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April 9, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to welcome our defending champion, Jordan Spieth. Jordan carded a 1‑over par 73 today. He had birdies on No. 2, 8, 12, 14 and 15. Jordan has led for the 7th consecutive round, the most in history of the Masters Tournament.
Jordan, tough conditions out there today. Can you explain to us how you're feeling heading into Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I played better than I scored today. It was a really tough finish to go from really holding a four‑shot lead and being in a very similar position to last year to where all of the sudden now it's anyone's game, so it's tough to swallow that.
I'm in the lead after 54 holes. If you told me that at the beginning of the week, I'd be obviously very pleased. So it's mixed feelings right now.
Q. 30 putts, not really very much like you on this track. What do you make of it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I thought that's fantastic today. If you told me 30 putts at the beginning of the day, I would thank you (snapping fingers).
Q. Bernhard had 27?
JORDAN SPIETH: That's awesome for him (laughter). Well done, Bernhard.
In the high winds, you're going to 3‑putt out here. There's almost no way to avoid it. I thought I putted the ball unbelievably well today. I made a lot of putts from four to eight feet on my second putts, after putting up ridges throughout the round, and I thought that was key to holding it together.
Q. Last year when you were in the middle of that run, I talked to your Walker Cup captain, Jim Holtgrieve, and I asked what he saw for you back in 2011. He mentioned three things, he said he remembers a halve you made on Sunday morning; he said you and Patrick Rodgers were the best he ever saw at mapping a course to prepare to play it; and he said specifically about you he saw a player who played the game inside his own body, meaning the greatest pressure you feel on the golf course is not the fourth round of the Masters or the last few holes, it's a pressure you feel over every shot to execute. Is that a fair description?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I think so, yeah. Obviously pressure is heightened in outside situations, but for the most part I would say the third thing you said is accurate, it's the pressure to execute.
We were executing great today. I struck my irons, which has been kind of my Achilles heel the first two days, from shooting even better scores. I struck my irons fantastic and then the one on 16, I let go wayward, and that same shot came with my driver on the last two.
I'm not sure what it was, those are very nice comments by Captain Holtgrieve. I mean, is it a fair assessment? Those are really nice things to say, is about all I can say to that. Yeah, I think that the pressure to execute, and obviously pressure is something that certainly is situational, as well.
Q. So pressure for you is more internal than external?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a combination, sure. I say that certain shots that I know are difficult shots, I feel adrenaline when I'm starting to get over them, whether it's Thursday ‑‑ or Tuesday of a practice round or it's Sunday of a major.
But tomorrow, every single shot is heightened, given the external condition.
Q. You said outside you wanted to throw the finish away. But what kind of a challenge is that now to lift your spirits and see the bigger picture?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's very difficult. It's going to be very difficult. As I look at the leaderboard now, if I can just make three pars to finish‑‑ I played the last three holes, the last two days, 5‑over par. There was no challenge in those holes really.
You know, that's what's tough for me is those three holes, you should be able to hit the three greens in regulation, and if you play them 1‑over, you play them 1‑over, but they are not the hard holes out here. That's what's tough.
If I'm at 5‑ , 6‑under, even just saying that right now, I can't think that way. That certainly brings anyone who is over par almost out of the tournament. And now with very little wind tomorrow, someone gets on a run and shoots 6‑, 7‑under, you know, I know I have to shoot a significant under par round tomorrow in order to win this tournament, when I could have played a different style of golf like I did on Sunday last year.
Q. Not sure how old your dad is, but can you give us some perspective, competing against Bernhard Langer, two shots back right now, in a position where it may be you and him tomorrow.
JORDAN SPIETH: I saw that he was a couple under through his first six or seven holes when we were just teeing off on 1. Just because I was trying to get a feel for the scores on what we should predict through the start of the round, and I didn't do any scoreboard watching after.
I think it's incredible. I would say I'm surprised except for doesn't he win most every tournament on the Champions Tour (laughter)? We watch him all the time on TV and he's a guy that certainly knows how to close, and close here. He's a force to be reckoned with, and you can't think of it being his age or that this is‑‑ from my perspective, you can't think of this as an amazing story or this is his age. He's just another competitor who's fully capable of shooting a really solid round and winning this tournament again, which would be something afterwards. But while it's happening, I've got to expect that he's going to come back tomorrow and play a strong round. I think it's really cool what he's doing, but again, I find it hard to say that it's surprising.
Q. Take you back to a happier time. At the time, how big was the birdie on 12?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it was really nice. 11's a hard hole, but I drove it into just an A1 position and I just couldn't figure out the wind, and then I just didn't commit at the bottom of the ball. That right shot has just been killing me with my irons this week. Just not‑‑ it's just all clubface. The swing's fine. I'm just not getting the clubface square because of fear of left, even though it's not going to go left.
I hit a great, committed iron shot on No. 10 after switching clubs, and I just couldn't figure out the wind.
It was a tough hole on 11.
It was a great bounceback on 12. 12, the shot should have been right‑to‑left, downwind, and we played it straight into the wind, is the way that we played the shot, which just shows you the way that swirls there. If I play for it to be downwind right‑to‑left, I wouldn't have cleared the water. I hit a 9‑iron and I hit a pretty hard 9‑iron, and in the air I'm kind of like backing up, like I have no idea where this ball is going to land.
That's a unique feeling. We don't get that very often. It was a great putt.
Q. You said you were kicking yourself a little bit for not hitting a 3‑wood on 17. Is that psychologically a hard thing to do to grab that club, because it feels like you're not playing aggressive anymore?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. Because last year I was four shots in the lead on Saturday stepping on 17 tee with the same‑‑ I was going to hit the ball in the same position given we were downwind, but we were further back this year, and I hit driver and I made double‑bogey. I hit it left and it got me in trouble.
Actually, I was in the lead by six at the time. And it's a similar position this time and it should have been a very easy decision, up four with 20 holes to go. Downwind, I could hit 8‑iron into the green, if I hit 3‑wood, and it brings out most of the trouble.
So no, it should not have been a tough decision. I had driver, I stepped off of it. I was feeling maybe this should be 3‑wood and when that feeling comes up, you should never then step back up with a driver.
Q. Could you take us through your strategy on 13 and 15, your thought processes on playing those holes?
JORDAN SPIETH: I had a tough number into 13, given we were straight into the wind. I had 213 to the front, like 245 or something to the hole; for hitting 3‑wood off the tee, I hit a pretty good tee shot.
But with this northwest wind, if it was down, if there wasn't much wind, like there wasn't on 11 or 12, I would have hit my 3‑iron driving iron and given it a go. And Michael kind of talked me out of that. The only reason I really wanted to go for it versus laying up is if you pull off the shot, it's a solid stroke difference from laying up to that pin. That hole location is just so tough. And it was a good decision.
And 15, I had a bad number. We caught a pretty heavy wind on the tee shot and I wasn't going to be able to hit 3‑iron there and I didn't want to hit 3‑wood into that green. It was a no‑brainer. That was one of the better birdies I've ever made here was my birdie on 15 today.
Q. What do you do tonight to clear your head and move on?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably go break something really quick (laughter), have dinner and watch a movie.
I'll be fine. It's tough. I'm not exactly sure what I'll do yet. I'll just go grab some dinner and lay low, do the same thing I've done the last 12 rounds here at night, which is get to bed at a decent time, try and get a good amount of rest and tee off late in the afternoon.
Q. When you're 58, do you think you could be lying third on a Saturday evening of the Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH: When I'm 58?
Q. I.e., same as Bernhard.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, I think can. That would be awesome. It's tough to, yeah, it's certainly tough to put that‑‑ it's very hard for me to answer that question. But it really is incredible what he's doing.
And again, I think these tougher conditions play into his favor; knowledge of the golf course and very, very good control of his own golf swing and golf ball.
As Karen said, he had 26 or 27 putts today, and so that combination is going to move him up the leaderboard significantly. There was a few fantastic rounds today, and I thought it was playing very difficult.
Q. Would you take a lot of your scramble ability as a positive going into tomorrow? You weren't on the fairway as much as you like, I'm sure.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I thought we did a great job‑‑ minus the last two holes, I thought we did a great job. Even 11, I think it was the right decision what I did. I hit it down there below and you just take a five. I just hit the first putt where it got above the hole. But it was the right decision.
So yeah, I played the right shots today. Really pleased with my wedge play this week. 18 was just very, very weak of me. I had a good number to hit. Just a stock wedge shot up on the back tier and I tried to play this punch up the green which is just an unbelievably defensive play. Especially with the way I feel over my wedges right now.
Yeah, scrambling ability was fantastic. I made quite a few good putts that I had to start on the edge of the hole or outside from four to ten feet. I can certainly take that into tomorrow.
I have a feeling with the predicted forecast, these greens are going to bake out a little bit and it's going to be still playing very difficult.
Q. What's the evolution process of learning how to play well enough when it's not your day; when you're not happy, when you're not feeling 100 percent? Is that part of something that you learn the more rounds you play on Tour?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it goes back to junior golf. Yeah, it's just learning how to kind of develop a go‑to shot, even if everything else is off, it feels off. Kind of having something that you can still rely on. Yeah, I mean, it's harder and harder as you move up into major championships and towards the later groups. But I feel like I had great control.
Today wasn't a day like that. I played a really, really solid round, with just two bad shots at the end of the round. If I look at it that way, we're in good position. It just stinks that my score doesn't reflect the way I played. But hopefully I'm sitting here at this same time tomorrow, or I guess maybe hopefully later, and my score maybe did reflect a little better than I played, who knows.
Q. Knowing yourself, how easy do you think it will be for you to just put those last two holes behind you, and what was it like playing with Rory today?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it will be tough personally. I mean honestly, I think it will be tough to put it behind. I think I will, but that wasn't a fun last couple holes to play from the position I was in. I'm not going to dodge the question by any means. It's not going to be fun tonight for a little while, and hopefully I just sleep it off and it's fine tomorrow. I imagine that will be the case.
It was tough‑‑ Rory, I love playing with Rory. There wasn't much conversation. He just couldn't get anything going today, couldn't get any of the putts to go. So it was kind of just a blah round at that. But again, it's always nice walking 18 holes with him.
Q. How important is your place in golf history to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure yet. I think that even‑‑ how important is it going to be to me, yeah, certainly very important. I would like to impact the game positively and help grow it. But I don't know what impact‑‑ I'm not exactly sure yet.
I'm not Bryson; I won't stand up here and give you a play‑by‑play, turn‑by‑turn (laughter). I haven't really thought that far. I'm just trying to win this tournament tomorrow.
Q. Your thought process, confidence, etc., going into tomorrow in this position, versus last year in this position, lead aside, and then the year before, obviously a similar position, kind of going into tomorrow, where is it at versus previous years? Not a lot of guys behind you have won major championships.
JORDAN SPIETH: I've certainly felt better last year on Saturday night than I do right now. I had a four‑shot lead and everything was going right. Just came off a great up‑and‑down on 18. Yeah, I felt much better‑‑ I felt much better about my position last year than I do right this second, just because of what happened in the last 40 minutes.
But at the same time, I feel that if I can get to the range, I straighten the ball out tomorrow, I get back to the same routine I was just in, I certainly think that down the stretch, I'm better prepared now than I was at this point last year.
It's hard for me to say that because we just answered every statement made on the golf course last year on Sunday. So I can't rely on the putter the way I did today. I've got to strike the ball better. That's what leaves me a little uneasy compared to last year. I was at a four‑shot lead and we were, what, 16‑under. I've got to, and I relied on my putter on Sunday last year and it came through. Can't do that every single round, so I've got to put myself in better positions tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan, and good luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports