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April 5, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to welcome back to Augusta National, our defending champion, Jordan Spieth. In only his second Masters Tournament, Jordan claimed his first green jacket in historic fashion last year. He game the first player ever to reach 19‑under in just the fifth wire‑to‑wire champion in Masters history. With his victory, Jordan became the second‑youngest champion and tied Tiger Woods' scoring record at 18‑under.
Jordan continued to have a banner year in 2015, winning his second major at the U.S. Open and finished with five victories on his way to PGA TOUR Player of the Year honors.
Before we open it up to questions, Jordan, what an incredible year. Could you just comment on how it feels to return to this room and since becoming Masters Champion, just comment on what the last year has really been like.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, like we were just saying back there, the last time I was in that little green room there, I had a big smile on my face. Certainly here, as well. This was after the ceremony, and you guys had all waited very patiently through all that. It was nice to come in here and kind of relive the memories of that day after I had a couple hours to think about it and let it sink in, try to sink in.
But yeah, it's great being back here. I've had a fantastic couple days thus far preparing and game feels great. Going to try and just use last year as momentum. We know we're capable of playing this place. We have proven it to ourselves the last two years. So the focus is on this week, and we feel as confident as probably ever leading into at least on Tuesday.
So game actually feels better right now than I think it did last year on Tuesday, so that's good if we can keep it consistent.
Q. What's your stress level like this year compared to this time a year ago?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably similar. A year ago, I put pretty high expectations on this week, given I had come off two runner‑up finishes. I knew I was in form and I had that close call in 2014. So it was all kind of set up to at least contend. But at the same time, you can say that and you can be in form, but to still go out there and do it is another thing.
So the stress was there, but also the confidence was there. I think that it's the same this year. We've already done it, so it's not like it's something‑‑ it's not like I'm chasing my first major. We have two major championships now. So we feel like there's an advantage, if we can get into contention against those who are searching for their first; we know how difficult that was to sleep on, and to sleep on leads and in contention in major championships when you haven't capitalized.
So I would say it's pretty similar to last year. Sure, I'm putting pressure on myself to contend this year, just like last year and I feel like I'm in form, as well. But it's also going to be a lot of fun walking these fairways, reliving those memories with the crowds and the roars, the echos.
Q. Both Jason Day and Rory have talked about the tendency to over‑try, overthink. When there's so much on the line winning here and the nuances of balancing that, how do you manage to avoid that tendency to overthink?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think 2014 was nice, we came in so under the radar. I had missed the cut in Houston and this was my first Masters. I was just trying to have a great experience. I knew that I could beat the guys we were playing against, because I had been successful on Tour for a year and a half up to that point. But I hadn't really gotten anywhere near close in the majors.
For me, it was just let's go ahead and play what I consider my favorite course in the world and have fun playing in the Masters. And then with everything that happened in 2014, I knew we could do it again and improve on it. I think I was lucky that the first try, I wasn't trying as hard, and I think from there, now I can just‑‑ kind of just go back to the past couple years and draw off of that.
Now I hope I get off to a good start. If I don't, then I'm going to have to reach down deep and really stay patient and let birdies come to me. I think recently I've been trying very, very hard to almost too passionate to make birdies wherever I'm at to get on these runs like I did early Sunday in Houston.
And on this type of golf course, that's easy to do, as well. You play these par 5s and you think, the winners from the previous whatever years have all played these par 5s so well. I just parred my first three par 5s; I'm losing strokes.
Well, that's something that's easy to think about here, but you let 'em come to you, you let the birdies come to you. I just think that this place brings that kind of mentality into me and Michael, and I think‑‑ I don't know why, but it just does. I'm very pleased that it does.
Q. You're going to be in effect the unofficial host of the Champions Dinner tonight, but you're also going to be the youngest person in that room.
JORDAN SPIETH: I think by a decent amount (laughter) of years.
Q. What is that like? Do you feel any sense of, I'm going to explain the food and just let everyone else talk, or how do you see your role?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, probably. I would imagine so. I've had dinner with Phil many times and he can hold court, so I think that that will certainly happen (laughter). I know Tiger plans to be there. We've got guys, older champions, as well. I ran into Fuzzy in the champions locker room. He was a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to tonight and it's going to be a great night.
I imagine the Chairman will maybe ask me to say a few words. I'll certainly think of something that makes sense, given the timing. But I'll probably do less talking and more listening tonight.
Q. Will that be‑‑ does that cause you any anxiety, the thought of having to address such a‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH: It will be certainly unique. There will be nothing that I've ever done before or will ever do that will match the first time talking to that audience.
So yeah, it's certainly, it's a bit odd to think about. Cool.
Q. And the last question, it's one part of your success that Michael won't be able to enjoy. Does that bum you out?
JORDAN SPIETH: He actually thought ‑‑ at first I think he thought that he was going to be able to be there (laughter). So he was, I think, a bit surprised when, I think it was Jay who told him, no, Michael, nobody goes.
But yeah, he was on the range. He was like, this is going to be the coolest dinner ever. I'm like ‑‑ not today. He thought a long time ago.
Today, he was saying, this is going to be such a cool experience, maybe the coolest dinner you'll ever have.
I was like, yeah, probably, Michael, it will be awesome. So I'm sure he'll be asking me tomorrow about it. Yeah, it's going to be a very, very fun experience.
I played with Charl today. I've talked to him a little. I talked to Angel briefly. Talked to Phil. Yeah, it's going to be a good time.
Q. Couple of points related to the whole Masters success story. What are your favorite memories of the green jacket over the last 12 months? And they say the atmosphere changes here when you hit the 10th tee on a Sunday. Can you speak to that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, the atmosphere, it's weird, you walk off the green on 9, I remember 2014 and 2015 both thinking, okay, this is the back nine now. We've got, you know, two extremely tough holes and then we've got a few easy holes and we've got a couple tough holes. You know every hole on the back nine, you know where you can have your advantages, where you can gain strokes, where you can lose strokes. For whatever reason coming off of 9 green, maybe it's just the walking up there and you back at the clubhouse, you kind of look, you've got to change your whole shot profile into hitting a big hook off the 10th tee.
So whatever it is, you feel like you're almost starting another round there. You're almost starting another tournament. You can feel the difference in momentum. I can feel the difference in momentum in 2014 versus 2015. The subtle breaks that I didn't get in 2014 that I got in 2015 on 9, where my ball climbed up in 2014 and came all the way back to make bogey, last year it climbs up, I almost make birdie, and I gain a shot on Justin instead of losing two shots to Bubba, I think, in 2014.
They were unique experiences for me coming off of the ninth hole, for sure. I can't speak to any normal scenario because they have just been crazy scenarios the last two years. But momentum certainly changes.
I missed the first part of your question.
Q. Your favorite memories of the green jacket?
JORDAN SPIETH: Certainly New York right after was a lot of fun, doing kind of the media tour up there.
Some of my favorite memories were certainly back home, having a bunch of my friends over, and just kind of having the jacket on while you're grilling out or while you're doing whatever, that kind of stuff (laughter). Just hanging out in it for the first couple times where everything's dialed back and you're with just kind of your friends who are so excited, but at the same time they are not going to sit there and ask you all these questions about what it's like. They are just going to give me crap, and I'll give them‑‑ they are my best friends.
I remember those evenings and that kind of just getting to‑‑ I didn't wear it out much in Dallas. It stayed in my closet and took it on the road here and there. But I would bring it out here and there. It was certainly a lot of fun and I don't want to have to give it back.
Q. Along those lines, I don't know how the turn‑in ceremony is here, if you have to leave the jacket here after this week; did that have an impact on you, because you've spoken all year long about how much you've enjoyed it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, when I packed it to go down to Austin, because I drove to Austin, Houston and flew here; I was like, wow, this is actually‑‑ there's a possibility that I don't have this back at my house anymore when I was leaving home.
It kind of fired me up a little bit. So yeah, just the jacket itself provides a little motivation, which is cool but at the same time, it's not easy. It's not easy to get. Don't take it‑‑ I didn't take it for granted whatsoever. I think that I could have taken advantage of having it in my possession more than I did. But you learn and next time I'll do a little bit better (laughter).
Q. We had so many years of everybody worrying about one guy here. Do you feel like we're in a situation now where it's like six or eight or ten guys out there that you're going to be keeping an eye on this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm going to keep an eye on whoever's at the top. I'm not‑‑ we all know who is capable of having firepower in a major, and certainly the firepower that's been produced over the last few months. There's a lot of guys who have a lot of success here that have really brought some strong finishes and motivation and some momentum into this week. So I know that the people that are down maybe a few, three, four, five shots after the first couple rounds are capable of making up a lot of ground here.
But no, I wouldn't say it's four or five guys. I was never a part of this tournament when you were worried about one guy. So it's hard for me to speak of at least being here. Now, everyone felt it as a fan, right, when Tiger was a, whatever, 3‑to‑2 favorite or whatever, something ridiculous. So you certainly knew it, but I was never here.
So now, for me, isn't Jason the favorite in my mind? (Laughter) So nice. He can be the favorite. I'll go ahead and we'll just do our thing.
Q. We made quite a bit of Rory changing his putting stroke. Just wonder, for yourself, if you've always putted that way or what the circumstances were when you switched?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was 13 or 14. I didn't grow up that way. I changed because when I used a conventional grip, I found it very tough to align my shoulders and arms down the correct line. They were often open, and my stroke, if I had a tendency, it would be to kind of come over the top and pull it. And when I went cross‑handed, it automatically lined up everything, and my miss, if I had one, was just a little bit right, which stands today through kind of my whole game. Normally, if I miss something, I'm just not rotating the face just enough, and I like that a lot better. And I felt very comfortable on shorter length putts, maybe 15 feet and in, putting cross‑handed.
Q. How long before it became very natural to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not long. Certainly had to work on speed control with it. But, for me, I do a lot of things left‑handed, so I have a lot of feel in my left hand. It actually I think was pretty natural to me. I never really looked back. I may have switched when I was 14 for a month or two here and there, but it's been consistent.
Q. You had that incredible 2015 major championship season. Do you feel a sense of pressure to succeed more internally or externally?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably internally, yeah. I've done a better job and kind of gotten over external pressure and more, okay, it's more the internal stuff that is trickier for me.
The only way it affects my golf is if I'm on the course and in a tournament round, and I feel like I'm giving strokes away and, therefore, I make an aggressive play that's unnecessary. And that's the kind of stuff that fortunately this golf course, I feel like I have such a knowledge of this golf course that I'm always playing to a certain spot, maybe away from pins, that even if I want to make that kind of move, I won't. Kind of seems like that's been the case the last couple years, so hopefully this week we kick it off similar to last year.
But that's where it affects my game in a negative sense and I lose shots is an internal, okay, I need to start making up ground now instead of, you know what, I've got all the tools here. My tools that I have right now, I know can beat everybody, if I just let them kind of come out. And obviously, you need the right breaks and you need the putts to fall. But giving yourself enough chances and not kind of short‑siding yourself or making that dumb bogey or double after you've made a couple birdies trying to do too much. That's what's really affected me recently that I think this week I will really focus on dialing back on.
Q. Is it going to be a little bit surreal to see Tiger at the Champions Dinner but then not competing?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so. We haven't seen him competing in a little while, and we certainly all hope that he's back soon. But because of that, I don't think it will be odd. I think the whole experience will be so unique in itself that it won't be focused on anything like that. I think I'll be kind of eyes wide open, just excited to be there.
Q. With Tiger missing 2014, did you have much interaction with him last year before this tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: We played nine holes on Wednesday with Mr.Crenshaw, the back nine, and that was really cool. Certainly picked his brain a little then. As you could imagine, with any of us when we're out there playing with someone else, you don't want to just get questioned about every single hole and this and that. So it was of light, but kind of just here and there.
Like I did with Charl today and Brandt and Harry and yesterday with Justin and Brooks, we're just, hey, do you think this putt is quicker going this way or, hey, look at this, it seems to break a lot, that kind of stuff. But that's about it.
Q. Given your start last year in the two majors, do you think the Grand Slam is achievable?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think‑‑ that's a tough one and me doing that for the camera is going to haunt me some day when I have a good round (laughter).
But I think that‑‑ you've got to always smile even if you're (laughter). You know what, I would have said prior to last year, no. And it's very, almost conceited for me to say because of last year, maybe. But we were so close and it was one break here or there. Now we got the breaks this week, and we certainly got the breaks at the U.S. Open. It was a golf course where you needed to get breaks at Chambers Bay. Here you have kind of got to create your own. We were really, really close. I had control of my own destiny at The Open Championship. And then the PGA, I'll use an excuse right now and say, there was a three‑stroke difference in the draw. So say we are on different ends in the draw, I'm a lot closer there, and I started I think three shots behind, two to four shots the last day and I think I lost by three.
You need those kind of breaks. It seems silly, right. It seems like you can overcome that in a major, but it makes a difference. You have to have everything go your way to win a golf tournament, let alone to win a major, to have that happen the four times in a year in those four weeks.
There might be someone some day that comes along that's as dominant as Tiger has been in 2000, 2001 and, yeah, if they're just that good, you can get the breaks, and even if you don't, you can still maybe win.
Man, I got as good of breaks as I could last year and didn't pull it off. But we were very close. I still didn't answer your question. So I don't know (laughter). I think it can happen, but especially with the way things have changed in media and just the lack of ability to stay private, if someone wins the first three majors, it's going to be very difficult to shut out the noise by the fourth and to still play your own game.
Q. Did you ever sneak into the champions locker room when you weren't the champion, and what was it like the first time you went in and saw your name?
JORDAN SPIETH: I wouldn't say I snuck in. I didn't break any rules. I was here with a member and when you're here, you can walk around and you can see the wine cellar and the champions locker room and whatever.
It was before it had been renovated to what it is now. I think this is new this year. I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to sayanything, so I'm sorry (laughter).
Yes, I had and I was interested in who was sharing lockers with who and that kind of stuff. But I think I had been in there one time.
Q. So what was it like the first time you walked in and saw your name on the locker?
JORDAN SPIETH: It was very, very cool. It was an experience that I tried to soak in as I was just walking up the steps, trying that experience in itself, make it almost last a lifetime, right. Because how often do you get to go in and see your name in the champions locker room at Augusta National for the first time? After experiencing the Sunday of winning and wanting that to last for days, every experience I had back at this place, I'm going to go ahead and try to really soak it in. So I did and I had no idea, no one had told me that I was sharing with Mr.Palmer. So that was obviously a pleasant surprise.
Q. How are you able to gain so much course knowledge in just two years?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've actually played quite a few rounds. I've played the golf course 25, 30 times now. Also, I don't know, I've just kind of had an eye for it. I've also studied it from when I was eight years old, certainly the back nine. And the coverage of the front nine is far superior now than it was back then. It was so much focused on the back nine. Now everyone knows every hole.
So I already knew going in tendencies of different holes and I just wanted to hit these putts that I've seen guys hit or shots into holes where the ball feeds. I love courses where you have to use your imagination and a lot of feel, so I just kind of had a unique eye for it I guess, a passion for it, if you want to say.
But yeah, a place that you come back to play every single year in a major, this is the only one. You already have a ton of focus on the golf course and really dissecting, giving it your all that week in a major. When you get to do that every single place in a major, it sticks with you.
Q. How hands on have you been able to be with your foundation and are you aware that the first of the many specially‑adapted trikes that the organization provided the AMBUCS went to a young boy with downs syndrome here in the Augusta area?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been very involved. I wasn't sure, I didn't know that the ‑‑ was it the first trike? We have, through the foundation, been able to give dozens of trikes out. I don't know specifically who all they go to. We trust that organization to do it.
I know my sister was going to get one, too. We were going to make sure that she got one, as well as a lot of families in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and then a few abroad.
I've been very hands on, where I think next weekend I have a board meeting and we certainly try and get together as often as possible. I talk weekly. I talk almost every day with Laura Moses, who works for Jay and our agency who's very involved with the foundation with my family. Talk with her almost every day about whatever, but we talk weekly about the foundation and try to be extremely hands on. It's difficult in times like this obviously, but we find plenty of time, yeah. Very passionate about it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan, and good luck this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports