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April 4, 2017
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to welcome back our 2015 Masters Champion, Jordan Spieth. With his historic victory two years ago, Jordan became the first player to reach 19‑under par at the Masters and went on to tie the 72‑hole scoring record of 18‑under par set by Tiger Woods in 1997. He holds the record for the most birdies in a single tournament with 28, and in his three consecutive appearances, he has finished second or better each time.
After winning twice on PGA TOUR in 2016, Jordan earned his first victory of the 2017 season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro‑Am, bringing him to nine PGA TOUR victories.
Before we take some questions, Jordan, how does it feel to be back at Augusta National where you've had so much success in your career?
JORDAN SPIETH: Pretty amazing. You know, this is just, it's my favorite tournament; I've made that clear. Just a tremendous opportunity everybody in the field has this week. Been so fortunate to have succeeded here and had great success a few years running.
Game feels good. I've had a couple nice days of prep. I played with my dad on Sunday which was a pretty incredible experience. I've played with him before, but to play starting Masters week, to play with my dad, that was really cool.
We're going to have some interesting conditions this year. It will be a bit different than the last few years. But confident that we can get out there and get off to the same kind of start that we have in the past.
So I really thoroughly enjoy this place and this week, and nothing's ‑‑ it gets better each year. I seem to have more fun each year when I play this golf course.
Q. I'm just curious, what is it about Augusta, Jordan, that appeals to you, that suits your eye and that allows you to elevate your game in such a way?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I like the golf course specifically. I like the elevation changes, the sidehill lies, the pull to Rae's Creek, the way it affects putts. It's imaginative golf. It's feel golf and I really enjoy that; when I can go away from technicality and towards feel, it's an advantage for me personally, compared to how I play other places.
I really love the tournament. It's pure golf. When we get to the driving range, it's just us. It's myself, my caddie, my coach. No offense; there's nobody else on the range, and that's actually kind of nice for a change to be able to feel likeyou're not pulled in any direction. You can just get out there and get done what you want to get done.
And then obviously, just the feel, the crowds, leading into the tournament is second to none. I really like that and am able to feed off that. Rounds like today, just played the back nine, and just had a great time out there. It was just a lot of fun. You don't come away from a lot of Tuesdays saying that. It was just a neat experience in itself.
Q. If it really blows 30‑plus miles an hour out of the west, how will that affect your game and which holes become particularly brutal?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was looking at the compass as we played the back nine today. Actually it doesn't affect 10, 11, 12that ‑‑ I didn't play the front nine today. I played 18 on Sunday and I didn't play yesterday.
But, you know, 12 ends up a strong right‑to‑left wind, which is not too bad for a right‑handed golfer.
11, the same into the green because it's kind of nice. Helps me sit back personally into my swing.
13, it changes the game a little bit.
15, it certainly makes those approaches quite a bit more challenging, when you've got‑‑ because you don't feel it.
13, you don't feel it down low, and it's really up there in the air. It's really throwing it and it kind of waits till the second half of the flight. I think I've actually said that in here before. I just had déjà vu (laughter).
But it will certainly affect the opportunities on 13, 15 and 16. It'll make a significant difference there on the back nine and, again, I'm just speaking to the back nine.
But the biggest change, it just puts more of a premium on speed putting. I mean, big time. You don't want to have 5‑footers from above the hole when the wind is blowing. They are already as challenging as anywhere here, and they become a less than 50/50 chance from five feet with the wind blowing. Because of the speed of the greens and the amount of slope there is, the wind affects the ball that much more. There's so little friction on the greens that the wind can move putts from five feet and it's significantly does. More than half a cup sometimes. So it's a big premium on speed putting and leaving the ball before the hole.
Q. Is it hard to imagine the weather that's coming here in a couple of days given what it was like out there today?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, but I live in Texas. A lot of times we get 75 degrees to 40 degrees in the span of six, 12 hours. I can certainly see it coming.
Tomorrow, unfortunately, I mean, Wednesday at the Masters is such a fun day and the experience may be not the same. That's a bit unfortunate, given what's projected with the weather.
But it doesn't look like we're going to get anymore rain after that and the wind will dry it up a bit. Fairways will probably play pretty wet, but with this SubAir I'm sure they can do whatever they want to the greens.
It's going to take a good five six holes, I think, before we really understand what this golf course is going to give us.
Q. Speaking of the Par 3 contest, if the weather holds, how much are you looking forward to having Steven with you? It's the first and maybe last time that he's playing basketball in the years to come.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I doubt it will be the last time because I'll be playing that Par 3 until I'm no longer alive (laughing).
It will be a really cool experience. Steven has not been able to make it in past years given their schedule. He hasn't had the flexibility, being a senior now with his classes. So I think he's getting in this afternoon. It will be pretty awesome if we get that chance. We'll have that opportunity together in the future.
Like I said, last year was so cool. Justin and Rickie made a hole‑in‑one the same hole, which you know is, I think, extreme. It may have happened once or twice before. We just had a great time and we were planning on playing the same group. Steven knows those guys well and they know him.
So hopefully we get a miraculous break, but we'll see.
Q. You let him hit a shot?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, so my dad, I played with my dad, who is left‑handed. Steven is left‑handed, so I think we'll pack a wedge in the little bag. Again, I'm not sure, this is up to the Green Jackets here, if you're allowed to, but honestly my brother will probably take it any ways (laughter). Hopefully it happens.
Q. If you can just reflect on what happened last year, when you go back to the 12th hole, do you find yourself thinking about that or is it something that you are past?
JORDAN SPIETH: It will surely be there and it has been. It is one of many tournaments I've lost given a certain performance on a hole or a stretch of holes. It happens in this game. I stepped up today, first day back with the crowds and I hit it to about that, which is nice (indicating close). Obviously it's not the tournament.
I'm excited about the opportunity ahead, which is now I can go back and really tear this golf course up. I've got the opportunity now for the next, again, as many years until the day I get a letter saying, we would appreciate if you sat this one out (laughter). I've got that many opportunities to go back and really create more great memories on the back nine of Augusta, which we've had in the past on Sunday. And if it happens this year, fantastic. I will do all I can to see all the positives and to grind it out like we did in 2015. And if it doesn't happen this year, then I'll be ready the next year to do it.
It's my favorite tournament. I love being in contention here. I've had the luxury of having that every time I've been here and that's not going to happen over the course of decades. And I recognize that. But don't tell me that during the week because I'll believe that it can happen every time.
Game feels good. We'll step out and try and get a chance to win on Sunday on the back nine again. That's all we're asking for. That's it. Just that small little piece.
Q. I know you've played this course a lot different times of year. How hard of a hole is 12 when you're not playing it during the tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's just tough because there's not much depth to the green and there's swirling winds. You know, you obviously can't miss short but then if you miss long, four or five comes into play just as well.
You want to take it over the bunker because it's the safest place to either side. But that's also where the narrowest landing spot is. The green depth on both sides, the max green depth is probably ten paces, which in swirling winds with the spin that a 9‑ or 8‑iron generates, that can be affected by it going up five miles an hour just like that (snapping fingers), that can throw it off from landing in the middle to the front edge or the back edge. That's what's tough is that you just don't have much depth to land it.
At the same time, I played the hole tremendously well. If you look at my history there, I made quite a few birdies. Hit the green the majority of the time and I've been fortunate that I played it in pretty good conditions. That hole can be quite a challenge in the first two rounds.
Q. You get the chance tonight to be part of a special night. Probably a very emotional night. Do you just kind of sit back and listen to the old guys talk? And if so, if you don't have a chance tonight, give us your most memorable interaction with Arnold.
JORDAN SPIETH: I thought it was incredible that he made the trip last year. I was taken back when I heard he was going to be there, because he wasn't in great health and that he kind of rebounded a bit around this time.
Last year I stepped back and I did a lot of listening, other than what was required to tell him, hey, this is what you're actually eating. Most of it was listening. And there was some incredible stories told. It's just a special dinner.
I don't think guys would really appreciate me going into any more detail. But I thought that it was a tremendous honor to have Mr.Palmer there, and it was certainly emotional, and I'm not sure what this one will be like.
And I think it's going to be very, very special for Danny. I think that's a cliché, but it will be, and it's a unique room with unique people. I'm just happy to be part of it. It's the Masters Club, is what it's called, and this will be my second time and my first time not hosting, so it will be a new experience for me, as well.
I'll have to find a seat and so I'll probably get in there and try and reserve a seat next to some people. Zach already told me I could sit with him at the cool kids' table (laughter).
Q. You certainly experienced the highs and the lows here just in your short career. When you return for the first time after last year's tournament and you drove down Magnolia Lane for the first time, the emotions that hit you, did you remember the highs of winning or maybe the lows of what happened last year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Both. I mean, just that this place has an interesting and incredible history in my life. Just in three years of playing it. I've grown as a golfer significantly out here. And I felt like I handle situations better out here than other places. I just feel kind of a calmness. That's what Michael tells me, I guess the way I normally talk to him when we're not here‑‑ no, I'm kidding.
When I first drove in, I think it was a bit mixed. But also, I mean, I was coming here in December with a group of guys and to have a great time and a completely different experience than the Masters.
And so, yeah, it's more of like when I get on the golf course than it is Magnolia Lane. Magnolia Lane, you're just like, I'm here, which is a great feeling. Then when you get on the golf course, you start to remember certain shots that you hit here and there and different years and different putts you made, and it's pretty cool to be able to reflect on that out here.
Q. I think recently you played a round here with Tom Brady. Curious how that round went and did he have any come backs that day?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say.
MODERATOR: Next question (laughter).
Q. How close were you on 12 today? Looked like you stuck it right up there.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I tapped it in Arnie style. It was about that far (indicating a foot) I turned to the crowd and said, "I really could have used that one about 12 months ago" to some significant laughter.
Q. When you get to 12, the mixed feelings‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH: You add them up after 72. It's a short hole where you have a better opportunity of making a three there than you do on the next hole or the hole before. Stay focused on the hole as it is. These conditions could make it easier to stay focused on the hole, having to judge certain winds and whatnot. Look forward to getting out there, taking it right over the bunker just like I can tell you my strategy for any other hole.
Q. Starting on 13 last year, when you had a chance to reflect on 13 through 18, how proud are you of yourself to be able to bounce back and have a chance to win?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm proud of my entire round. I'm proud of my entire round. I felt like I fought hard. I felt like I made the right decisions and I felt like I made a lot of good swings and made a couple bad swings like any other round of golf. We went to the 13th hole and at that point, you know, you go from leading to now you're trying to come‑from‑behind in a tournament. I may have been leading by one and I made a bogey and I made a birdie and all of a sudden I'm 1‑down and I've been in a lot of those scenarios in my life.
So I went to 13 thinking, I've got two par 5s and a bowl pin on 16 and a bowl pin on 18 and 14. I birdied every single hole in the Masters coming in. I don't know if I birdied 17, but I birdied every other hole from there on in, and just said, give yourself as many chances as possible; you're now coming from behind. Just create a new scenario and I was very proud of the way we went through it.
We birdied 13. 14, I was close on the iron shot, but I made the putt on 15. And it was one of the coolest moments I've ever had at the Masters walking to the 16 tee and watching the crowd one by one, each row, rise up and really believe it with me. I hit a great shot into 16, almost made it. I just had a really tough putt there. And when that one missed, it kind of took a bit of air out of me.
But I could go over 2014 and the same thing. I was proud of the way we fought that day, too. I didn't make the putts. I made some more putts in '16 than I did in 2014.
I hope to have the opportunities that I had the last three years and that's what I'm going for. I'm very proud of the way I've played every single round I've played here. I fought very hard at the end and that's something that we always do.
Q. Your finishes here indicate a great comfort level here, but the precision the golf course requires, does a player ever feel fully comfortable out there?
JORDAN SPIETH: I do. I feel very comfortable out there. I feel like we have it mapped out and as we dissect the golf course, we know where the spots to go, where not to go and therefore the commitment on shots, certain shots you hit versus others, you obviously feel more comfortable but I feel like we're freed up because we know where those spots are and where they aren't.
I've got a lot to learn still about this golf course. That's something I've said a lot of times is that the reason I love this place so much is that I do learn something new about it every single time I play it, a different angle, a different break. You can't say that about many other places. And so I feel comfortable because I feel like I can commit more often.
Now again, I haven't played it in the conditions that we're having these first two rounds. The winds will swirl and you'll feel like it's into you on the tee box and it's whipping off the right there and the commitment of casting one out almost into trouble will be a new scenario for me, which is why it will play more difficult and why the scores will go up. Mainly it will be that much harder around the greens but the commitment of shots with the swirling winds is going to be a challenge.
Hard to say for this year so far, but I'm planning on committing the way that we have in the past.
Q. You've been asked about what happened about last year; have you found it therapeutic to talk about it or was it a necessary evil of today's media environment?
JORDAN SPIETH: Certainly necessary. I certainly understand. I think it's therapeutic to an extent if I talk about it, but I don't think on this stage.
You know, I've been pretty honest and I've answered every question and there's nothing I haven't. I feel like I've been right to y'all in that sense and no one's told me otherwise. But I think certainly therapeutic. Like anything, you go through upanddowns in life, go through ups and downs in life and in golf.
You want to be therapeutic on both ends, and there have been people that I have talked to that I truly trust about 15, as well as 16 and 14. And I believe that certainly you don't want to hold stuff in. I would be crazy.
But I don't think on‑‑ I also have to hold back a lot here because of how things can be and that's no offense to you guys whatsoever. It's just strictly the nature of what I think is appropriate in moving on and lifting up when you're on a low, staying up when you're high and that's what you're looking for in those therapeutic experiences.
Q. As a guy who is renowned for his putting, how much would you say putting is a thing that's born or made, if you could put a percentage on that?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's not born. It's made. Putting was not my strength when I started out on TOUR whatsoever. It's been a strength of mine, but strokes gained tee‑to‑green, I've been in the Top‑10 for each year, which is awesome. I believe I don't get enough credit for that side, I believe, but that's okay. It is what it is. I'm happy to get‑‑ I'm not looking for credit, I guess is what I'm trying to say. But people normally just talked about my putting and that's nice because putting is a lot of confidence and if I've got other players talking about it, that means that they believe my putts can go in and that almost somewhat fear is an advantage for me.
I use that and I think that that's very important but it wasn't always the case. It was through a lot of work, a lot of work over the last three or four years, finding different ways, finding different triggers, some from Cameron, some just on my own, to get over certain tendencies I have or when the nerves are on, how to get through it and still get a good stroke on it. There's a lot you can do on the practice green to get something there. That's how it behaves when you're on course and a lot of adjustments that need to be made to where your mistakes can still be inside the hole is ideal. And we've been in that position a lot of times and that's a lot of fun when the hole starts looking bigger.
Putting is key here, and a lot is made‑‑ I wasn't a good putter and it wasn't a strength of my game until recently and came through work and figuring this stuff out mentally. A lot is confidence.
Q. Any players on the leaderboard that strike some fear on you, like Rory McIlroy?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, Rory McIlroy, he's been there, done that. The guy‑‑ can I say that‑‑ is he here‑‑ (laughter). He's a guy that you know that when you're paired up, he's been there and you don't feel like you have that major championship‑winning edge. So that would be somewhat of an edge that it would be mano‑a‑mano. It doesn't matter if we're here or somewhere else. It really doesn't.
I don't say I've won the Masters and he hasn't. Trust me, he's certainly capable of it and he'll win at least one. I think if you around and ask every single player, that wouldn't be a question. Back to what we said in Houston, you know, I don't think‑‑ I think I'm very confident in the way that we've played this tournament. And I don't know what effect it has on other people.
Those are Michael's words and that's his way of communicating confidence going into this week and that's five minutes after I just missed the cut the week before. That's his way of striking confidence in me to stand on a podium and do an interview right after I missed the cut.
I don't know what other people think. I doubt I'm very scarry. I think around this place, given our success, other players may feel it might be harder to beat us. That would be maybe how I would feel if I've never won here and I was‑‑ like '14 is a great example, playing against Bubba Watson. I didn't feel like I would have‑‑ I felt like Bubba had maybe a slight mental edge at this place over me then. And so I think that maybe in turn could create that on somebody else but depends who that other individual is.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan, and good luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports