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May 31, 2017

Jordan Spieth

Dublin, Ohio

DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament. Jordan, thanks for joining us for a few minutes. You're making your fifth start here at the Memorial. Good finish in 2015, tied for third, I believe. And so it's good to be back here, and certainly coming off a good week last week at Colonial. So with all that said, just a few comments on being back here at Muirfield.

JORDAN SPIETH: It's a fantastic tournament, one of our favorites. The hospitality is second to none, and the golf course is right up there with the best in the country in my opinion. So excited to be back. Looking to continue some momentum off of last week, as we head into the second major of the year.

Q. Looking for your thoughts on the golf course in general, how it suits your eye and being here at Muirfield, what it's like?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think it's got some similarities to Augusta. It's a second shot golf course with some very quick and undulating greens, where you want to be on the correct side of the greens. The difference is being -- you know, Augusta is a little more severe on the greens, but out here you've got really thick and very challenging rough off the tee box and around the greens.

So this is one of the hardest tournaments of the year. The scores tell you that. It's an extremely good shape as it always is. So nothing is really different. I think they took out a couple bunkers, but nothing different than the previous -- I played this course as much as any other, and I thoroughly enjoy playing it. I've shot 81 and I've shot 65. That's what great golf courses will do to you over time.

Q. When we watched Jack play, he was very aggressive. When you play this golf course, are there places you can really be aggressive or is it like half defensive, half aggressive? How do you really go at it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Depends on how you position your tee ball. If you're positioning it on the correct sides given the way the angles are into the greens, you can be aggressive and you can make birdies.

Par-3s you've got to kind of take your medicine on. They're very difficult. And then on these par-4s and 5s, all the 5s are probably reachable tomorrow with the wind being down, which makes for four birdie holes. And then you've got a few other wedge opportunities. But that's all obviously if you position yourself well off the tees, and that's when you can be aggressive.

And it's pretty lenient. When we compare it to a course like last week, it's very lenient. But you've got to be in the fairway or else you're in some big trouble out here.

Q. Just talk about being at this tournament and having Jack as a host this week.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, to have the greatest major champion of all time as your host and you're at his place, you know the course is going to be tough, but you also know it's going to be a great week.

And I think guys really embrace having Jack around. He's a great guy to have around you. He's always wondering what you're working on and he'll come up and whether -- he's pretty busy this week, but if he gets a minute he'll come over and try and talk to us and ask how things are going and what he can do this week to make it even better. And you don't really have much to say.

But he's been a really, really cool guy to get to know, role model to get to know, over the last four years or so. So it's really nice being here with him.

Q. At times like this, what balance do you strike between the tournament you're playing with an eye on the major next week or a few weeks after?
JORDAN SPIETH: I used to be looking, I say used to, as if I've been out here for decades -- but I did in previous years look -- really be focused on looking ahead. And I've realized that it's most important to look to now. Look to this week. You start looking ahead and you're trying to work on things for two, three weeks from now, I don't really have anything that needs to be worked on that I can't figure out within a week or two weeks.

So for me, at least in this circumstance -- in the Masters you go through most of the calendar year before the first major of the year. So you're pretty anxious, and you're definitely looking ahead a couple of weeks. I have in the last four years.

This time, when you get to this tournament, I'm really not thinking about the U.S. Open at all. Each major is a little bit different, I think. The John Deere I've looked towards the British sometimes. And even when I didn't play it, I was looking towards the British leading up. But I can only speak for this week right now, in saying that I'm not really looking towards Erin Hills in my preparation this week.

Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm going to get there, I think, on the Saturday before and stay through, that's the plan. That's what I did at Chambers Bay. That's what we did at Oakmont, as well. I think we may have gotten in Sunday.

But I'm going to get in Saturday and try and play maybe 18, 18, 18. Play a full round maybe Sunday and Monday and that way I just play nine Tuesday and Wednesday and do the majority of the work early on and kind of be able to just fine tune things the last couple of days.

Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it will be -- I don't think you'll need as much on course preparation. It's not as tricky. I think it's a little bit more in front of you. It's a very different style golf course even though it's kind of coming off ahead of time as being similar.

Chambers Bay, you had big mounds to play off of onto the greens. This is kind of rolling hills. Although neither one has a tree that I remember on the golf course, it was kind of a new style American links type, they both are, I think they'll play tremendously different. But I think course knowledge is necessary, even more so there than a course like Oakmont that you've maybe watched on TV. Even seeing certain holes, if you just watched major championships in the past can help you.

And so when you come to a completely new venue, it requires quite a bit of work. And it's usually not the case with majors and it's usually not the case with professional golf in general.

Q. Sort of similar to Doug's question, but mine is the comparison. With your experience in 2011 here, can you just offer a small scouting report on the course?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been asked that a few times. I don't remember much other than the rolling hills. I know it has a finish of three holes where you can make birdies on those holes, which is similar to Chambers Bay. You've got a par-3 of similar length to the 17th -- with the 17th at Erin Hills. You've got a par 5 to finish that will probably be reachable, but you can also get in trouble. And a 16th hole that's a short par-4. So the finish, which is maybe a bit unusual at a U.S. Open, can yield birdies. And I remember that.

But I don't remember a ton. I couldn't even -- if you say, Tell me about the 5th hole, I don't know what the 5th hole. I know the first is a par 5. And I know the last few. And the rest I'll remember them as we play them. But my recollection from, what was it, six years ago now, isn't great. We've played a lot of different holes between now and then. I wish I had more for you.

Q. You mentioned the anxiety of waiting so long to play the Masters. It's an eight-month gap or whatever between the PGA and the Masters. For three years you slept on the 54-hole lead. This year you didn't, but you were close enough. I'm wondering, was there a different feel to that, being just off the lead, maybe slightly more comfortable than sleeping on it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it just led to a couple of jokes when I got to the tee. The first tee starters said, You're here a little early this year. I was the second to the last group.

Yeah, I think I slept better. I definitely did, knowing that I can kind of come from behind. It's easier. Your own expectation is you're not in control of that round, so you're just looking for obviously a great round, but obviously some help. If you're in the lead, it's all you. You're controlling. If you beat the guys in that round that are around you, you win the tournament.

So it's a different vibe when you wake up, too. Obviously I would like to be in the lead because I like -- we've had a lot of success in the pole position going into the last 18 of a tournament. But it was kind of nice sleeping a little better on Saturday night.

Q. How did you handle those other three? Did you sleep well? Did you not sleep well?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think I did.

Q. How did you fill the hours? Because it's such a late tee time.
JORDAN SPIETH: I end up waking up pretty much wide awake at 7:00. I remember that from the three previous years. Normally flip something on. Sundays on those -- there's always movies on on Sundays. I watch a morning movie. I'd stretch and eat breakfast at the house. And end up getting to the course early enough to do a 30-minute putting and chipping session before I'd eat lunch. I'd go to the gym, get worked on.

I mean, I can fill the time. That's not that much of a problem. 2:45 is a late tee time from 7:00. But once it got to about 10:30, 11:00, we were on the move. It was only just kind of eating breakfast and hanging around.

Q. What did you see and feel on Sunday at Colonial that you were waiting to see and feel?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I was -- I felt like everything was close and I had been voicing that even through the two missed cuts. I thought I'm striking the ball well, it's a matter of time until the short game clicks in. I'm putting in the time. It just needs to happen on the course.

And I went through a nice run, 4-under in five holes to start my back nine on Friday and that's where it started. And I started to see my putts go in and commit to my stroke. And my short game shots were better. Wedge play was fantastic.

Then the last two rounds, I played really solid golf. It was just, for me, I was looking on Sunday for limited mistakes. I'd made 11 bogeys through three rounds, which is normally a tremendous strength of mine is bogey avoidance. And I made 11 of them through the three rounds.

And I said, I'm making these birdies, I'm making up for it now, where I wasn't the two previous weeks. I'm capitalizing. Let's just take a backseat, wait for them to come to us. And that's what I was looking for on Sunday. And they did. And we didn't make any mistakes is on Sunday. I wasn't close to making a bogey on Sunday, other than 18. And even then it was a 5-footer or so.

So I was just looking for that round without mistakes, where I could shoot in the mid-60s, get one of those numbers I can fall back on where I knew I felt pressure but I knew I was playing the right way to limit those mistakes. And a round like that is necessary, even if it's just one round. Hopefully it's more, including this week. But rounds like that are necessary as you go into the U.S. Open. And avoiding mistakes is the most important characteristic.

Q. With the U.S. Open, what in your mind makes a great U.S. Open player given the difficulty of today's set up and the different skill sets? What is it that comprises a great U.S. Open player?
JORDAN SPIETH: Their average finish. I don't know how you get to those average finishes. You saw DJ win and he's a bomber. And I'm not a bomber, and we won on a course that was a bombing golf course. It's about -- it's just a very, very confident player, somebody who's not -- like I said avoiding mistakes, that's your mentality when I talk about it now.

When you tee it up on Thursday of the U.S. Open, it can't be. You've got to the sit there -- you've got to stand there on that tee box and say, I'm hitting it into this area, this is what I'm doing to attack this hole, instead of there's trouble left, as long as you miss it right we can make par. That's where you get into trouble. It's a very, very confident player.

Q. Is it external focus or internal focus?
JORDAN SPIETH: External or internal focus at a U.S. Open?

Q. Yes.
JORDAN SPIETH: Most of it's internal, yeah. I think internal focus being able to -- when I say that, it's not running everything through your mind, it's kind of clearing your mind internally. Trying to adjust to what you recognize is a different golf course, different tournament. It's just different from anywhere else. So internally you've got to mess with this whole struggle of taking your medicine on shots where you sit there and you think that you can go ahead and fire at a pin.

Even at a course like this week where it is one of the most challenging courses of the year, we've got a 7-iron our hands. Most of the pins you can say I'm going to fire at that. U.S. Open, a lot of times even with a wedge sometimes you have to take your medicine. And that's an internal struggle for us. And it's something that we definitely have to deal with.

Q. On a scale of one to ten, with someone like a Billy Horschel or Pat Perez and Dustin being about a negative three, where do you put yourself on the scale of an emotional player?
JORDAN SPIETH: Is Pat Perez a ten?

Q. 12.
JORDAN SPIETH: Okay. I'm probably, in all honesty probably a 7 or 8.

Q. Where does whatever kind of an emotional player you are, however you want to describe that, where does it help you and where does it hurt you? What I'm getting at is whatever side you're on, is it something you had to work on to make sure that it didn't linger, good and bad?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure. And it still is something that you've got to work on, especially at a U.S. Open.

But away from that, in general, I think it's helpful when I was in a position like I was last week where it gave me extra fight just kind of being who I am on the golf course. I could have very easily said, you know what, this is another one of those weeks, I got a bad draw, bad breaks, some lip-outs, I'm 3-over on Friday, I'll try to squeak it through. But there was emotion or fire that said I know we can play this golf course, this is not the way that we're playing. I'm not okay with producing the scores with the way I feel about my game. And that kind of emotion -- that's not necessarily emotion, but the emotion that I then expressed as I made a few birdies, that kind of helped carry me through.

I birdied 1 and 2, which aren't too hard to birdie, but then I made this putt on 4, and I started to walk it in on a mid-range putt. On a Friday, to get to even par for the tournament and still be seven back from the lead, like that was a big putt for me. I used that kind of emotion to kind of get myself over the edge and gain some confidence. And it happens kind of in the middle of the round.

It certainly is more fun when things go well at the end of a tournament, being in a more -- I would call myself just past average, just a little bit more emotional than average. It's fun when you're kind of fist pumping and living the highs of the weekend, but I don't think it's necessarily advantageous when it comes to that. But I thought it was advantageous in a scenario like last week where you can really get yourself going quickly and when it looks like it doesn't really matter.

Q. If you played as a flat-liner, how would that work for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think it would be a whole lot different. It would just be really hard for me to actually do it. I don't think the results would be any different. Again, I think certain situations it could help.

I think there's times I overreact to a situation. Michael calls it, there's a Jordan hyperbole. That's what he says when I'm kind of overreacting a little, and I know to back off, that things aren't that bad.

But at the same time I like having the extra emotion. Feeding off crowds, feeding off shots or putts. And I feel like it helps me go into the next hole. I feel like I'm on an actual run and continue it.

Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Not even to myself? I can't speak to myself? I'd probably go five or six. I think I could. But then I'd forget, and that's why I'd start talking. If there was someone standing in front of me, a reminder, then I could probably keep it going.

DOUG MILNE: With that, we will say thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

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