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August 24, 2016
Farmingdale, New York
ALEX URBAN: We welcome defending FedExCup Champion Jordan Spieth here at The Barclays. You're fifth in the FedExCup now, a couple wins in the season. Talk about your mind-set going into the Playoffs here, obviously something you've won before being defending champion.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, build momentum. You know, last year I missed the first two cuts in the Playoffs, which is not ideal for the start. But with the way the points system works, if you just keep yourself in the top five and you control your own destiny in East Lake.
I'd like to build some momentum. I'm happy that we're playing such a difficult golf course. It's my first time here. Try and play some solid golf and get a little bit better each week. Those last two with the TOUR Championship and The Ryder Cup, obviously is where I'm looking to play my best golf of the year at this point. I'd like to build it starting this week.
Q. You mentioned it's your first time here on this course. Obviously it's a very long, difficult course. What's your impression of how it sets up for your game compared to some of the bombers like Dustin and Jason?
JORDAN SPIETH: If the bombers are hitting it straight, obviously any course plays into their favor.
The way the rough is, you need to hit it a certain length here because these par 4s are so challenging, so demanding. So you've got to be able to carry the ball, in my opinion, a good 275 or more off the tee. But again, premium on the fairways.
The shots into the greens, the greens are very flat surfaces. There's not a whole lot going on in them. So we'll have to keep track of how they start to dry out. They are soft right now, where a 5-iron hit -- if you striped a 5-iron solid, it will stop within five, ten feet of where it lands. There's a lot of those kind of shots into these holes.
If it starts to dry out, hitting the fairways becomes that much harder. But if you do, you're obviously hitting a shorter iron in. It's hard to tell how the course is going to play. It got dumped on on Saturday and then Sunday it got quite a bit of rain, too. Yesterday and today were softer.
But I know the last time it was year four years ago, it started to get very, very firm, and the forecast looks like that could become a reality again.
So it's hard to tell who it plays into right now. I like it personally. Just got to make sure you're hitting that driver straight.
Q. You're in a little bit different place this year than the same time a year ago. But you're still top five. How optimistic are you to get back to that level where everything is hitting on all cylinders the way it was last year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, like I said, it wasn't; the first two events in the Playoffs, I missed the cut in both of them. That's the only time in my career I've missed two cuts in a row.
So things are starting to take shape. I struck the ball nicely at the last two majors, my last two events, and just didn't really have my putter, which is normally the putter is there. So I put I lot of work into that, into my ball-striking I have, especially the second half of this year. It just takes a couple rounds for it to click and we're back in a rhythm.
I have the potential to play my best golf of the year yet to come in these next five, six weeks, so I may as well grind and do what I can to make that a reality.
Q. How would you classify your season to date, and did the last couple of weeks give you a chance to hit the reset button and give you a clean slate going into the postseason?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's been a really good season. If I have a season like this and I'm out here for 20 more years, that's 50-some odd wins, so I'm certainly okay with that (chuckles).
With the close call at the Masters; I had a chance to win that one. A little disappointing in the other three to not give myself another chance. Was on kind of the bad draw, so I can obviously look at it that way. Kind of need to be on the good draw to win major, unless you play out of your mind.
I'm very pleased with the way the season's gone. Again, I'm setting some pretty lofty goals for myself for the next six weeks, and it needs to cap off with us retaining that Ryder Cup. That's very much on my mind.
I'm pretty excited about the FedExCup Playoffs obviously and trying to repeat as the guy standing on the 18th green at East Lake, now the ninth green.
But if we can build that momentum and carry it over into that Ryder Cup, that's our really next major in my opinion.
Q. First of all, what did you do with the Coke machine?
JORDAN SPIETH: The Coke machine? It's been with me. I've moved houses since then but it's like in the indoor/outdoor area, and I still use it. My sister uses it every time she comes over.
Q. Do you think you have a chance for your peers to vote you as Player of the Year, and if so, what would you have to do to change their opinions?
JORDAN SPIETH: I believe the Player of the Year award should go to someone who wins at the highest level. At this point, pending winning the next four events, I don't think so. I mean, I think it should go -- Tiger won it in 2013 without winning a major but he did win THE PLAYERS, and the other events were all some of the best fields in golf.
But I think that it's hard to not give it to someone who has won a major championship that year.
Q. Who is the frontrunner then?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, it's tough. I would probably put Henrik at the top, if he continues -- and he's obviously dangerous at East Lake and in these Playoffs. I think it's up for grabs right now, honestly.
DJ, too. With a World Golf Championships and a major -- I had forgotten that he had won. Actually let me change that: I think DJ is probably the frontrunner right now.
We are soon to forget, when you just look at the most recent play, it's funny. But I would put DJ frontrunner with Henrik with a chance to take it over. Jason still can I think, even without a major.
Q. You said you agonized over your decision to not compete in the Olympics. Now that we are a few weeks past it, are you still confident that that was the best decision for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: At the time. At the time. I watched it. I really enjoyed it. It came off I thought tremendous for the game. I enjoyed watching the finish to the Olympics and I wished I was there.
At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me. And I told you guys in that press conference, it was the hardest thing I've had to do. The potential for regret was going to be there and it certainly was while I was watching, so that's why I Tweeted out, "I'm looking forward to setting it as a goal to be there in 2020."
Q. What was going through your mind watching those guys compete and watching Justin get the Gold Medal?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I kind of thought of it as -- personally, I thought of it as the hype of a major championship as from a player's perspective watching. I remember finishing the U.S. Open, and then watching Dustin come down the stretch; finishing The Open Championship, watching Phil and Henrik battle it out, was actually probably a more similar scenario, and that's kind of what it felt like to me.
To someone else, it could have come off completely different. But it seemed that way. I felt like I was obviously rooting for Kuch, for the Americans to grab a medal. It was a tremendous comeback he made the last day. And then knowing Justin and Henrik and having played quite a few rounds with them this year, it was pretty cool to watch that battle, as well. I thought it ended successfully.
Q. With The Ryder Cup just a month away, what are your recollections of your feelings and nerves when you and Patrick stepped on the first tee there two year ago, and how does that compare to competing and winning majors?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I've mentioned this before; that the Ryder Cup in 2014 prepared me for what happened in 2015. I felt like each hole I played was a back nine of a major championship hole. It's played with that much passion, that much intensity. There's nothing like it in golf. There's nothing like The Ryder Cup.
So I can't even imagine what it would be like on a winning team, but we are going to go ahead and try and bring that feeling to ourselves and to our country.
I remember the first tee shot, guys were taking driver because they wanted the biggest head. They didn't know exactly whether they would hit it on it. It was an unusual feeling. I hit the longest 3-wood, probably the most solid I've ever hit in my life. Luckily, because again, I didn't know where it would go. But it will be really fun playing on home soil, as well.
Q. What kind of change do you see coming here this Ryder Cup and going forward with the U.S. Team and all the kind of 20-something guys, you, Koepka, Reed, Rickie, even a guy like Daniel Berger coming up, and what do you think it can become?
JORDAN SPIETH: Are you talking about players on this team specifically or the future?
Q. The future, this one coming up and going forward.
JORDAN SPIETH: I feel like, correct me if I'm wrong, but kind of every four or five years, there's another group that you'd be talking about of young guys coming up. I'm happy to be a part that have group this time. Guys are getting fearless, younger, and having success.
Berger had a close call at Honda last year and this year, he has the same situation and he ends up winning by three. Just quick learners, quick closers. Justin has a couple close calls and he goes and wins in Malaysia. Rickie, he won early, he had a lot of close calls, especially in majors, and then he had a fantastic season last season and continued over into the beginning of the season.
As far as younger guys, they just seem to be -- it only takes one or two missed tries, and then they figure it out. That's really good. I think the combination of experience, a little bit of scar tissue or red ass that some of these older guys have of really wanting to right the wrong of The Ryder Cup past; that combination with some new blood is always -- I think that's a successful formula, but I think that's nothing you necessarily have to search out for because it's already kind of falling in place that way.
Q. You played a lot of courses and here we have the iconic warning sign for the average golfer. Now that you've played this course, can you understand why that sign is up?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes. It should say: It's risk even for really good players.
The course I've played the last two days is up there with the hardest probably top five courses I've ever played in my life, and it's Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and it's soft.
Oakmont is obviously challenging, any time we play a U.S. Open, it's tough. But as far as an everyday-type golf course, obviously they grow the rough up here more than unusual. It's up there with the top couple. It's good. It's a fair test, though. You don't have to do too much to it. You grow the rough up; you've got the fairway that bends this way or this way, and you hit into it and you're fine. If you don't, you're penalized for it.
I think it's great. I think you have to work the ball both ways here. You have to hit a variety of shots into the greens, different trajectories. It's the all-around golfers' golf course.
Q. Going back to The Ryder Cup again, is there a certain knack to playing well in that format that's different? We see guys like Ian Poulter play well there, even though he's never won a major, and guys with great career resumÃ©s but haven't done particularly well at The Ryder Cup. Is there something unique about it that explains why it may bring out the best in certain guys?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's maybe a better question to ask someone that's played on more than one.
I think each format is significantly different on the way that you should play it from fourball to foursomes to singles matches. I think that you've got to find the right partners for everybody, people you're comfortable with, have a couple different options in case someone's on their game, someone's a little off, and you can kind of pair, because I think four people sit each round.
I think it's a better question to maybe ask someone with more experience.
Q. On the Olympics, when you said, "I wished I was there," what made you feel that way?
JORDAN SPIETH: The passion that everyone was displaying; the videos I was getting from Rickie of all the guys and just how much fun everybody was having on and off the golf course. The golf course was beautiful, and then the Olympic glory at the end of it. The combination of just about everything.
Q. It wasn't just a final-day thing?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, it wasn't. It was from when I watched the opening ceremonies and on. I knew that the opening ceremonies would be tough, but I still wanted to watch, like I watch every Olympics. But it was from there on, yeah.
Q. Did you do anything fun that you could have sent him a video back?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I don't think so. Probably not to that extent. That would be hard to compete with.
Q. If you only get one, would you rather win the FedExCup or The Ryder Cup the following week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Ryder Cup. I got one of them. I don't have the other one yet (laughs).
ALEX URBAN: Jordan, good luck this week and good luck defending your FedExCup.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports