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May 17, 2016
JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the Interview Room here at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Seven-time winner on the PGA TOUR, 2015 FedExCup Champion.
Jordan, it all started right here really if you look at it back in 2010 as a 16 year old. Just talk a little bit about your recollection of that tournament and what this tournament means to you.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I still played a few holes today and still talked to Michael, recalling memories from the 2010 and 2011 Nelson when I was in high school, just cool moments or shots or clubs we hit into holes or whatever. It's really fun to look back on those times.
It was so special to me that actually all thank you notes that I write, that my parents I used to be forced to write, now I see why they forced me to write them, have a picture of me on 17 in 2010 on the follow through and just a sea of people behind the green which is one of the coolest shots I've ever hit, and one of the best memories I've had was I hit it right of the pin to the right pin which wasn't smart but why be smart when you're 16?
So yeah, some really fun memories. Always fantastic to be back at this event and I'm going to walk around with a smile on my face this week and hopefully work my way into contention. I think last year was my best finish ever at this event.
It's been kind of a tough event for me. The golf course hasn't suited my game as well as it did in those early couple years but got some momentum off of the last year and belief that we can work our way into contention.
Hopefully we get a few good days of weather, too. Looks a little iffy. Should be all right by the weekend.
JOHN BUSH: On Saturday, AT&T is giving out this little guy to the first 8,000 fans. Make a second appearance this season.
JORDAN SPIETH: The AT&T at Pebble Beach. Really cool what they're doing involving our team and me specifically and that will be fun to see the bobble-heads going around.
The tough part when people ask me to sign them, I have no idea where to sign them. There we go. There goes the club throw already (laughter). Flip him over and sign them on the bottom. But it's pretty cool.
JOHN BUSH: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. What was the motivation for your tweet I guess it was Sunday with the old picture of you blocking out the haters?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. Just like a saying when you're wearing shades. I heard -- it's a saying like if you're wearing sunglasses or dark sunglasses, like I'm blocking out haters. You guys are looking way too much into that.
Q. You seem a little under the weather. Are you okay?
JORDAN SPIETH: Had some allergies that led to some throat problems. Went to the doctor yesterday but I'll kick it by the time. It's nothing major. Just a little virus. I'll kick it by the time we tee it up. But, yeah, just, as you can tell, it's a little under the weather.
Q. Jordan, you're going to be the primary host for the clinic for the first time this year. You talked about last year this being obviously an important tournament because this is in your home town.
How important do you see the responsibilities of being a phase of this golf tournament as it goes forward?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a tough kind of -- it's a tough line to walk between trying to feel like you need to, you know, be such a big part but still get the right work done to where you feel you can go out and play your best golf because it's very difficult to do both. And you don't see that very often, anybody do both.
So, this clinic is a great way to, in an evening on Tuesday get lot of kids from the area. UnderArmour has stepped up and taken over sponsorship with it, too, which is cool from my point of view, to feel like I'm really, you know, helping out the community, helping grow, maybe help grow the game of golf in the local area.
Not just by this clinic but, you know, through doing these kinds of things in Dallas but maybe there's a couple kids who like football or basketball or baseball better that through this clinic maybe want to pick up a golf club, something like that.
So when you hear those kinds of stories it makes you want to do it. Harrison Frazer hosted it with me in the past and I'm sure he'll come back and do some of it in the future.
It's an easy -- it's easy and very beneficial for me to be a part of because I still feel like we can do something like this but then I still have all tomorrow to get the work done and earlier today and yesterday.
So, I feel a responsibility for sure but, at the same time, it would be pretty special selfishly to get into contention and have a chance to win this tournament. So, on the other side of things, I'm going that route, too.
Q. Jordan, you've now been coming to this golf tournament for a 3rd of your life, playing in it about a 3rd of your life. Does it feel like that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sometimes and sometimes -- yeah, for the most part it does, to be honest this week. This week, you always know it's the Byron Nelson week, not just another week.
So, it's bizarre. I think it's my 6th start and with the way the red pants worked it would have been my 7th if I didn't have to play in regionals in college. The one year I played in college.
So, it's very unique. I'm now seeing courses for the 3rd time, sometimes the 4th. Normally the third event. But to be coming to my 6th event, it's bizarre. It really is kind of an odd feeling.
Q. What would a 22 year old Jordan go back and give advice to 16 or 17 year old Jordan?
JORDAN SPIETH: Most of it would be off the course (laughter). No. I love the way I played this tournament when I was in high school both years. I played it the way that I love to play the game which is to play aggressive, not hold anything back. Once I made the cut that's easy to say given there's nothing to lose as an amateur, as a high schooler, no one expects anything out of you anyway.
I didn't really know what to expect myself. I may as well try and fire at flag sticks and, you know, worked out for the most part. Towards the end of those Sundays I fell back a little bit but, boy, it was a really fun ride and it wouldn't be much I could tell myself on the course at least regarding this event.
But, yeah, there's -- I'm very pleased with the way it all worked out, very fortunate that I was given those opportunities because they gave me the confidence I needed to believe I belong out here and I can make it out here with consistent work.
Q. Jordan, what are your thoughts about having Alex in the field this week and what is the dynamic at the house?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's really cool. Mooney is a good dude. He's capable of shooting some really low scores. We played 8 holes today, played 1 through 5, 16, 17, 18. I think he's going to end up coming out here and staying out here I think just to maybe get away -- just feel like he's closer.
I honestly don't know why. Maybe it smells at the house, I don't know (laughter). Colt Knost is staying with me this week and my caddy and his wife and so, yeah, it's a really fun week when we get home, too, because yeah, it's a tournament week but everyone that we get to have these experiences on the road with now we get the experiences at home.
It's awesome. Really wish Moon the best and I'll be pulling really hard for him.
Q. Do you feel like when you get home are you entertaining, too, like you are here?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I'm not. Everyone just go do your own thing. I'm not hosting anything this week. I'm not -- especially being a little under the weather, I'm going to bed early and sleeping.
But, no, I'm sure we'll have few buddies out on Tour throughout the week, weekend just to hang out but I don't feel like I have any kind of duties, you know.
Q. Jordan, you said at the end of last year you realized maybe you were beating yourself up a little too much on the golf course, not smiling, having a good time.
Is this a good week to maybe recapture that and get back to that?
JORDAN SPIETH: There's a potential for either side and I need to really focus on that on staying on the positive because I can hit either extreme this week, trying so hard to play so well in front of so many friends and family and if you're not quite doing it, which I hadn't, I haven't in the past four years, it can be really tough to kind of hold it together.
But, at the same time, if I can engage with my friends and family maybe and kind of smile more, you know, it's only going to help me on the course if I'm approaching it like it's just another round with friends and I've got a great pairing this week I think to help that couple guys love playing with, Jimmy and Jason.
So, it's going to be something that I'm focused on.
Q. Jordan, how does a tournament like this help prepare you for the upcoming Majors you have for the rest of the summer and then potentially the Olympics?
JORDAN SPIETH: I wouldn't say this specifically over any other PGA TOUR event would help anymore but anytime you're playing, anytime you can again work -- my big thing is work yourself into contention because you want to see how you're performing with the pressure on, with the nerves, I want to see what tendencies and the hopefully there aren't any but you want to see where everything is holding up and what needs to be adjusted.
So, that's what I -- obviously every single week and this one, I'm telling you, if we won this event, I mean that would be very special moment that I would cherish forever.
This is the event my dad and I would hop the fence to come in and watch. We also paid for tickets some years (laughter). Some years we had to maybe park too far away. I think one year he got his car towed when we were parking little too close. I think I remember that.
But, you know, this is my hometown event, the event I learned to love golf at and to try and win this week would be very, very special moment for me.
Q. I know you've spent some time out with Cameron at Trinity Forest. What's your initial take of Trinity Forest and also it's still early but what will players notice when they play Trinity Forest in this tournament that they're not going to get here or what do you think will stand out from they don't get here?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a fantastic design by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. It's very -- got a lot of similarities to Pinehurst No. 2, the wild grass, kind of sunflowers and weeds and all this stuff that kind of make for a cool rough.
It's got a very I think a new strand that maybe only Bluejack National has in their fairways, this new strand of zoysia, very tight and doesn't necessarily tee it up like other zoysia and around the greens it makes it very challenging, very firm and fast bermuda greens with run-off areas.
It's a different style. There's no trees on the golf course. Plays like an American links golf. If it's windy right now it's already a tremendous challenge. If it's not windy it's pretty simple off the tee so there might be some adjustments that will be made by the time the tournament is there but it's a very cool place. The facilities are fantastic.
I've been working with Cameron there since the new year. He moved out there so I've been out there quite a bit and actually played some of the holes. I don't think they're all playable. I probably played 12 of them now.
But you really have to be attacking it from the right angles into these greens. Just like Pinehurst, very tough to keep it on the putting surface.
Q. Will players ask you about the course or have players already asked you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, all the time. Actually it's a common question not just being here this week but any week that when the Byron Nelson gets brought up everyone is asking about what's the new course like? That's what I tell them. So, will it attract bigger and better fields? I don't know. It's too hard to tell right now.
But it's a very different course to this. I think the stadium that this brings in in the last few holes is so cool and I haven't played last few holes on Trinity, I don't know how or if it's going to be similar.
This event is so cool, it's such a cool finish and Trinity is a great spot, too. I'm not -- it's so early to tell. Clubhouse won't even be finished for over a year. Yeah. We schedule our lessons around lunchtime. No food out there.
JOHN BUSH: Jordan, take one from one of your junior reporters.
Q. What kind of techniques do you use while taking your shots?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, very similar routine leading into every single shot. You want to kind of have the same timing. I've been working a little on making decisions quicker the last -- really last week -- we talked in this short off-season I had in the middle of the season about kind of speeding it up and making decisions quicker and depending on what shot is played, I'm normally firing anywhere from 10 to 20 feet away from the target and trying to leave myself with a good mid-range opportunity on the harder holes.
JOHN BUSH: One more, right here.
Q. Hi, Jordan. My question is, what did you do to prepare for this tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I missed the cut last week, which was a good start (laughter). I've come out here a couple times since last year and played the golf course and then I worked with my coach yesterday and today out here and then I played a few holes to get a feel for how the course is playing and I'll continue through tomorrow to work a lot on my speed control on the putting green as well as trying to get really good ball control with my woods. Driving the ball is key out here and so is having good touch on the greens.
JOHN BUSH: Couple over here.
Q. Jordan, obviously you're preparing for this week but I'm sure you're up with current events. Your thoughts on Odor's right hook.
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't want to be in front of the next right hook that is thrown. I saw the whole play and obviously I'm a Rangers fan. I'm not really sure. I don't think I can say anything without getting in trouble on one side or the other right here (laughter).
It was a dirty slide after he got hit which was dirty and, you know, Odor didn't hit him but hey, I mean everyone is talking about it. It was exciting.
Could we see that happening on the PGA TOUR? Probably not. Would it be exciting? Yeah. Would it makes the news? Probably (laughter). Are there people that I want to punch on Tour? No, actually there's not (laughter).
No. I thought -- I just saw he got an 8 game suspension. Rangers are on a little run right now. Nice right hook but there was some dirty plays from both sides there.
Q. Jordan, you mentioned earlier that you liked to play this course when were you 16, 17. You're obviously a better playing now than you were then. Why not play that way here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would like to. If you have the key for me to do so, please join me on the range. It just -- it just hadn't been my week. I wasn't -- I was on my A game for all four rounds in 2010 and three out of the four in 2011. I just haven't had my A game this week since then.
Do I know why? Not necessarily. One time I think I wasn't driving it well, the next I just didn't make anything. I'm looking for it all to click. I would really like to win this tournament. I don't think any -- maybe the first year or two as a professional, you know, I got a little -- kind of too much pressure on myself to perform but I wouldn't say that was the case last year and it won't be the case this year.
I've been in positions now where I felt a lot more pressure than I could put on myself this week so just about getting into the right rhythm, hitting it in the right spots. Tried to do too much on this course. Tried to push the ball too far instead of letting the putts come to you. You can shoot 25-under but it never really gets there. It's been 4-under and it's been 14 but depending on weather.
Yeah, I feel great about the way I'm hitting the ball right now. I didn't have my putter last week and did some good work with Cameron the last two days and I seem to have gotten that back.
I know it was something simple and it was. So, if we can just continue to do that and roll those putts in, we'll be in business.
Q. Jordan, after Jason won on Sunday, he was talking about part of his motivation to get better was seeing what you had done last year and now he's won 7 times in 17 starts.
I'm just wondering, do you see that going forward in terms of like you guys feeding off each other's success as a motivational tool?
JORDAN SPIETH: Especially playing with him in these kinds of weeks where he's doing what he's doing. Going back to Chicago to Sunday of the PGA to last week, watching the commitment that he had, the focus and then the commitment in each swing that this ball is going where I'm looking and this putt is going in, just stalking it.
I know that feeling. Certainly didn't have it last week. And, you know, I'm looking to get that back and it is definitely there's some motivation there. He's playing his game. He believes his game is better than anybody else's and he's on his game and so it is better than everyone else's.
So, yeah, I would love if that's the case because what he's doing right now I think I can win the next two events and I'm still not going to surpass him in the World Rankings. He's separated himself and that bothers me and it motivates me. So, I would like that to be the case.
You know, I'm also motivated by what Rory McIlroy can do, what Phil Mickelson can do, these guys that have won 4 and Phil won 6 Majors, I think, that are currently still playing very solid golf. Ernie is playing well.
These guys who are legends now and future legends of the game. I can be inspired by all of them. Jason's most recent win is inspiring, too.
Q. How would you compare this course to Augusta difficulty-wise?
JORDAN SPIETH: Augusta is more challenging. This one has lot more water. It's difficult to compare. They're very different golf courses. There is some undulation on this course but you don't have a lot of sidehill lies in the fairways like you do at Augusta.
But the slopes on the greens, the speed control is a focus this week and it's also a focus at Augusta, which a lot of times, you know, you don't put that much focus on it.
But, yeah, it's tough to compare those two courses. I've played Augusta where 18-under has won and played it where what was it this year, 5, 6? 5.
So, that course can play on either side. So can this one, just depending on conditions.
Q. Jordan, Tiger preached the mantra of peaking for four weeks of the year. That's what really matters that, you peaked for four weeks of the year.
Do young world class players like yourself bought into that, whereas a missed cut, the media, the fans might make a big deal of it, you didn't miss a cut on four weeks of the year, whereas since it's not that big a deal because that's your mindset?
Have you bought into that as well?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. It was a big deal. I was not pleased at all and there's nothing worse than watching golf on the weekend when I've teed it up that week. That's tough.
I say there's nothing worse. There's a lot of things worse than that. Professionally it's very, very challenging to sit on the couch and watch a finish to a golf tournament when you feel you should be there. I beat myself over that.
Sure there's an extra focus to peak on the Majors. That's how the legacy is defined as a professional golfer. That's where you can really go down in history. That's why we focus on it.
But, the goal each week when you tee it up is to win and I want to do whatever I can to win. But certain weeks maybe in the gym you're working harder, you're lifting more than you are during a Major or even less than a Major; different things that go on that I've learned in the last couple of years to try and make sure you have the right energy levels for those Major championships.
It's going to be an interesting schedule this year with two and three weeks with the Open Championship and the PGA. But, I wouldn't necessarily say it's just peaking for four events. I don't think that's what Tiger meant because he certainly was just fine the rest of the weeks he played, too, so -- but there's definitely a focus on those.
Q. Jordan, you talked about getting back to playing golf for fun. Is it a tough line to walk when you're as driven as you are to be the best in terms of studying your technique and stuff like that or just actually having fun?
JORDAN SPIETH: When I say get back to having fun, I mean it's not like I'm still not going to get frustrated with myself because that's healthy, you should. If you don't execute a shot that you feel that wasn't that hard to execute there should be some frustration, but no lingering or negative talk is really what I'm talking about. Just eliminating that.
So, yeah, it's not a very hard line to get back to that. It's maybe difficult this week. I'll be honest with you. It's maybe difficult this week, potentially challenging but for the most part no, it's just back to just positive self talk and just really listening to what Michael is telling me as we're walking shot to shot after you don't execute.
He's a very positive person and letting that sink in and, you know, making up for it on the next hole.
JOHN BUSH: Jordan Spieth, thank you, sir.
JORDAN SPIETH: Okay.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports