|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 26, 2017
Old Westbury, New York
ALEX URBAN: We'd like to welcome our 54-hole leader, Jordan Spieth, into the interview room here at The Northern Trust.
Jordan, very impressive 66 today. This is the 15th time you've held a 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR. Talk about your play through three rounds and heading into the last day.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I feel, you know, I've been striking the ball really well this week. The first day I probably hit it the best of any of them but just didn't make anything. The.
Putter started to heat up second half of yesterday's round, and I kind of just created my own confidence off of couple putts yesterday that has led into the last 27 holes or so being some of the best golf that I played.
I feel good about where things are at. This golf course, though, I saw it with Rickie today and I saw it with Justin and Hideki the other days, there's a lot of -- you know, there's a lot of bogey, birdie, two-, three-shot swings on holes out here because if you're in the fairway, a lot of them become birdie holes versus in the rough they become really difficult pars.
So anything can happen tomorrow. I expect some swings but if we stay focused on a goal, keep playing the way we're playing, then should be fine.
Q. Your last two wins have come when all hell broke loose at The Open Championship and the Travelers. Obviously this is far from over, but would you like a calm stroll down the last few holes tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think so. I think that's what anyone would prefer. I don't expect it, though. I've got DJ within three and, what, Rahm, who else is it, Paul Casey, some guys who have been playing extremely well this whole year. So you expect them to shoot 4- or 5-under rounds; and therefore, I need to go out and do what we've been doing.
Obviously, you know, it was a bonus to grab -- to get to 5- and 6-under the last couple days with a couple extra-made putts that you don't necessarily expecting to in.
But you know, a few under tomorrow is probably going to be the goal.
Q. Speaking of the Travelers, and the British, when you are able to overcome those kind of things, how much has that steeled your confidence when you are in positions like this?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, more than -- I say, more than I would like. It's not really fair to say that. But yeah, the way I've kind of been able to turn it.
You look at the British being a perfect example of -- you know, at Travelers, I never turned it around with the putter. It was not good through the end. I just holed a bunker shot; thank God I didn't have to putt.
And then the British, being able to turn it around off of what looked like, you know, a crazy stretch with a 6-footer and a 4-footer and all of a sudden I felt like I was back to putting the way I should.
I was telling Michael before the round today, you know, I wish -- I wish it was a lot more neutral with my putting. But the fact that I'm able to flip that switch mentally more -- obviously physically, but to flip it mentally is advantageous. It's certainly an advantage I feel I have; that I can do.
But you know, I need to hold steady. I've still missed, you know, some putts inside of five week this week, quite a few of them, and on afternoon poa annua, it's likely to happen again. Stay patient and the more greens in regulation, the better.
Q. Was there a moment yesterday when that switch did flip; that you could feel it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it was really, you know, honestly, No. 9. I had a pretty simple birdie putt that I left short and it dove across the hole. I went over to Michael and I just made a par save on 8 to not go over par for the tournament -- or back to even, I guess, for the tournament.
And I made that putt, and I missed the one on 9 and I said, "You know what, everything feels good now. I feel great about it. I just haven't hit them hard enough on this front nine. I just need to dial in the speed."
And I had a perfect putt on 10 to dial in the speed on, and hit a great putt that I then felt like I got that part down and from there, you know, I started to fill it up.
Q. What you said a minute ago about putts that you don't expect to in, when do you not expect them to go in? Which ones do you expect to go in?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I can see the lines for them to go in. But what I mean is, when I'm hitting a putt where -- I don't know what the distance is, or it's not even necessarily a distance. It's a type of putt. I could have six feet and if I miss it, it's okay, because the putt, I had to play two feet outside the hole and I know that's a 30-percenter.
I kind of recognize based on how much I've practiced different putts and what I should -- what I should expect and how I should approach some of these putts. Out here on the PGA TOUR, and especially on greens like these, greens like we had at Quail Hollow, you can have six feet and be okay with it missing if you hit a decent putt where you're looking. It was just a bit off. It all depends, to answer your question.
Q. Did you make one on 9 --
JORDAN SPIETH: Today? Yeah, unfortunately. Yeah, it wasn't -- it was tricky because I thought it was about right edge, but it dove off more and it had speed. I knew it was really fast, and had I been in the mind-set not coming off two birdies, thinking, you know, I can't miss ever again, which was kind of the way I was feeling, then I would have hit it with the right speed, which has a better chance to go in and would have saved me at least a shot.
But yeah, I expected that one to go in. Probably shouldn't have. It was on a 2 1/2 degree slope and had greens that are at 12.
Q. 30 percent?
JORDAN SPIETH: That was more than 30 but still, should have -- should have dialed it back a little.
Q. You referenced earlier about creating confidence, and that's that 9, 10 stretch yesterday you just talked about. Have you ever gone through something like that, allowed it to click like that before? Can you give us an example where you've created that confidence?
JORDAN SPIETH: The British is a perfect example, right off of, I made a putt on 13 and went to 14 and had a putt outside right from about four or five feet to get back to all-square, and those are about as nerve-wracking of putts as I've hit and to knock them both in, I've flipped the script like, hey, I'm hitting my line, even when I'm feeling this nervous; so when you get a longer putt, obviously the expectation goes down on making it, and so the nerves go down because you're just trying to hit it with the right speed, and I just got a nice, fluid motion on the next two putts. That was a perfect example.
But before that, you know, it happens in stretches here and there. And you know, this year, my overall putting statistics are down from the last two, but the last two years, I was top three or five in the world.
So you know, I'm not going to be able to -- you can't necessarily maintain that your entire career, and to be able to get the job done by doing it a different way, is what's so positive about this year for me.
Q. Did you expect to make that 21-footer at 18?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I didn't expect to make it. That one was -- that's a really hard putt. But I was very pleased with the putt I hit. About halfway, I thought, this is going to dive and drip right in, though. And then it stopped.
Q. I wanted to ask you why it was important to you to stick around till the end of the PGA and be there in case Justin won.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I had a few friends in it, which is cool. But J.T.'s been there for me. I've been there for him. I wasn't there for Rick when he won; I didn't play. But J.T. was there.
You know, it's just kind of -- we've built a close relationship and we root for each other so hard. It was really tough. You know, Rick had such an off day today, when he's been playing so well. So it's tough. I want him -- he's making putts; I'm cheering his on as much as I'm cheering mine on. You just want to be the one that makes it one more at the end, right.
So to see somebody work so hard and that tournament, the PGA means so much, obviously to him and his family and the history that he comes from, a few generations of PGA pros and winning his first major; I just selfishly wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be there for it. But also, unselfishly, wanted to offer congrats to him and everything that -- all the hard work he's put in to be in that moment.
Q. When you're rolling in 20-footers, obviously putts a lot of emphasis and people pay attention to your putting, but over the course of the season, you've improved your ball-striking a lot. Statistically you've become one of the elite players with your irons. Was that a main goal heading into the season, and you talked about a moment where everything fell into place with your putting here. Was there a time this year where all of the work you were putting in with Cameron off the course clicked where the ball-striking fell into place?
JORDAN SPIETH: This year versus other years, every time I've gotten a little bit off in my swing, it's been the same thing. So every feeling that I've had pretty much throughout the year has been the exact same backswing feeling.
So versus, you maybe, maybe the first couple months of the year, I'm trying to kind of knock in one feeling and then I'd overdo it and then I've got to try and feel a different feeling. I really feel like it's been very consistent off the ball for me and what I'm trying to do, and that makes it more consistent.
The fact that I need to work on the same thing makes it a little easier for me to do that move the more times I do it, right. Practice makes perfect, and I kind of start to dial it in with my backswing feeling.
Earlier in the season, the first couple weeks, I hit the ball beautifully with Sony. I played with Justin and my tee-to-green, strokes gained, my proximity was well inside his and he shot 59 that day and I shot 68. I've been striking it really well going back to there, and it was just off-season work we put in.
Q. And that was conscious, going into 2017 --
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. Driving the ball is going to continue to be something that I'd like to improve on. Look at the Top-20 players in the world, and most of them are ahead of me in driving statistics. But ball-striking-wise, it was a tremendous improvement this year, and that frees you up off the tee to not feel like you have to do too much.
I haven't had -- recently, obviously, I've had a chance to win now three out of my last five events. Had a real opportunity to win the last round. But before that, you know, just haven't had as many opportunities as past years just because of, really, the putting, and I've improved this ball-striking.
But often times when you work so hard on something, you put more time in, you put a little less time somewhere else. I'm kind of finding a nice middle ground right now.
Q. I'm going to ask you to go out of body a bit. Nine out of the last ten we've talked about you've gotten done, if you were the guy chasing you, rather than me ask you what they think, would you be steeled by the fact of what happened at the British in that you gave an opportunity to people, or, would you be like, man, that guy is so tough, how am I going to get him?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'd expect anything. I've kind of shown that anything can happen (laughing) unfortunately and fortunately.
Yeah, I don't think DJ is really worried about much. We've battled it out quite a few times. He'll step up and just do his thing. I don't think he's going to think much about me, other than -- other than where he's at, you know, as we get down the stretch.
But anybody else, you know, I don't know. Yeah, I imagine it's not like guys that were chasing Tiger where you almost felt hopeless and you can try and do all you can. But because I've shown that, you know, that things can get a little off and have to get back on track.
But I've also had cruises. I mean, Pebble Beach was an absolute cruise. It was a bogey-free 2-under round when I had a lead by a significant margin, and I think the longest par putt I had was three feet that day. So that's what I would obviously like tomorrow. But Pebble is an easier golf course than this in my opinion.
I don't know what they should think.
Q. Does your confidence ever get high enough that you feel unbeatable?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. I don't think I would allow it to. I think that's when I get in a little bit of trouble is when I try and do too much, and if you're trying to do too much, you kind of think you're a little invincible and nothing can hurt you.
Today was a great example, as I played the last five holes, of hitting to the right spots; I didn't try and hit it to a foot on 14. I played it a little left of the hole and made birdie.
15, I hit it left of the hole, where I have an opportunity to make two, I'm going to make three at worst; birdie.
16, left of the hole, right, with a wedge.
And then 17, hit a really solid 5-iron right; then 18. I was just committed to these targets coming in that allowed it to be very, very easy for me to not only score, but feel good as I was walking up.
Q. On the front nine, you made quite a few birdies from the bunkers. How were you able to pull that off, and being able to do that, does that give you anymore momentum going through the round?
JORDAN SPIETH: Feeling good out of fairway bunkers is actually important I think for me when it comes to how I feel on the tee. When I stand on a tee box, I'm like, okay, if I hit it in the fairway bunker, it's really not that bad in that sand, as long as it creeps in.
I hit a couple really nice shots today. The one I hit on 8 was a very tough shot. That was on the downslope and I had to kind of rise it and it was going straight uphill.
That's a tough one to strike well. But the other, I think 5 was maybe the only other one I had. 3 was plugged in the bunker. That was an awesome bunker shot.
But fairway bunker, you know, 5 was a pretty standard shot.
Q. You talked about the difficulty of this place and it's more difficult than Pebble Beach. What makes this so hard, this course?
JORDAN SPIETH: The rough I think. Just how thick it is. We're just not quite used to -- this isn't a normal week for us with the type of rough and how thick it is. You miss the fairway and you walk over, and if it's downgrain, you have got a chance to hit it onto the green; and if it's into the grain, you're essentially playing to run it up 20 yards short.
I think mainly just the rough. And then the pitch on the greens, which makes them very speedy.
Q. What do you think has to happen tomorrow to make it as boring as Pebble Beach was on Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think a front nine like today. You know, once you get to the back nine -- if I can shoot a couple under on the front nine, it will be -- I think it's a difficult nine for somebody to go 4- or 5-under on, no matter how hot they are. And then you get to a bunch of wedge holes and you can start really controlling -- controlling your score from there.
Q. What's your comfort level with DJ and have you lobbied Stricker at all to play with him?
JORDAN SPIETH: Strick's asked all of us who we want to play with and most everybody said, "I'll play with anyone."
I've played with DJ before. It's a lot of fun playing from DJ's shots. I love playing alternate-shot with DJ (laughter). It was one of the most fun golf experiences I've had because it was a lot easier than where I put him in Korea there.
But yeah, I would certainly obviously be open. What's my comfort level with DJ? As high as anybody. I very much respect him. We have a really good relationship, and we've played quite a bit of golf with each other, and we understand each other's games.
I mean, I'm not going to call this like I did before, but I mean, I'm pretty sure I was the one who said in 2015 or whatever, 2016, watch out for DJ, it's just a matter of time. Once he wins one, it opens up the floodgates, and look what happened. He got over that, and he doesn't -- he's playing free. He's really improve his short iron and wedge play game. He's always been a great putter of the ball and obviously tee-to-green, he's as good as anybody.
Dialing in that wedge play and being able to hit a bunch of different shots has created the No. 1 player in the word out of him.
ALEX URBAN: Appreciate your time and best of luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports