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June 1, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. We'd like to welcome our most recent PGA Tour winner here into the interview room at the Memorial Tournament. Jordan got that eighth win last week, second in the season. Go ahead. Now that you've had a day, how do you assess the last month or so?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been on the right path. PLAYERS was an off week. I just didn't make anything, but it was close. Putter came to life the two weeks after, in Dallas and Ft. Worth, which is really, really special, being from Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Last week was awesome. It was a great back nine. We stayed real patient and kind of let the birdies come to us.
Looking to continue momentum here. We played really well here last year, I think finished third. Had a chance. Actually shot a great 65 on the last day and actually waited around for a long time to see if it would hold up, which I'd take that round on this course. It's a tough track.
So trying to keep that same momentum off last week into a place we've seen success before and look to build more as we lead into another major.
Q. You did have that strong finish here last year, fourth time, what do you look forward to about this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: I look forward to -- yeah, the milkshakes. Thanks, Doug. I look forward to a lot of things this week. Yeah, I like this area. I think they're fantastic golf fans. Mr. Nicklaus does a great job in creating just a great environment for us on and off the golf course. Arguably the best greens of the year, fastest and purest. So that's always fun to have some putts where you've got to really be careful and use your imagination, some big swingers.
It's also just such a challenging course. I like playing a course where you could, if you strike the ball well, shoot something in the mid-60s, if you really play well and make up a lot of ground. But if you're off, I think I shot in the 80s -- I have shot in the 80s here before. So I've seen it all at this track in three short years.
But, yeah, I'm looking forward to a bit of a challenge, more of a challenge than I've seen than most tracks, I guess I should say, this year.
Q. Jordan, how long did it take you, and what did you do to get over the Masters? And how important was it for you to win last week?
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean, part of it, I got over quickly. It will continue to be mentioned for, I mean, maybe until we have a chance to win and win the Masters again. I mean, so it will -- something like that will always stick around unfortunately.
But last week was really nice. It was only our third tournament back, and that, I think, says a lot about our team that we were able to kind of brush aside and really perform under pressure and a higher pressure knowing that the last time you were under that pressure, you didn't quite pull it off, and it was on golf's biggest stage. So obviously it sticks with you, makes next time that much harder.
Sunday at the Byron, didn't quite have it, but the very next week, that Sunday we did. It was great. I mean, I went from going into public and kind of tentatively, given people would come up and just mention the Masters and that they're sorry and whatever, to being pretty happy going out wherever I want to go because now people are saying, Congratulations, I was really pulling for you, and whatnot. So certainly changed -- certainly had a bit of an impact on me as I just do anything now.
So I think that first win back, like I had mentioned leading up to Colonial, the next time we win will be a big step in moving forward, and I think it was.
Q. Jordan, you had a different but familiar face on the bag this afternoon. Obviously, a fun day out there, but can you just talk about Michael's preparation and how he's helped advance your game.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, Mike was fantastic last week. He's been huge in the process this year of trying to get back and continue what we were doing the last few years, especially to the level of last year, which was a step up from the past.
He's been an extremely positive influence on my life and especially on my golf game. He takes quite a few Wednesdays off. I have someone else come in, whether it's -- we've had anyone from media to a military veteran to friends to my brother today. So here and there, depending on the event, whatever it is, it's nice. It gives him space to go kind of roll balls to different locations and do some more work while we entertain -- I say entertain. I guess, hopefully entertain.
Today I was being entertained by one of the greats of -- one of the greatest athletes of all time. So that was fun.
Yeah, Michael's -- he's great at what he does. He was rough when we first started. We were both rough around the edges, and he's really worked hard by asking a lot of questions, doing a lot of reading, and studying the game a lot to become better.
Q. Jordan, that actually set up my question a little bit. Last week, I think it was Bill Murray. This week it's Peyton Manning. What did you learn about Peyton Manning today? What was your conversation like? Maybe some things you learned about him and you had no idea?
JORDAN SPIETH: I had heard but never experienced that I think he's probably a better guy than he ever was a football player, which is saying a lot.
Yeah, he's a fantastic role model for me to have and for anyone to have, for everything he does. I think this new commercial where it shows the letters that he's reading -- people that are close to him, whether it's Eli to, I don't know, whatever, maybe a half dozen people reading letters, thank you notes that he had written or notes that he wrote to people in tough times, I think that kind of sums up his character, someone who wants to be there for others, share in his positive and tough experiences, how he's been able to get through them or to springboard from positive experiences.
We did some talking today. I'd like to keep most of it personal, if that's okay. Actually, it is okay. So I will keep most of it personal.
Q. Jordan, I just wanted to get your thoughts on the PGA Tour moving their event from Miami to Mexico. I'm just wondering if you'd talked to Donald Trump at all about -- I know he said he's tried to talk to some top Tour players about trying to keep the tournament there.
JORDAN SPIETH: I have not spoken to him. I have not been reached out to. I heard Rory made a pretty amusing comment earlier. I'm not sure. I've never been to Mexico City. I think the PGA Tour is very excited about it, from the talking I've done with them just today. It's so fresh and new. I've not spent any time there.
They're assuring us that everything will be safe, secure, and also a great event and experience and one that is signed up for numerous years. So any time a sponsor comes on to the PGA Tour and signs a deal for multiple years, we owe a lot of thanks to that sponsor.
But to answer your question, I don't know yet. I've never been there. So it's tough for me to speak on Mexico City, but Miami was fun. The golf course was in great shape. It wasn't one that everybody loved -- it wasn't everyone's favorite golf course, but it was always in pristine condition, and some great champions came out of it. So hopefully that continues.
Q. Jordan, how much can you or do you practice shots like the one you holed on 17 on Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it was below the hole, and it was a matted down area. Not often in our practice are you able to practice off matted down. That only comes from large crowds. But, yeah, it was just a plop chip, just a shot we would practice quite a bit, yeah.
It's also very difficult, given the situation, to control the velocity at which your hands are working and just the club face control to get the right launch on it to land as soft or as firm as you want to. So that's the toughest part, that shot under pressure. I didn't think it was that challenging of a shot. It really wasn't. If you go down there, it's actually a shot, a side to miss it on that's not too bad, and I got a pretty good lie off the drop.
But controlling everything in that situation is very difficult. So I was very pleased with it.
Q. Is that because it's a feel shot, and under pressure that's the tougher thing to pull off?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, anything that's touch related is more difficult under pressure because your mind's telling your hands and your body to work faster, faster twitch, and you can't have that there. So trying to -- that's the fun part, though, of what we do is learning how to train your mind and body to work together to control the most minute change in club face control to produce the right outcome.
Q. Just one quick follow. Do you prefer to work on your short game or your long game in practice? And why?
JORDAN SPIETH: I love working on both. I think it depends on where I feel I'm at with either parts of the game. Short game is fun because the ball can go in the hole. Typically, from the long game, it's not going in. You're trying to work it up there to the best chance to capitalize with the short game.
I like working on my short game because you can use quite a bit of imagination. You get a bunch of different conditions -- sand, rough, fairway, bump and runs. And then with putting, I love putting. So I would say short game maybe more than long game. Right now I think long game deserves a little more time than my short game.
Q. Jordan, after the U.S. Open last year, I believe the first two rounds at St. Andrews, you were paired with Dustin Johnson, and he had it going there for --
JORDAN SPIETH: Shocker they paired us, but that's all right.
Q. He had it going there for 36 holes. I'm just wondering what he's like, or what it's like to see him when he is that good. You got to kind of see it there firsthand, and we've seen glimpses of it over the years. I was just wondering what you think.
JORDAN SPIETH: I think that Dustin Johnson is arguably the most talented player on the PGA Tour. I think it's a matter of time. I think he's a freak athlete. I think he's not only a freak athlete, but a freak golf athlete, like he has great hands, great club face control. I mean, he hits some shots where you won't see anybody else trying to. He'll hit driver because -- listen, I'm hitting my driver good. I know it's going right there. And he'll split a 15-yard wide fairway with trouble on either side when everyone else is laying back, and it's an advantage for him, and he takes advantage of it most of the time.
I just think, yeah, it's something that's really incredible to watch. I was pleased to partner with him and have him hit those shots as my teammate too at Presidents Cup last year. That was fun. Yeah, I think he's an incredible talent that's going to win many more times. I think he still has his streak alive of winning eight straight seasons or something. So I imagine he'll keep that going this year.
Q. Did you expect that he was going to make that putt on 18 at Chambers Bay?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes.
Q. I mean the putt to win?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, both. I expected it -- but at the same time, I mean, that putt, that specific putt was almost luck based with the speed that it had to roll at and, you know, the kind of break that it took. But I still expected it to go in at that point after the two shots he hit, yeah, and the holes he had played prior to that, 16 and 17.
Q. Jordan, you left THE PLAYERS saying you sort of let Jason's play get in your head a little bit.
JORDAN SPIETH: Did I say that? I think you might have turned something that I said into that. So I don't think that was it at all.
Q. Well, you were a little frustrated, and it was harder when he was playing so well. Is that fair to say?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was frustrated with my play, and I thought that what he was doing was what we saw at the end of last season, and I was frustrated that I wasn't able to, in that same group, get on that level.
Q. I'll get back to it. He's on an incredible run. You've been on some incredible run. Early last year you were on a great run with first and second and whatever. How hard is it to keep that going? And what do you do when someone else is on that run to try to bring them back?
JORDAN SPIETH: You can't. That's the beauty of golf. You can only control yourself. You can't control what anyone else is doing. You can only try and work harder to get better yourself, to challenge that run. It's very difficult.
You know, I think my best run last year would have been San Antonio, Houston, then the Masters those three weeks. With the second in San Antonio, I thought I played really well. Jimmy just really had it going. And then Houston, made a great putt on the last hole to get into a playoff and then took the aggressive line on the drive, and it just ended up in a spot where I was in trouble. But to keep that going into the Masters when the expectation is there to keep it going, I mean, it's tough because we have our own expectations, but you wonder how patient you can stay if things don't start out really well. It's easy if you start out with three birdies in the first six holes. You already just get right into that same kind of rhythm. But if you don't start out great, it's tough when you know you're expecting it and everyone else is expecting the same kind of play that you've been producing when in reality it just can't be produced every week. No one has ever even gotten close to producing that every week.
So I think there's unrealistic expectations that are put on to enduring those kinds of runs, and I think that, for us, we just try and, at this point, have as much fun, stay as focused as you can, and try and block out any outside noise and just let it kind of come to you.
Q. When you are in a situation, say, on a Sunday, and it basically comes down to man-on-man or a situation which does happen on occasion, do you react differently depending on who that is? If it's Jason, are you not talking to him? Are you talking to him because you're mates? If it's someone else that you know, do you change how you would interact with that person?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so. In all honesty, when it's happened in the past, come Sunday, you just don't -- especially the back nine, you're more just you and your caddie. Not because you want to or choose to, it's just what happens. I don't know how to explain it, but I don't think it depends on the individual, no.
It's been Jason for me. It's been -- I mean, last week it was Ryan Palmer was in the lead. And I play practice rounds all the time with Ryan, and we didn't talk a whole lot on the back nine until 17, and he threw his club and his ball at me.
But to be -- I mean, Ryan, just as it was with Jason at the PGA and Ryan at Colonial, which is the easiest for me to relate to because it's fresh in my mind, you're still saying, Great shot. You're still hoping they play well. You just hope that you play better.
You can get frustrated if they chip in or make a long putt because you're like, man, I thought I had the advantage. I thought I could swing this, kind of a match play type situation.
But at the end of the day, there's more important things than golf. You know, if he's a good buddy, you're going to hope that he plays well. You just hope that you're the one that chips it in, and that happened to be mine this last week, and Jason happened to be the one that made the putts in the shots that mattered that other time. Multiple times.
Q. Jordan, Jason made reference yesterday to your win and to Rory's win and how you guys may have closed the gap on him at No. 1. It seemed to mean a lot to him to be No. 1. Wondering, first of all, how much it meant to you to get there?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a title that I loved holding, and it's one that I certainly want to get back to. I don't think I talked it up or talked it down. I think I certainly appreciated having it, recognized what it takes, but I think, once you lose it -- and then you watch, once you lose it, Jason plays the best field in golf and blitzes it and just stretches even further. You know, that's something that's motivating, and that's something that you maybe thought maybe you did take it for granted a little bit kind of thing. I know he doesn't.
We've had some flip-flopping, same with Rory, in the past couple years now. So, yeah, I'm very motivated to try and get it back. Jason may say we closed the gap. Well, he didn't play. The last time he played, he beat the best field in golf. So there's not much he could have done there. So I'm sure he's itching to get back out here in his hometown. Not hometown, sorry, where he lives. Sorry to the Aussies. That's not fair.
Q. Having said that, you're good enough, do you need a computer to tell you that you're the best player in the world, or do you just believe that no matter what the computer says?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, we believe it. I don't even know -- again, I've mentioned it before, I don't know how it necessarily works. To an extent I know, but I don't look at it. I don't know how many points I have right now. I think if I win this week, I still don't pass him. I don't know.
But, no, when we tee it up, we believe that we're the best. I mean, I think everyone here, everyone who's playing this event should believe that, if they play their best, they will win. You're as good as your last event and your last round and your last hole in my mind. So even though the world ranking is a two-year cycle, I believe we have a lot of momentum right now, and I have high expectations for us this week.
Q. First of all, have you seen replays of your chip-in at Colonial? And if so, how would you describe that look on your face?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have. I saw it soon after. I saw 16, 17, 18 in a row, and I'm not really sure. I was breathing heavily for some reason. Maybe I just like -- I don't know. I think it was like a bit of shock, and then I think after that, it was just a lot of happiness.
I didn't expect to chip it in. At that point, I was trying to leave the ball below the hole. I was trying to plop it up and land it on the fringe in front of the green, and hopefully it stays below the hole so I can be aggressive on my 6-footer, whatever it may be, to try to stay in the lead. So when it crept up, I think I -- I don't know if there's a microphone on me, but I'm pretty sure what I said to Michael with about two feet to go, I go, there's no way it's going in, and then it dropped. So it's a bit of shock there.
Q. Secondly, from the day after Kapalua to the day after Augusta to the day after Colonial, how, if any -- I'm not sure what the word is -- expectations on the year or outlook on the year changed? Has it fluctuated at all?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think at those three times, I think that all were really, really good weeks for me. I played really well, and two of them were wins, one of them I had a bad hole, which happens. They were all great weeks, I think.
The times where I may have gotten down on myself for a year would have been maybe after Riviera or right there around Tampa. I had a couple rough rounds where I didn't have good control of the ball, just couldn't get anything going. So that's where I would -- all three of those times that you mentioned, I believed in myself to be the best player. The other times is when I maybe had a little doubt in the way the year or that week or whatever -- I think, to be honest, it would have been the year because I'm a little -- maybe I exaggerated what I should have felt at the time, but, yeah, it's been a little bit of emotionally up and down this year.
But Michael told me today, our average finish this year is better than our average finish at this point last year. Which I didn't really believe him, and it may not be true. He may be saying that just to pump me up.
But he went over it. I had a few seconds and a couple of wins, this year we got a couple of wins and a second. But he said the average finish, he thought, was better this year, which makes me sit back and say, you know what, it's not just because of last week, but that's pretty good given we haven't really been pleased with our performance this year except for a few of the weeks.
Q. Jordan, when will you go back to Oakmont? And at what point do you start to formulate a plan? Do you wait until you get there again, or do you start already?
JORDAN SPIETH: I plan on going in on the weekend before the tournament, same thing I did at Chambers Bay last year. Try and put in longer days earlier on so that I can kind of cruise and save our legs and save our time and the craziness is kind of the way I put it, that is Tuesday, Wednesday before a major.
So Cameron will be up with me. We'll put in a good amount of work, probably just stick to the same thing we did around Chambers Bay. I think we did it pretty similar to Whistling Straits too.
Q. Have you talked to some of the guys who have been there since you've been there, how it's changed?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, when we played it, it was really soft. I think since then a couple of guys have said it was bouncing a little on the fairway, which I assumed would happen and hoped would happen. It was one of my favorite golf experiences going there and staying there and playing, and I thought it would be even better if it was bouncing on the fairways. It's even more of a premium on ball flight into the fairways.
Q. Jordan, as a sportsman and a competitor, what do you most appreciate watching Steph Curry this year? And is there anything watching him that you can take that translates into helping you get better in golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: What do I most appreciate? I most appreciate that not only did he not settle last year, he did everything he could to improve as a player to better himself and his team, it seemed like, this year, which is -- I mean, very difficult to do. For him to -- it would have been so easy after last season for him to be on a little bit of a lull, but he just shattered his own records. I mean, that's insane off of an MVP and NBA championship winning season.
So to kind of taste all his dreams come true but then not have enough and want to do it again and better the next time is really incredible. So, yeah, I can learn from that certainly that he seems to be even having more fun by working even harder and climbing more mountains, reaching the top of the next peak and then seeing another one and challenging himself to get up there.
So it's very motivating to see somebody who loves what they do so much, and I can relate to that. I love what I do, and I love working hard at it. So putting in the time, effort, to be able to see those results is something that he's shown for sure.
Q. Jordan, when you have a week like last week and you're holing putts and chipping in, what do you learn from that type of experience? Is there anything you can try and take from that and replicate the fields going forward, or is it just golf and that happens?
JORDAN SPIETH: Definitely can. I can definitely take from my adjustment in speed control from the front nine to the back nine, when it seemed like there was more pressure, which is normally a lot harder to have dying speed on those mid-range putts, and we seemed to just -- seemed to really just have a great feel when I got over the ball with my putter.
What I can certainly take off of last week was that I did not make it stress-free on myself at the end. 16 and 18 were the shots that were necessary, but 17 should just be a 4 iron and a 9 iron or wedge to the middle of the green. And it's easier said than done, but I believe in myself to be able to do that to produce that kind of shot.
13, you know, the shot I hit there, I don't even know where it came from. So my ball striking, the consistency of that ball striking, it was better last week, and it was there at the players. It was better last week. But when I really needed that consistency in my kind of mid-iron, long iron play, it was just almost there but not quite. So I can take that and try and get a little bit better with that, which is what I'm doing this week. I'm trying to grind on those mid-irons a bit to produce more consistent strike and just a tighter ball flight.
Q. You can make the argument that you play your best golf when you are stressed. Do you think you're going to be playing the same type of golf at 32, for example? Or will it go in a different direction?
JORDAN SPIETH: I imagine that given, hopefully, the stress that I'll endure in being in contention for a while, you and I will have very similar hair lines.
Do I think I'll be playing at 32? I hope so. I've been this kind of competitor and anxious maybe, whatever you want to call it, for almost ten years now playing golf. So ten years from now, I imagine it can be similar.
Q. Jordan, Jack was in here yesterday, and he said, when he was playing in his prime, if he did not win a major in a calendar year, he considered it a disappointing year. Do you have that same philosophy given the money and everything that's out there?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I don't think about the money. Do I think that? I think my prime is in maybe five or six more years, I hope. I hope we can get better each year so that maybe it's then.
But do I believe that we're capable of having a chance every time we tee it up in a major? Sure. But if we don't win a major this year, will it be disappointing? It really depends on how I play in those majors. If I felt like I -- the Masters, I felt like I played to win, and I felt like I played certainly well enough to win minus one swing. So I can -- at the end of the year, if I play well in the other majors, no, it's not. It's not a bummer if we don't win one.
But I want to have a chance to, obviously, get -- I want to have a chance to compete in all of them. We've been spoiled the last five of them, having a chance to win each of them. I'd love for that to keep going. It's a lot of fun. We enjoy it. That's what we love to do. We recognize that that's not necessarily normal to have a chance of that many in a row, but why do what's normal? So that's the long answer to, no, I don't necessarily have to win a major right now. We've got a long ways to go and hopefully a long career and a lot of majors to play.
So if I can feel like I get a bit better and eliminate that one swing that cost us one of them, maybe I have one of them that wins one of them for us.
Q. Jordan, this might be tough given that you had to live it, but do you think that the way the Masters went down for you --
JORDAN SPIETH: I thought we were done with the Masters, guys.
Q. -- was harder or easier than what Dustin had to go through at Chambers Bay, the way he lost?
JORDAN SPIETH: If I had -- that's hard. I thought that maybe what I had to go through is easier than what Dustin had to go through. It's hard for me to tell. I only experienced one of them, and it wasn't easy. But we've won two majors. And we've won one on that course. We've won the Masters the year before in the same kind of position where I pulled it and made bogey on that hole and then ended up birdieing a few more holes instead of pushing it and that happening.
So in my mind, it was just a fluke shot, but we've already been there. We believe we can do it again, and there's no doubt in my mind that we believe we'll be back in that position and do what we can to learn and be better from it and not make the mistake again.
I think Dustin's, given it was on the last hole, was really tough. He's been so close so many times. I believe he'll be there. It will happen soon with Dustin. I really do. If you take a poll of TOUR players, they believe he'll win the major in the next couple years. I would say well over half of them will believe that, but I think given just the close calls and the fact that he doesn't have one under his belt, maybe it was harder on answering the questions.
Q. Do you think that most of us would look at the putting part of it than having a shot over water, like you were doing at Augusta. Obviously, that wasn't an easy putt that you had (no microphone) but simply, when you boil it down, it was just a putt. Does that make it harder? Like if you had missed a putt of that length? Three-putted?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've three-putted a lot of times from that length. I've three-putted at the end of tournaments, going back to junior days and college days, to lose events. It happens. It's tough. If you told me at the beginning of the week that I would have a 4-footer at the U.S. Open to get into a playoff on a Monday, a two-man playoff on a Monday, I'd have said give me that opportunity anywhere else. Just the greens were not U.S. Open standard that week. So you just never know what can happen, and it makes you kind of second guess any shorter length putts.
Do I think that, because it was a putt, that's why it might have been harder? Maybe, because it's closer to the hole. But it's not like my 9 iron was that difficult. We hit driving range 9 irons all the time. So hard to tell. Again, it's hard for me to relate to that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports