Adam know this?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know, maybe (laughter).
Q. In match play, supposedly if your opponent has a long putt, an awkward shot, you're supposed to expect him to make it. Have you ever been guilty of not doing that? If not, what's the worst thing someone's ever pulled on you in match play?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been pitched in on from 30, 40 yards, I can't remember exactly who it was or when it was. But it's one of those where you're on the green 15 feet and they've got a 40 yard pitch, 30 yard pitch, remember thinking, we've got this hole. And then you miss, all of a sudden there's the flip. And you'll see some flips, especially with these conditions we're expecting the first couple of days out here. It's going to be a very, very interesting -- you're going to have some interesting matches. Hopefully mine isn't one of those.
Q. What's the first thing you went through your mind when you heard about your group?
JORDAN SPIETH: I thought it was a difficult group. There's no easy group, but I thought I got a difficult draw. Justin is a great player. We had fun on Friday afternoon, unfortunately only one gets to advance.
Victor obviously with the success at this tournament, and I think with tougher conditions it's an advantage to him. It's an advantage to his game. He's Seve-like in what he can do around the greens.
And then I've watched Jamie, firsthand watched Jamie in that final match of the Ryder Cup. A tough match play bracket.
Q. Have you played any competitions on this course before? What's your low score? Is there a type of player you think the course will suit?
JORDAN SPIETH: We only did qualifying here, to qualify for positioning or if you make the team for the college tournament.
I couldn't tell you my low score here. It's always been a difficult track. It's a tough track for us. It was a tough track in college for us. I'm not even sure what par is.
17, we played as a short par 5. I think it's, what, 71 now, is that right? When it was a 72, 67, maybe.
What game does it suit? I think it's going to suit position players, at least the first few days, and then that could change on the weekend. We're going to get gusts up to 30 mile an hour winds and the front nine this week gets very, very narrow. And with the way the greens have their shelves, position is very important off the tee to be able to even have a chance to hit it on to the correct shelf. Par is going to be a very good score, especially the front nine when the wind is up, and we're going to see two different nines as well.
Q. How do you think the event fits in this year, two weeks before the Masters, it's a little different than what we're used to?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's a really good spot for it. Here's why -- I think if it were the week before the Masters it makes sense in a way, because if you get knocked out early you can go to Augusta early, which you'd like to maybe go in and prepare. At the same time, if you ideally play the seven matches, eight matches, seven matches, and you're done Sunday evening, you're not going to exactly want to play a major the next week. So I think it's a good mix in the middle.
Houston I thought has always been a really good track before the Masters. It's very similar around the greens to an extent with the overseed and very, very pure. And the way that this golf course is playing this week, I think that it kind of starts us on that path, as well. I think it's a great place for it.
Q. The 16th hole, par 5, could be pivotal for a number of reasons. Take us through the strategies, risk, reward. How do you play it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Two days ago, on Sunday afternoon, we had a northern wind and I hit driver, 7-iron. And then yesterday I hit driver, 3-wood, and I was short of the green by probably 40 yards. It's going to play very different on a couple of different days.
Yeah, I'm sure it will be a very important hole. The pin positions on the front of the green that are above the false front are definitely the trickiest. You've got to try and figure out off the tee -- after you hit your tee shot, you've got to try and figure out if it's into the wind, how far you want to risk pushing that up. It's going to be hard for a wedge. But if you push it up and you hit it down the left side, you can't get to any of those front pins. So it really depends on the pin position on where you want to strategize your second shot into that hole. If it's downwind, ideally you have iron in and you can just hit the middle of the green. I wish it were that easy, but that's the plan.
Q. Thomas Pieters was in here earlier talking about Belgium, and there was a question about you doing all the traveling now. You're certainly a more visible person than you were a couple of years ago. Do you have concerns about traveling overseas? Would you curtail your travel because of how things are going over there?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure because I don't have many plans, at least in the upcoming six months, other than The Open Championship and hopefully the Olympics. I'm not sure after that.
I sent a Tweet out this morning. I woke up, and it was sickening that that kind of stuff happens. And that people think that that's something that's okay. I don't know if that changes my strategy on things. It's a bit early in the season for me to tell, because that's normally what we look at later in the year. But it makes you feel a bit uneasy, doesn't it?
Fortunately I feel safe over here. So it may, in fact -- yeah, it may, in fact, kind of call you off of or at least hesitate a bit more on decisions like that.
Q. You think you're an intelligent player on the golf course, and if you do, what does that mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I have a high golf IQ, sure. I think what that means is I'm able to dissect different situations, different lies, winds and where pins are not only judging the distance but judging where, based on our knowledge of the golf course, judging the appropriate spot where to miss is and how to make par from there. I think my golf IQ -- I damaged a couple of brain cells within the last month, I think I need to get it back, but I think it's still there. I think my focus will -- I think this is I a good week for me to really get my focus back in a match play format where it requires you to really think through these shots based on where your opponent is.
Q. Where did you get that IQ from, and why do some players have it and some don't?
JORDAN SPIETH: An average golf IQ is very high if you're on the PGA Tour. You have to have it to get out here and maintain your status out here and to maintain your status. I think your love of the game makes you want to learn more about it and learn everything that goes into it. I have a passion for it.
Cameron has an extremely high golf IQ. I'm not sure where he got it, but I think it's naturally with him. I've learned a lot from him. In dissecting golf courses every time, we kind of have a playing lesson.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Jordan Spieth, thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports