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July 21, 2017

Jordan Spieth

Southport, England

MIKE WOODCOCK: Just like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room.

Jordan, very well played today. One-under par, 69 to take you to 6-under and it looks like a two-shot lead going into round 3 tomorrow. Can you talk us through the eagle on 15. That was crucial on your back nine.

JORDAN SPIETH: Definitely. I thought 15, as long as you don't hit it in the two right pot bunkers, should be able to reach the green in two. I didn't hit a great drive. With a nifty lie, I had a 3-iron out and I changed to 3-wood because I've hit the shot many times out of the rough with the 3-wood where you open the face and hit a cut shot off the left, and let it just slide. And it was the smart shot because it was probably going to come out -- it was going to come out better than the 3-iron.

There was no worry about covering anything in my mind. And as long as I got in it on line with the green, it was either there or past. And Michael had said, "Why don't you hit one about 60 yards short? Your wedge game has been so solid." I watched on coverage and saw if you were past the pin, it was better. So I went with a 3-wood.

I mis-hit the shot because, which is probably why it looked so gross on the Shot Tracker, and obviously wanted it to miss the last bunker. I lined up way left with the whipping wind off the left, just to open the face and have it get anywhere around or over the green. And there really wasn't much trouble to it. I thought the closer I was getting it to the pin or long, the easier the 4 would have been. I hit it low off the heel, which is easy to do when you're trying to carve a cut. And it just -- one hop, scooted around the group of bunkers there, and then it was obviously fortunate to get all the way to the green and keep on going towards the green instead of over towards the left bunker.

So really nice to capitalize on it. I knew after it had missed that bunker it was going to be pretty good. And then Michael and I had a reaction that I think kind of told what the shot was, which we knew it was pretty lucky. And got away with one there. And I was able to knock that putt in, get me to 7-under, which was a place I didn't think I'd get to today starting the day. And we got in at 6 and it was a very, very solid day. Very pleased with the score.

Q. When you were watching the coverage early and you know the weather that's coming in and by the time you tee off it's blowing pretty well, what was your goal? I think there was an assumption the leaders would come back to the pack a little bit and you did not do that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would have gladly stayed on the couch, I was watching the coverage this morning for even par, and I'd still be there right now. I would have loved that. Because I knew it was going to get windy. It was up to 95 percent by 4:00, chance of rain 100% 4 or 5:00. The wind was going to drop maybe five miles an hour but it was going to get wet. And that was only going to make it play harder than what it was playing this morning. And I saw from this morning it wasn't playing easy. I think Rory was able to see him make a few birdies early. And with some really, really solid shots and really good control of the ball off the tee in a good position.

So it's very difficult, one, to hit the ball like Rory McIlroy, but it's also difficult when it's raining to really have full control of the club face and where the ball is going. You get a little water in between the ball and the face and it could scoot way right, way left, like that. So at that point this morning it was tough watching. It wasn't a great feeling knowing we were coming into something harder than what we were watching.

Q. You spoke at length on Tuesday about the draw and then you've just said about the conditions you faced today. With that in mind, how satisfying is it to be going into the weekend in ball position?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, very satisfying. I'm not sure what the difference was. I heard something like a stroke and a half yesterday before today. So not on the good end of the draw but we seem to have grinded it out. I don't know if we'd be in any better score if I was on the other side of the draw. You just don't know where your breaks fall and where they don't.

But I felt like we're tough end a bit by today. My patience wore a bit thin around the turn. I was able to regroup. That chip-in was massive for par. And then we had a stoppage of play and it got a little calm for about an hour or 30, 45 minutes. And that right there from the chip-in on 10 until we got through 12 was really, really important. I was fortunate there. We had less wind for maybe -- I would say a total of two hours today we had less wind than the guys had this morning, which makes a significant difference. And fortunately we were able to take advantage of those holes and that was key.

When the conditions went a little bit down we could take advantage. And then I got up and down when necessary or saved myself out of pot bunkers, and wherever else I was when the conditions were tough.

Q. I'm not an expert lip reader, but I think on the 8th there was some pretty choice language from yourself going into a bunker. Given the conditions you're talking about, does that actually mean it makes you more fired up? Do you get the adrenaline coming up when you're facing conditions like this and even more determined to tame it and win these tournaments?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I speak American, you probably didn't understand me (laughter). I don't know what choice words are. I don't even know any.

Yeah, it's tough. When the conditions get even tougher there, I mean, when Henrik hit his second shot on No. 10 it was about as bad as we saw the entire day. No. 17 was really difficult, too. And at that moment -- when you know that's coming or you know that's happening, you just have to play clubs that are going to keep you out of three-quarter-of-a-shot penalty. Hitting into a pot bunker is anywhere from three-quarters to a full-penalty stroke. You may as well have hit it in a water hazard.

And the most important thing is when you can avoid that, where I could have hit 5-iron off the tee instead of 3, and hit 8-iron into the green and made par, but I'm trying to do too much, that's where I get really frustrated with myself and our game plan as a team. There was frustration at myself, at the conditions, at Michael. As a team, as a whole, we were in a position where we could have played a shot that was going to be safe and left a shot where I was going to hit the green on the next and make 4 at worst. And I just tried to force it up there to a wedge. And in the position we were in, that was just a force off of a bogey. And that's what I can't let happen this weekend. We've done a great job of that this week of only really making that mistake once.

Yeah, I was very frustrated there. Because it plugged, too, so I couldn't advance it up to a wedge. It was a pretty good shot just to get out of the bunker, and then it flew the green. And we were just all out of sorts, and looking like we were going to be at least 2-over on the round and moving down the board. It's frustrating when the conditions come up, too, and you're trying to -- what am I wearing, how am I staying dry? It's tough.

Q. This time last year you had really tough conditions at Troon at the same stage to the point where you got beaten up so much, you said you were going for a few beers afterwards, what did you take from that experience? Could it have toughened you up to get through this one unscathed?
JORDAN SPIETH: When we played in that afternoon on Friday I think was the worst stuff I've ever played in. I think it was No. really, 14 through 17 that day. It was just absolutely sheets of sideways rain is how I described it. And it just looked like -- it was brutal.

We didn't really experience anything like that today. I didn't think the conditions got as bad as, when I was sitting on the couch this morning, what we expected. They were very tough. I thought it was going to be like that for a lot of the round. And I thought even par was an 8-under round when I was sitting on the couch this morning. And it ended up being where you could get around today. The first five holes or so were pretty gettable. Stayed to it.

Got a little sidetracked, there, sorry --

Q. Just did you feel that experience toughened you up for this?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. I thought that was very important last year going through it. I thought that today with Michael. I actually talked to him a bit about it during the round; this isn't even how bad it was at Troon. We've got spots to play out here that we can hit greens from.

Q. A little shaky off the tee because of the weather and stuff like that. Do you need to drive the ball better?

Q. Obviously you're putting great, but in order to win this weekend do you need to drive the ball better?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. I didn't think I drove the ball incredibly well yesterday, either. It's close. It's very close. I'm playing good shots. And I've had a lot of balls go anywhere from a yard to five yards just through the fairway. I've played a lot of first cut shots. And that's going to happen out here. You've got pretty narrow fairways, and the first cut isn't too bad. And you need to play away from bunkers, which leads to some shots out of the rough. But control of the ball off the tee is going to be probably the most important statistic for me this evening.

Q. I know you said you've had more confidence after winning majors being in this position. What are your nerves like now compared to what they were two years ago in this situation tomorrow afternoon?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, right now I'm happy to be inside, first and foremost. But I feel great right now. I wouldn't expect anything different, I don't think. I don't think I even felt this way at the '15 Masters after Friday -- I don't think I felt any different. But there's a difference in how you sleep and how you get up and kind of how it hits you after.

And anytime you're in the last group on a weekend in the major, and this is, I think probably a dozen times I've had at least a share of the lead in a major championship, you get nervous. And I'll be feeling it this weekend a bit. But I enjoy it because -- as long as I approach it positively and recognise that this is what you want to feel because you're in a position you want to be in, then the easier it is to hit solid shots and to create solid rounds.

So I feel good now. There will be nerves, for sure, next couple of days but, again, control the ball off the tee, takes a lot out of it.

Q. In regards to the second shot on 15, Bones, I think used to get one veto a season with Phil. Does Michael have a veto?
JORDAN SPIETH: He does, yeah, I think I gave him two this year. He hasn't used one yet.

Q. How often do you guys disagree in that fashion? And is it usually your wanting to be more aggressive and he's more cautious?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. And that's the talks we've had off the course, is hey, I need a cautious voice out there. Because at times I'll get myself in trouble when I'm trying to force something, in positions like my tee ball on 10 today. He recognizes that I'm a little frustrated -- I hit a great shot into 9 is caught a flier. And I hit a pretty good chip that was off a bad lie, and, therefore, it ran out. I didn't miss a shot but made a bogey, and those are the times I can step up at times and make a mistake. And I did today on the very next shot.

He didn't disagree with me. He wanted to know what I was thinking on the second shot on 15. There are certainly times where he disagrees. I'm like, "Hey, I've got this one." It doesn't count as a veto. He did tell me today if he tried to pull driver on 5 he was going to use one of his vetoes.

But he was just asking what I was thinking. I said, look, I hit this cut out of the rough here, as long as it's not in that left bunker, greenside, anywhere else is an easier opportunity to make birdie than being 60 yards off from the green. The closer to the hole I thought the better. He said, "This is your feel," is what he said.

Q. You've been on teams with Kuchar, how tough do you think he's going to be to beat this weekend?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, he's in form, and I think he finished top five last week at the Scottish, right? So he's in form on links golf. More recent experience of how much a ball is getting moved in the wind, I think we have a pretty good idea by this point.

Kooch is tough because he's so consistent. Kooch is tough because he's not out on many holes. He's not in tough position. He knows how to play his games. He knows his strengths. He knows his weaknesses, and he knows how to play away from them. I watched a bit of the coverage this morning, he was making a couple long putts. He chipped in for par -- chipped in for birdie on No. 3 when he was out of position. The kind of stuff that gets you up the leaderboard in the first couple of days. And you don't know if that kind of stuff is it going to happen the last couple, but it will be fun.

I enjoy playing with Kooch. He's been in my pod both Ryder Cups. So we've played some rounds, preparing to be on teams together, when certainly I've stuck with Patrick, he's been with a few different guys, anyone from Tiger to DJ to Furyk. So it will be a fun setting. John Woods, a good friend of ours, really good friend of Michael's, so we'll try and have a lot of fun tomorrow and see if we can't push each other to get the same pairing the next day.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Jordan, thank you.

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