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July 26, 2016
Springfield, New Jersey
JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon, welcome to the 98th PGA Championship, Baltusrol Golf Club. Pleased to be joined by Jordan Spieth, who is back for his fourth PGA Championship and a day ahead of time, happy birthday to you, sir.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you.
JOHN DEVER: Curious as to your earlier impressions of this golf course and had you your game fits into it.
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's fantastic. It's a big golf course. It's university like in that you play 16 holes before you see a par 5, at least, teeing off on the front nine. You don't see 34, 36 very often, which leaves you with a couple less birdie holes on the front nine.
Fantastic finish with the last three. You've got to hit the ball long and straight, and then from there, if you keep it in or right near the fairway, you're going to be able to take advantage of quite a few of these holes with 8, 9 or wedge into the green.
So it's just a really good -- I consider it one of the top American golf courses that there is. I've enjoyed my time playing it.
JOHN DEVER: If we could go back a year to Whistling Straits, as you processed that, is there any consolation that it took a record-setting effort and score from Jason to beat that you day? Does that help?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, yeah, it was a different feeling, because what it did, my finish accomplished one of my lifelong goals in the game of golf, which was to reach No. 1 in the world. So I certainly wasn't upset at the end of it.
I really threw everything I had at him that week. Played solid golf. I had to come a bit from behind after the first couple rounds. Saturday was an exciting finish for me. I remember the putts I made coming in, and then had a chance Sunday again. Every time I threw something on the back nine, he answered. I just didn't bring it early enough.
So no, was there satisfaction given it was a record-setting performance by Jason? I wouldn't say that was made me satisfied. Accomplishing that goal made me satisfied, and Jason certainly deserved that win.
I was talking with Phil about it earlier. It's going to happen in the course of a career where you're going to play well enough to win a major at that golf course most times and one other, two other players are still going to be up there. Like Phil said, the '15 Masters he thought he played well enough to win that week. Obviously The Open Championship at Troon a couple weeks ago, he said the same thing. It's just going to happen. I felt like last year was one of those it happened to me.
Q. Come Sunday, are you playing in a zone, like Muhammad Ali used to say, a killer instinct, or does the crowd still have an effect on you, and if, so what do you think about being so close to New York City and that type of crowd that might show up?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, you could certainly feed off the momentum, but you don't think about the crowd. I don't think about the crowds. It kind of blends together as just kind of colors in the background at this point. We've played in front of a lot of big crowds now.
Yeah, but when you're out there, if you start feeling like they are on your side, it can certainly play to your advantage. Definitely been able to feed off the momentum of crowds before, and being close to New York City, very passionate fans, who will tell it how it is.
So I'm fine with that. I think as long as you can get everybody on your side, because if it's not, it's tough. Which is why when The Ryder Cup comes to this New York metroplex in what is it, four years --
JOHN DEVER: 2024.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sorry, eight years. Anyway, whenever it's here, that's going to be tough, for the other side.
Q. You addressed it a little bit at The Open Championship. It sounded like you were getting a little bit -- you were trying to deal with the burden of the expectations from last year and the perception that you weren't having a good year this year even though you've won twice and been contending. Can you talk about how you're handling that and if you've consulted with any guys with multiple majors how to deal with that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not much, no. I haven't talked to any other players about it. But within our team, certainly had conversations.
It is what it is. It was something to be expected. You talk about the expectation; it was something to be expected. To improve on last year's results, I could improve. I feel like I improved as a player and not have the same results, and to everybody else, it will not look like it wasn't an improvement on the year, but maybe to me it does.
I don't think that I am a better player this year than I was last year. I think I'm the same player; that I've just been getting a bit too frustrated, and maybe because of that, on the golf course, at times.
But recently, I've quickened my step. I've gotten back to kind of the gun slinger, the way that I grew up playing, which is just step up and hit it. I went from over-dissecting shots to really feeling like less is more.
And then not reacting too much to Michael, which I would always kind of talk to him about each shot it seemed like this year. We just said that we wanted to do less of that. Just walk to the next shot and hit it.
Golf is a game where you smack it, go up to the next one and smack it again and you count it up at the end. Simplifying things has really been the trend recently. It's really helped me. Akron, I didn't have my best stuff and we ended up third. The Open Championship, I hit the ball extremely well and just had an off putting week. I feel like I'm actually trending very much in the right direction right now.
Q. We know that you've said your decision not to play in the Olympics was a difficult decision for you; notwithstanding the reason why you're not playing in this Olympics. What is more important in general, do you think: Ryder Cup or the Olympics?
JORDAN SPIETH: Right now I certainly wouldn't hesitate to say Ryder Cup. It's just we're not sure what the Olympics are going to be in golf yet.
The Ryder Cup is obviously -- this year, being a Ryder Cup year, and where we've had a trend down the last few matches, that's something that's very, very much on all of our minds.
Having said that, I feel very passionately about golf in the Olympics. It really is a shame that I'm not going to be able to do it this time. But I do think that it's a very special event for the game of golf, already a global sport, and like tennis struggled early to get guys to go, I think this was just a unique year that will certainly change in four years' time.
Q. When you get to the point where people's expectations for you may not be fair or realistic all the time, how do you define success for yourself and a successful year for yourself? Because I think you've said before, expecting 20 more years like the one you had last year probably is a tough benchmark to --
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably?
Q. To set for yourself.
JORDAN SPIETH: All right. That's a good question because that's something -- it's a good question because I set my own expectations so high. So have I met them this year? Not yet. I still can, based on the goals that we set for the year. I've improved from categories from last year I wanted to improve it, and other categories have diminished slightly. I'm hitting the ball further this year, which is really nice.
I have more confidence in my mid- to long-iron play than I did last year. Short game has gone down just a bit. I'm working hard on it. But I have my own goals, and it's just about staying focused on those.
It is hard to do. It has been hard to do for me. It's something that fortunately, having gone now through it, if I have to go through it again, that kind of crescendo to maybe just a little bit of a valley, if we're in a valley, that's a great valley to be in, right. You mature each time going through it, and I feel like I've matured quite a bit this year as a person and player in trying to stay focused on my own goals and keep outside noise outside.
Q. We've been talking about the toll that the compressed summer schedule will take. Now that we are kind of in the peak of it, how do you feel that you're holding up? And can you envision any better place to put this particular tournament during an Olympic year on the schedule?
JORDAN SPIETH: Can I envision a better time to put the PGA Championship? Probably not. Another week, maybe if we had one more week off, given that we are coming from across the pond, but it doesn't take that long to adjust. It's actually really nice for guys that are carrying momentum from one major. All of a sudden you're teeing it up after what feels like a short week after long travel.
I think the TOUR has done all they can, along with the USGA, PGA of America, the R&A and the membership at Augusta. I think everyone kind of did what they do. Augusta didn't have to do much. That was early enough.
But it is what it is. I think this is the right way to do things. I'm not sure how else it would work. The Olympics are when the Olympics are. Golf is not going to move the Olympics.
I like it here versus having that in between and playing after, for sure.
How do I feel? I feel fine. I'll have some rest after this and get ready for the Playoffs into The Ryder Cup.
Q. We had your score last year in the Masters, Jason's in the PGA, Henrik and Phil run away at Troon. Why are we seeing so many great, great scores, kind of in a short span of time here, and do you feel like there's more than one Tiger out there that you're trying to chase?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think there's any Tiger out here right now. I think that's fair to say. Only time will tell.
Why do I think there's lower scores? Improvements in technology I think is certainly a part of it. I think part of it is also seeing those scores shot in major championships, gives a belief to everybody else that, hey, I know this is a major, which you expect to kind of play harder than normal. But you know what, guys are shooting 18, 19-, 20-under in these tournaments. Maybe that's what it takes. Maybe your expectations of that week are set differently, which could eventually inspire better play.
I think technology has a bit to do with it, but compared to six years ago, seven years ago, I don't think it's that dramatically different; compared to ten to 15 years ago, I think it's certainly different.
But there were still some really record-breaking lower scores back then too. I think as equipment continues to improve, it's just easier and easier when your misses are significantly better, that changes the game a little bit.
Q. You mentioned playing with Phil today. How much did he talk about the final round at Troon and how do you assess how he's handling it?
JORDAN SPIETH: He didn't bring it up. I actually on the first hole just walked over and said, "Phil, what a fantastic performance. It was a lot fun to watch. Really a bit unlucky. You certainly deserved it."
And that's when he said, "Hey, I've been on that side of things, Masters in '15, and Troon even more so two weeks ago." But then he's seen himself on the other side of things where no one is running away with it and he wins in a close battle or he wins by a lot, whether it's in a major or regular TOUR event.
It seemed like he was certainly content with it but certainly a little -- felt like he deserved that Claret Jug again. I think he felt like he played as well as he did in the last Open at Muirfield. But that's putting words into his mouth that I probably shouldn't do. He was pleased with the way he played. Seemed to be feeling a little unfortunate about it, like anybody would.
Q. Two of Davis's vice captains, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker are playing very, very well. What would it mean to the U.S. side if they made the team?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, they both have got a lot of experience and they both have a lot (ph) to get back on the European side.
I think it would be really cool. I know Steve certainly didn't think that was going to be a reality for him, and with his play, there was two Open Championships and he won one of them; he won the one out of that wave, and Rory told me today. He was like, well, I got second out of our wave and Strick won. He played fantastic golf at a tournament he doesn't play very often.
And Jim, the grinder that he is, no one expected him to fall apart, even after being injured. Well, I mean, that guy is the ultimate TOUR professional and really practices well. He's a guy you can really look up to, if you're looking how to practice; not necessarily just beating balls.
I've picked his brain a bit on how he practices so I can try and improve how I do things. But no surprise that he is where he is. I think it would be extremely helpful for the United States Team to have either one of them or both of them on the team.
Q. Speaking from your own experience, when you win your first major, what's the balance between the satisfaction of achieving a lifelong goal and whetting your appetite for more --
JORDAN SPIETH: What's the -- I'm sorry.
Q. -- the balance between.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think there's a timetable for it. I was pretty satisfied for quite a while and then you tee it up in the next major and then all of the sudden you have a chance to make history.
Any time you win a major championship, and you tee it up in the next one, there's a chance to make some kind of history, right. To win two in a row, it doesn't happen very often. That fuels you. Any major championship fuels you. Any tournament we play fuels us.
But the balance in lifelong goal versus in you want some more, for me, it was easier to go to you want some more, given the age; being 21, winning the Masters, you can look forward as, hey, I can make a pretty significant, historical mark on the game if I stick with it and don't just make this be the highlight of my career. Make that be one of the highlights, right. That's still the goal.
And then the U.S. Open, I enjoyed that one. I went on vacation after that one, and then went over to The Open Championship and almost pulled it off there. Each time now that it happens, I think you certainly are satisfied. My goal has changed now to trying to win a career Grand Slam, and this would be a fantastic time to grab a third leg, still young. Younger today than tomorrow, though.
Q. You said you picked Jim Furyk's brain on some practice. What did you come away with from that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I asked him more of his off-weeks, given that he has a family, and certainly that's taken priority in his life, how much he still grinds. I really don't want to get into specifics on it. That's kind of -- I asked him that so that I could kind of keep it to myself, you know. It's a secret that I appreciate. I was happy that he shared it with me.
It had a lot to do with the amount of time, what he's seeing as he's hitting each mid-iron on the range, what he's pretending on each shot, how he generates any kind of pressure he can generate in practice, which is really, really, challenging to do. But yeah, most of it, I'll keep to myself.
Q. The Northern Texas PGA is receiving the Herb Graffis Award this year for growing the game. Just give a sense of what it was like for you playing in some of their Northern Texas PGA events.
JORDAN SPIETH: That's where I started. I started playing the nine-hole events, traveling around when I played baseball as my No. 1 sport. I loved all sports. I really fell in love with the game, playing those events, being able to feel like it wasn't a 7-hour day at the course.
When you're a kid who loves to play other sports, a lot of action. If you're playing one round that's taking that long, it might throw you off the game. I was very pleased to start out in that nine-hole event, get better to where I could move my game up and start competing against older kids in bigger tournaments.
It's really had a significant impact on where I am today. I'm happy to say that my foundation, my family foundation, supports the NTPGA on multiple front. It's honestly the least we could do. I'm very fortunate in all the PGA -- all the North Texas, South Texas, all the chapters of The PGA of America that they have, they are really doing a fantastic job of growing the game through junior the golf tournaments. Let alone all the PGA professionals and what they are doing. This is a special tournament getting to play alongside the guys who truly go and make a personal impact.
JOHN DEVER: Thank you, sir. Have a great week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports