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May 9, 2017
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
CANDACE REINHEIMER: We're joined by Jordan Spieth in the media center at THE PLAYERS Championship. You've had a chance to get on the course, obviously, so curious your thoughts on the renovations.
JORDAN SPIETH: I love it. They went to TifEagle and the grass is very full. Chipping areas are actually quite a bit easier, I think, than they have been in past years, and you can actually putt out of them. The greens are spectacular. They're in phenomenal shape. The visual changes on 6 and 7 I think are pretty cool, and then the 12th hole being totally different, opens up some options, but for us, I'll probably go for it when it's a back left pin and I'll probably lay up every other day. Yeah, it's in phenomenal shape and the new facilities are making it -- it makes it very easy for us to get out here and get everything we want to get done ahead of time in our preparation, and it's a phenomenal week that us TOUR players thoroughly enjoy. It's one of our favorite weeks.
CANDACE REINHEIMER: It was also announced, before we get to questions, that this morning the FedExCup, FedEx renewed a deal for 10 years, which is a momentous announcement for the PGA TOUR. As a FedExCup champion, what are your thoughts on that and what does it mean to you?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's tremendous, and we owe a lot of thanks to, obviously, the PGA TOUR staff on behalf of us players, and Jay Monahan as well as FedEx in working this out together. We just have a lot of people to thank as players in this, because it's only going to help us going forward. The FedExCup playoffs have been very exciting the last few years. We had Rory won it last year and I was able to win it the year before, and that TOUR Championship is a very exciting event, and I know there's going to be a lot of mixing and matching and maybe adjustments in either schedule or and/or what the structure is, but all in all, I think it's nothing but good for us and I think it's awesome and we owe a lot of thanks.
CANDACE REINHEIMER: Questions?
Q. First time here you kind of took to this course like a duck to water and had a very good year, and is there a short answer for what's happened the last couple of years?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not really. I love this course and I think it fits my game well. I want to think that it's just been kind of a fluke couple times in a successful career at this event going forward where those two years could have been spread out over 15 and everything else is solid. So I made no bogeys the first 54 holes I ever played in this tournament, I guess somewhere around 60 holes I ever played in this tournament, on this golf course. That's awesome. So I know I can play it really well if I play it smart, and I think I've just been trying to do a little too much the last couple years. Pete Dye's pretty good at if you try and take some chances and you're not quite on, that's where you get in trouble and you can make some numbers.
Q. Jason Day talked quite a bit earlier today about the grind of staying at No. 1 and that he admittedly, even though he got on that great hot streak, that he burned out and that he just kind of felt like the tank got empty for a little while. Could you talk a little bit about not just getting to No. 1 but how hard it is to stay there with so much talent on this TOUR.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well I think in -- it's hard for me to speak fully to this because I'm 23, but I would say at any, anything that you do at any point in life when you get to where you've reached that ultimate goal where you've had something that you're pushing yourself towards and then you get there, how do you reset it? And how do you set a new boundary to, a barrier to break through? I think that's difficult to do. I don't think there's anything else to it other than once you're there it was such a satisfaction. I mean, I just, it was such an awesome feeling living as that, and I still practiced just as hard, I still worked as hard, but when you get on the course and you have kind of that the target is now shifted to your back, and it's how do you take that target from your back and put it on something else, and so you still have something to chase, some desire to chase. And you still try just as hard on every tournament, and if you look historically at golf it's actually not been very hard to hold No. 1, someone's been able to do it for a lot of years in a row, but it has shifted more recently around, and it's just difficult to do.
I think at any point in anything that you're doing in life, once you get to that, to go to the next stage, it's a challenge. NBA teams, they win a championship, the next year they're not deemed No. 1, they're deemed favorites, but they still have that trophy that they're going for again. Outside of the Major Championships, all the talk and the what you kind of almost tell yourself is that trophy was just the No. 1 ranking instead of that trophy is whatever tournament we're at. In the Majors it's easier to focus on your legacy. It goes off of Major Championship. But throughout the rest of the year, I think it's difficult to stay focused on exactly what's there at hand that week, and it's -- you kind of look aside from that, and that's what can make it challenging.
For some reason Dustin doesn't seem to think so right now, and it's very difficult to beat him right now.
Q. Shifting gears a little bit, opinions on 12 are varied on the strategy for that. I'm curious how you came to the determination that you would play it that way?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well I lipped out for a 1 today and had about six feet, and Michael said that was the worst thing you could have done because now I believe I can do it each time. The way the hole's structured, if I hit a draw and it lands towards the middle or left half of the green, it can go in the water very easily. It would have to get a good break not to. Then if you hit it just right of the green and it kicks straight, you end up in this swale that to any of the right pins, especially back right -- back right you have no chance. The front right you have the potential to putt it up there close, but it's just the back left you can get it up there and miss it right, and even if you're in the rough or the bunkers or whatever, you can get it close to the hole and therefore I think the risk is worth it because you can drive it on to the middle of the green. But those other pins I haven't found it to be worth it, especially back right.
And I hit a -- I've had hit 5-irons -- 5-iron, sand wedge and then I hit 4-iron today and hit a sand wedge to the back right location just to see kind of how it would react, and I mean, if you can hit an iron off the tee into that fairway and have a sand wedge in, we're going to get that as close as a lot of chips or bunker shots, so it's not necessarily worth it when you don't have that room to hit a chip.
Q. As someone who is only 23 and already a two-time Major winner, can you even imagine being Sergio and going 73 Majors before winning, and as a fellow competitor, can you just, like what was that like to see someone who has persevered do that?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I can't, and fortunately will not imagine that, but at the same time it can make it -- I mean, in not being able to imagine, and I say fortunately, at the same time that's got to be one heck of a feeling. To go through that and that be kind of -- the chip on his shoulder for so many years and he's such a great champion and he's closed out so many events, and it was just kind of bad luck. I mean he had some chances in Majors, but for you to win that many events and have them not end up being Major Championships when he's certainly played to that caliber his entire career, you almost think there's some bad luck in there. So for him to come out on top -- Justin Rose very easily and you say should have a Green Jacket between this year and when I played with him in 2015. It's got to be an incredible feeling for Sergio, and I shot him a text as well as probably 250 other people, but just saying welcome to the Masters club and proud to have a great champion in our locker room, and this just, he's got to walk around with a smile on his face for the next couple years just like I told you so.
You know for all the stuff that's been shouted his way over the years, there's a lot of haters that were put down with that win, and that's not why we do what we do, but it's kind of nice to have that, I'm sure, from his perspective there.
Q. As a quick follow, I think you and Patrick were playing with him this Saturday at the Ryder Cup. Did you hear the people yelling "zero Majors" at him?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah.
Q. Is that what you referred to?
JORDAN SPIETH: And I played with him at the PGA last year and we heard it there, too. And I mean, if you look at other sports, you go into an away arena and stuff is yelled and you're singled out. That happens in high school basketball, with my brother's game. I mean, that kind of stuff happens. We're just not used to it in golf. And it's certainly not like what you should, I think, hear in golf, but not typical, but he won't be hearing that anymore.
Q. From Rory to you to Jason to Dustin, you've kind of passed the baton the last few years in terms of the hot guy in terms of No. 1 and whatnot. Even though you're just 23, it seems like a little while since you were at the perch. I just wondered how much you burn to kind of get back up there again.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's not -- I feel like I've played really solid golf over the last year and a half, two years, and I find it odd that I've dropped from 1 to 6 with three or four wins and a lot of really good finishes, including some good wins in Majors. So I guess I need to play less because my divisor is too big. I don't know. I don't know what the key is in moving back up other than PLAYERS Championship is probably the toughest field to win a golf tournament in and I don't know how this ranks in World Ranking points. Is it the same as the Majors?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, so obviously, focus on this week is key. I feel very confident about the progress I've made in my short game and especially my putting over the last couple weeks to get ready for this, and my striking has been plenty good to win anywhere this year, and no, I don't yearn to necessarily go back and claim that at this point, it's very much focused week-to-week on what's going on that week and how are we getting ready for the big ones.
Q. A quick follow, you kind of referenced Dustin a minute ago about how he doesn't seem to want to give up anything. He seems very unfazed by it all anyway. Is that almost the perfect temperament to have when you are No. 1?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think that some experience plays into that. I think, again, the U.S. Open last year was floodgates opening. Whatever pressure he would feel that doesn't seem like -- it doesn't seem like he feels much pressure by his body language and the way that he -- what shots he plays when you would normally feel pressure. Whatever was there in Majors was washed away, and I would expect him to win a couple more Majors somewhat soon. It's obviously a lot easier said than done and in no way am I thinking that that's an acceptable thing to put on somebody, but just as a peer watching and having watched for a number of years now, any week it's tough to beat him right now the way he's driving the ball and the way he's putting.
So, yeah, I think it's a great temperament to have, and it's something I'm envious that I didn't have that and I hope that I can get back and then try and display a little more of that nonchalance that he walks with.
Q. You talked about a little bit, 147 golfers, 48 out of 50 in the top-50, how do you personally go in and prepare for an event that has such a difficult field of competition?
JORDAN SPIETH: No different. World Golf Championships have similar numbers in the top-50 in the world and you get a lot of hot players here, so you know guys are on top of their game. You can't focus on anybody else. You just have to get your preparation done, figure out statistically where do you need to spend a little bit more time, and here fortunately we have the time. I had a week off last week so I came in early. I've had the time and the facilities in order to get fully ready for this golf course. So, no excuses, the field's the field. I believe if I go out there and play my best then I believe that I'll have a chance come afternoon Sunday, and then on this golf course with these finishing holes, that's pretty exciting.
Q. You're, again, 23 years old. There's been a lot made of the golfers who are under 30 who have won tournaments and come on the scene. What makes this such a challenging place for younger golfers? What do you think it's going to take for someone like yourself or Patrick Reed or a couple of your -- a couple of the guys you were practicing with today to win this tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well I think what's interesting about this tournament historically is that it doesn't favor anybody. When I say that, it's not just bombers or short hitters. It doesn't seem to favor experience or newbies, because it requires extreme accuracy off the tee, and then from there taking the right chances when you feel like have you good numbers or you can take chances. You just can't get away with as much here versus other places.
But driving the ball's such a premium coming out of this rough, and now a lot of pine straw added in, where it can come out short or normal, that rough it was normally coming out normal or it would jump. I think it's an advantage to know that it doesn't favor anybody and to kind of know that history of this tournament.
For young guys to have success here, the only thing that's difficult about it is that it is probably the toughest -- it is the toughest tournament to win in golf, and recognizing that makes you know who you're playing against, and at this stage, and this is a Major Championship stage, and so I think just getting through that is difficult for younger guys versus experience. But other than that, not much is different.
Q. Are you looking forward to turning 24?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's just kind of boring from here on out. I think once I got to 21, maybe I think 30 is fun and 40 is fun, but...
Q. Curious what you said, when you were talking about Sergio earlier. Have you ever been heckled, or what's the worst you've ever heard, and how did you deal with it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Fortunately I don't think much. Every once in a while if you aren't able to sign something during a pro-am or you're trying to keep pace in a practice round then someone will say something under their breath like you're a prick or something, and you know, and but that's going to happen when we're in this.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so. I think I probably had it this year when I hit the ball in the water on 12 again at Augusta, which didn't matter, I had to go at the pin. I think I was -- there was a lot of murmuring and some people saying, "Oh, not again" or something like that. But me personally, I can't think of any that come out.
Q. Based on the FedEx news today, what would you rather win, a FedExCup or this tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've already won the FedExCup, so I would rather win this tournament.
Q. I knew you were going to say that. How about just in general?
JORDAN SPIETH: In general, it's tough. You win this tournament, you put yourself in a nice position for the FedExCup, and so I'm going to completely dodge your question and just go with that.
Q. NBC made some of their commentators available to discuss the golf course and the tournament, and we asked them to pick their favorite holes and their most challenging holes in terms of how they viewed this golf course. Would you do that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure. I think 18's probably the toughest. It's definitely the toughest drive and it's the last hole and last hole on the weekend, so it adds a bit of importance.
Easiest holes, 5's a tough hole, 14's a tough hole, 18's a tough hole. And then the par-3 No. 8 is challenging. Easier holes being 2, 11 if you play it the right way, and 16. But there's not -- a lot of courses you're like, okay, wait, take your chances, you're going to get plenty of opportunities. You've got to be really smart on these par-5s to get four opportunities to have four looks at birdie. Normally when you play par-5s you're like hey, if I don't mess up I've got a birdie putt. Not exactly how we think on the tee, but just, out here there's just -- each shot's got its own something. I really, really enjoy playing this golf course because you do have to think about where your placement is off the tee. 11 is the widest fairway, but there's such an advantage on being one side versus the other, depending upon where the pin is, and playing these holes backwards from the green to the tee is a lot of fun here, similar to what I enjoy about Augusta, and certainly has it here.
So the par-5s, obviously, I think are -- because we can -- you can get there with a normal wind. You can get to all of them in two, so you can definitely birdie all of them with the right shots, and then those other par-4s are tough.
JORDAN SPIETH: Nine is difficult because you're not going to really hold the green in two, but certain pins you hit it in the greenside bunker in the right or left and you end up in a good location.
Q. You made reference earlier to the Sergio haters. Rory said today that he was screaming at the TV set at the end of the Masters and that he literally cried when Sergio won?
JORDAN SPIETH: Justin probably didn't enjoy hearing that.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about what that means, not just for Sergio but to have a fellow player say that about him?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, Rory knows Sergio and Justin better than I know both of them. I'm sure he was obviously very pleased with being a teammate of theirs and friends of theirs that there was no bad scenario there on the back nine on Sunday. In his mind, he would have been screaming either way I think is what he would tell you.
Yeah, there's got to be -- I know Sergio and I are cordial and he's been nothing but nice to me, but I don't know him to the level that Rory does, and if I did, I certainly think I would be able to speak more on that behalf. But obviously the emotion Sergio was showing was evident how much it meant, and it should be, and friends of his I'm sure were feeling the same way. I think it's very special. That tournament is very special, and at that point any Major for Sergio would be that satisfying, and I think slipping that jacket on made it all the better.
Q. Earlier Jason also talked about how even at the top of the game, whether it be No. 1 or near it, he's had moments of self-doubt. I'm wondering if you've ever had similar experiences, if you've faced self-doubt, and if you have, like how do you try to get out of those little funks?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. I face self-doubt on a daily basis in tournament rounds. Something gets a little off, I don't know if I can pull this shot off, or you get fearful thoughts and you just have to -- I mean everybody has a different process, and mine is, my best golf then comes out when I say who cares. For some people it's something different, and for me it seems to be who cares; so what if I hit it in the water on this shot. I make a bogey; is that going to change my life? No. If I think about it that way, I'm more freed up. And then if it goes in the water, I need to stick with that. That's the toughest thing for me is being carefree and then not reacting if something doesn't go well. I'm working on it and it's something that everybody has their process, and you've got to train -- that's pretty much just asking the question of how do you deal with adversity in your mental game, and your mental game is something that we should be working on as much as we work on the physical components of our game.
So it's always a work in progress, and the bigger the tournament, the more work that's required.
Q. When people talk about the best in golf, potentially the best in golf, and sometimes at least in the conversations I hear, your name might be the last one to enter the conversation, just because you don't have the power of Dustin or Jason or Rory, are you aware of some of these thinkings, and what are people missing?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure. But I don't really care. That's nice. Yeah, sure, I understand. If I were playing the EA Sports video game, I would probably play with them over myself. They can reach some of the greens that -- they have got a nine or nine and a half on power, I probably have a seven, which isn't as fun to play the game, so I understand that could be maybe not quite as fun to watch, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Doesn't necessarily make as much sense to me. I think you go off of results.
I think that if you look at the four names that you've mentioned, I think there's one that sticks out that has significantly more accomplishments than the rest, and that's Rory. He's won four Majors and more tournaments than the rest of us. So -- almost combined. And so I think you look at results.
Now, obviously, timing is different, too, age, whatnot, but if you look at complete results, then -- but then there goes the age-old question of Tiger or Jack and probably Tiger's results in Majors or Jack's results in Majors, but Tiger's dominance. So there's always going to be comparisons and people are going to be on different sides, like I mentioned earlier with teams, and there's no reason for us to get caught up in that.
Q. Is there too much infatuation with power?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think it's cool. I think it's fun. I don't think there's an over-infatuation with it, I think people like seeing balls just get busted as far as they can, and if they end up going sideways some -- we all hit it sideways some, but those ones that are bombed straight, being 20, 25 yards further, then they enjoy that. If they like watching different shots around the greens or mid-range putts, then myself or Jason have had more success from that range going back the last few years. So I think it's just all personal preference, I don't think there's -- I mean, there might be more of an infatuation with the power game, but I don't think it's overdone by others' perspectives, but it's hard for me to speak to that.
We just go out there and try and do what we do, and I feel like I have a ton of support when I'm out there playing every single week. I think it's awesome.
CANDACE REINHEIMER: Thank you, Jordan and good luck this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports