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April 8, 2017

Jordan Spieth

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to welcome back Jordan Spieth to the interview room. Great round today, Jordan.
MODERATOR: You carded a 4‑under 68. Birdied holes 6, 8, 9, 13 and 15. Jordan is 4‑under par for the tournament going into tomorrow's final round.
Jordan, can you describe your mind‑set heading into today's round after your strong second nine yesterday and how you feel going into Sunday.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I feel great. I mean, after the first round, I couldn't ask for much better than this. You know, we fought back tremendously to have a chance to win this golf tournament, and no matter what happens at the end, we will have a chance to win with a really good round tomorrow.
So new experience for me, coming from behind on Sunday at the Masters, which is kind of fun to say. We have a great history here. Really, really enjoy playing this golf course, enjoy the imagination that's necessary.
Tomorrow might free me up a bit, being behind. I plan to play aggressive because at this point, it's win or go home. So you pull off the shots and you make the putts, then you know, I want to give myself a chance for that to be enough. And if I don't, then so be it. Finishing fifth versus tenth doesn't mean much to me, so that frees me up a bit tomorrow.

Q. Could you just express your level of satisfaction of getting yourself back in this position after your start?
JORDAN SPIETH: Very much so. We've played the major championships really well going back, you know, a few years, and to have another chance at another one and for it to be here for the fourth conservative time, it was pretty easy getting into contention the last few years, given my starts were better.
And this year, it's been‑‑ this is to a T kind of the way the year's been. It's slow starts‑‑ the only strong start I've had this entire year was Pebble Beach. It's been slow starts and just grind it out to comefrombehind.
Unfortunately, you know, I would obviously like to be a bit more in contention at the beginning. But at this tournament, at a major championship, to know that I have to make birdies just to get into contention, and then to do it on a golf course that wasn't yielding many yesterday, and today, it was still difficult, I'm extremely pleased with that.
And that will only do good going into tomorrow, knowing that we needed those birdies. We're going to need them tomorrow, and we were able to get them. Hopefully I can get them a couple earlier.
I'm playing No.2 at even par. I think the field average is 4.2 on that hole. It would be nice to get off to a hot start tomorrow like we have on previous Sundays.

Q. Obviously you're a huge sports fan. Have there been a lot of comebacks you've watched among your favorite teams or university that you can think of that might be analogous to what you're trying to do?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I mean, not to toot my own horn, but personally I've come back and won tournaments before, all the way from six back on the PGA TOUR. So I can draw off those experiences, but sure, watching the resiliency of teams that are down and kind of falling at certain first halves‑‑ obviously the Super Bowl this year is a very clean example of somebody that just refused to lose, and the entire team refused to lose. Therefore, didn't give up, felt the momentum. And when the momentum was on their side, they then ran with it and continued to press and press and get better and better.
And that's what's so difficult. There might be a time tomorrow where the momentum goes on my side, but being able to continue that momentum and to be ‑‑ swing freely and hit the shots necessary by just focusing on where I want to hit it versus focusing on the entire round, that's what is such a challenge, and that's the challenge I'm looking forward to.

Q. There was that moment on 13, audio picked you up, you said, "What would Arnie do?"
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm glad it picked that up.

Q. That's something you guys have been saying throughout the week. Is that the first time that's come up?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think Mike was taken back. He was very much pressing for a lay‑up there, and laying up was the smart shot. I had 228 to the hole. I couldn't see the green, given where the tree was located. I'm right‑handed. I could see the right edge on the tower, but my ball‑‑ the actual shot wasn't blocked. It was just about committing to what you can see and what you actually know is there.
And so he liked the lay‑up. I've made birdie at that pin, I think, the last two years by laying up down the left side and hitting a wedge in there, and I feel like I've done a lot of course knowledge to know where to lay up and how to hit that pitch in there. So it actually, even though it's a hard shot to that pin, it's the most difficult pin on the hole.
I had confidence in the lay‑up situation, but I had a great number. I had a 4‑iron number. It was going to cover if I struck it solid, and I just had to turn it off the tower. And if I overturned it, it would just be in that swale and I figured I would get it out of the swale to the same proximity that I would hit the wedge shot.
So all that went through my head. And I thought, in order to win this golf tournament‑‑ I hit my favorite shot I've ever hit in competition in my life on that hole going for it when we had that decision in 2015. And so there's good vibes. I just, you know, "What would Arnie do" was my way of expressing it to Michael, which we all know exactly what he would have done. And I'm proud that I pulled that shot off and it led to a 4, 3 and a half, almost a 3.

Q. The other day, you talked a lot about your comfort level, not only on the golf course but in this tournament. Were we witnesses to that today? Were you comfortable all day?
JORDAN SPIETH: I did. I got‑‑ with this wind flipping a little bit, I got a little uncomfortable on the last maybe four or five holes, just committing to distances.
16, I had a number where if the wind was where it was forecasted, it was one club. If it was what it was actually doing at the time, it's another. And I hit for what it was forecasted and it was actually into the wind. I got a little on edge there because I was just so out of position on that par 3.
But then hit a really good tee shot and gave myself a look at birdie on 17 and did the same thing on 18.
So wasn't very long that I was on edge, but I've done a great job the last two days of feeling like exactly what I had mentioned before. I mean, may as well swing freely, play with confidence. Just stay present. But just not really, not giving‑‑ you know, I can't really say it in here, but I think you know what I'm saying; about much of anything this week and just freeing me up.
It's been a really good mentality for me and I felt more comfortable.

Q. To be ten shots back after Thursday, a lot of guys with less experience or certainly less success around here, might think they are done. Can you talk a little about the mind‑set of just keep continuing to grind it out, get yourself back into it? And given where the setting is here at the Masters and whatnot, is this as resilient as you've been that you can recall?
JORDAN SPIETH: Last part of the question, it's hard to be more resilient than we were last year after No. 12. That was by far the most resilient I've ever been on a golf course in my life.
As to being ten off the lead, the advantage to being ten off the lead this year versus other years was one guy was four strokes ahead of everybody else. If Charley was going to go off the second round and continue on, there wasn't going to be much that anybody could do. That's kind of what we did in 2015 from the get‑go.
And once that second‑‑ I knew that as we were playing another windy day, that anything under par goes a long way up the leaderboard. I was cut line after the first round, and I knew that. And I also figured that given the way this course is playing, given the conditions that were forecasted, we're probably looking at something in the single digits as a winning score. So I knew if I could work my way somehow back to close to par in that second round, I know that I can shoot, you know‑‑ I know that I can shoot 10‑under over two rounds because we've done it before. It's very difficult to do.
But yesterday's round was huge, and it was bigger than today's in my opinion, because it gave me that chance. I went to bed with my heart pumping faster last night because of yesterday's round than I probably will tonight, because I already knew‑‑ I already knew I had a chance and we did what we needed to do today. And now obviously we just need one more day of it and probably a couple breaks to go our way.

Q. Golfers go decades here without giving themselves a chance to win a green jacket on Sunday. You're now four for four. Can you just take us through the emotions of waking up here in this town on a Sunday with a chance to win?
JORDAN SPIETH: It doesn't help that the tee times go back to 3 o'clock. If we were able to kind of just wake up and get into a rhythm‑‑ but you sit around for a little while. And it's fun. Actually, the fact that this tournament is covered the way it is, you can really do your homework early on and see some coverage, and I think it's useful. I don't necessarily want to watch anything that's being said. I mean, I've hardly been on my phone at all; that's what I've done the last few years. But watching the coverage in the morning is definitely useful.
But it's exciting. I mean, that's an easy way to say it. Waking up and you have a chance to win your favorite tournament that you've dreamt of winning and competing in since you were a kid, and to be able to have your fourth opportunity now‑‑ I didn't know going into my first one if I would have five chances in my life. So it's awesome.
And at the same time, I've been on both sides of it now, and I like the winning side better. So I'm certainly going to go for broke tomorrow.

Q. Could you walk us through 10 and what you were looking the second shot and third shot?
JORDAN SPIETH: On 10? I just bailed out. I've hit a couple‑‑ I've hit a couple 3‑woods that held straight or I didn't hook them the last two days, and I didn't want to over‑correct and over‑hook it. Just uneasy on the tee. And it's not a hard tee shot for me at all. And I took it back, everything was fine and I just bailed at impact.
I had like 190 front, maybe 215 to the hole from the right rough on the downslope, and I took a 5‑iron out, thinking I needed to kind of hit it really solid just to reach the front. I had to cut it around the trees, and the ball doesn't fly as far obviously having to do that.
When I hit it, you know, the shadows are already being casted on the green. It's tough to tell where the ball is. I thought that it was going to be perfect. I thought it was going to land maybe five paces on and just chase up the left side of the green and walked up there and it was long left.
And to be honest with you, from where I was there, it's not as tough as it looks. You are chipping back up the hill a little bit. It's not an easy shot to get close, but it's not a tough shot to have an uphill putt for par. And that was obviously what we were trying to do, and I was fortunate to get in there within four feet or so and knock it in.

Q. How can your experiences leading this golf tournament help you for a comeback tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: I know that anything can happen (laughs). I know that, you know, when guys press out to a lead to obviously‑‑ if somebody gets hot on the front nine tomorrow that's not myself, to stay in there, stay patient, you just never know. It's tough protecting a lead on this golf course, because it's one where you need to play aggressive to win. And protecting the lead, you don't want to play aggressive.
So I know that; if I am able to jump out into the lead, I know that you have to keep the gas pedal down and pretend you're not. And I know that if you fall behind, to stay patient and just recognize that‑‑ I mean, Rosey just shot 5‑under on the back nine, right? That's something that you can do out here, given the opportunities that we have on these par 5s, these reachable par 5s.
After 10 and 11, if you hit the right shots, you have a pretty good birdie opportunity on the Sunday pins on just about every single hole.
So staying patient tomorrow.

Q. It's pretty obvious, guys like Phil and Bubba, what elements of their game work so well here. What do you think it is about your game that has meshed so perfectly with this golf course?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. I mean, I guess the golf course was Tiger‑proofed at one point. You can't really Jordan‑proof it. I don't overpower it. I don't hit‑‑ my fairways hit is 55 percent. That's not very good. These are very wide fairways.
So to answer your question, I would say, first of all, hitting greens in regulation, I thought we've done a great job of‑‑ especially yesterday in the conditions, I hit maybe 15 of them.
It's just been positioning: playing the golf course the way that it's supposed to be played to where par could be your worst score, giving myself short par putts. So it's really just kind of thinking around it and using a bit of experience.

Q. Did you think you lost the second shot on 11 when it was in the air? And then on 12, was 12 any easier or a harder chip than 10?
JORDAN SPIETH: 12 is a much harder chip than 10, I think, to get up‑and‑down.
On 11, I didn't think it was in the water. I thought it could kick and somehow funnel in. In the air it was holding down that left side of the green, which was not the line that we intended. But it was an 8‑iron and it was up in the air. It was one of those where you just like, you know, just don't get unlucky, kind of thing. I didn't think it was‑‑ it ended up about where I thought it would.
But 12 was a very easy hole today. It was as easy as it could play. No wind, 141 to the hole. That's a perfect pitching wedge for me. I guess a little sliding into the breeze, which is nice. I had adrenaline. I just didn't hit a very good shot off the tee, but the up‑and‑down was fantastic, and that putt is one that I practiced quite a bit in the practice round because it kind of goes a little right and then it kind of holds, almost goes a little left. It's a very difficult one to make, so it's nice to see it fall in the lip.

Q. That's what you told Michael; this hole is pretty easy today, after the tee shot.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I did. It was. I just didn't commit to where I lined up. I wanted to hit it next to the hole instead of just committing to that line a little right of it. So tomorrow when I get there, I need to commit to my line.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Jordan. Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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