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September 13, 2017
AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome FedExCup leader Jordan Spieth to the Interview Boom here at the BMW Championship.
Jordan, two runners up to start the Playoffs. After a week off, how do you access your play so far?
JORDAN SPIETH: Very excited. The goal was to try and improve each week through the Playoffs to obviously peak next week.
So I'm in a great position, looking to obviously stay in the No. 1 spot, that's my best chance to win the FedExCup starting in Atlanta and been through this process before which is nice, we've got a routine we like to go through and know how to kind of conserve energy. These last couple weeks and FedExCup is a tremendous accomplishment and achievement and something I'm certainly striving for.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: You played twice at Conway Farms before. What do you think of the course here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I like it a lot. It's a little quirky but I think in a good way. Provides a lot of excitement. Really two pins on every green where you can really attack and two where you kind of got to watch out just with the green structures.
I've played it when it's been soft and a 59 and unbelievable scoring, and then right now it seems to be a little firm. It's actually quite a bit different of a golf course but it's in phenomenal shape. I like coming here. It really is a fun week and they do a tremendous job hosting us here.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'll start questions.
Q. Have you ever been, in all your days of golf, finished runner-up in three consecutive tournaments and is that a good thing or bad thing?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think I have and on the PGA TOUR I can't call it a bad thing. I don't think so but if I finish runner-up this week unless one of two other people won, I will have accomplished the goal of being No. 1 going into East Lake.
So, again, if I finish 1st and 2nd the next two weeks it's pretty obviously I'll be happy to finish my third consecutive 2nd this week.
I'm looking to play well. I took a few days off and, again, it goes back to trying to maintain strength and there's been times I've shot 81 at East Lake and I shot 65 probably at East Lake and it just -- obviously it's how you're playing but there were certainly years, two of the four years I played East Lake I was certainly tired out by the time I reached there in '14 and '16.
So, it's a matter of conserving as much energy as possible, limit the reps on the range and really focus on the short game and next week approach it like a Major.
Q. Along those lines, being in a position you're in, is it hard to get terribly motivated about this one knowing no matter what you do it doesn't matter except for what you do next week?
JORDAN SPIETH: In the position I'm in now -- that certainly is a good question because I'm guaranteed into the Top-5, essentially. So I will control my own destiny next week.
I don't find it difficult. I was kind of struggling a little with that in New York going into New York, finding motivation off just the major season and the grind, the Open Championship and just a lot that happened for me late in the summer, really a nice peak for me in the season.
I got out there and didn't get off to a great start, and I was frustrated with that, especially my putting. I worked really hard to make that a good week.
These Playoffs, if you're in a very good position going in and you feel like you're playing well, the first three can kind of seem a little more difficult because you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You know that East Lake is what really matters and the way these points work, right?
The way it used to be if you could win the FedExCup before going to East Lake like Vijay did that one year it's a totally different scenario in the first three events.
When everything gets knocked back down anyways, you're playing a PGA TOUR event while focused on the next one which is different than the rest of the season where you're focused on that event where you're at.
There's just such a bigger prize at the end that certainly has most of our minds, the guys in the top, you know, five, ten of the FedExCup.
So, I'm motivated to stay where I am and I've got two guys that I'm playing with that are very, very close on my heels because No. 1 is a huge difference from No. 3 as you go into East Lake for the scenarios to win.
No trouble finding motivation this week because of the way these guys have been playing and how close we are.
Q. Jordan, to that end, if you could, is there anything you would change about the FedExCup? I mean it sounds like you have some plots there along the lines about --
JORDAN SPIETH: No. We went from five times to four times and adjustment in the final. You know, the promotion of the FedExCup is a season long race when it has essentially come down who wins East Lake. You know, kind of counter each other a little bit.
We've seen the winners of the FedExCup actually be guys who have been Player Of The Year candidates the past -- well, since the inception of the FedExCup.
So, when you look at it that way, no, not exactly. I don't really have much to change. I don't really have much of anything to change in it because if someone has already won the FedExCup that takes everything out of East Lake and, sure, that would be pretty nice if all you had to do was wake up to your alarm and get a -- hire a police escort to make sure you get to the course to tee off and finish for a $10 million bonus, which is exactly what I would do (laughter), but, the fact that you got to play to add that excitement to Sunday.
Look at last year, Rory in a playoff with Ryan Moore where Ryan wins, DJ wins, someone sitting on their couch, Dustin Johnson is sitting on the couch watching saying there's a $7 million difference in who wins this playoff and I can't control it.
It's an added excitement to our sport that we just don't see. I certainly understand and have been on the good -- I've been on the good end of it. Haven't had many close calls on the bad end.
But, boy, it really is an exciting week next week. All these Playoffs events, the huge jumps, the guys working their way.
There's so much at stake making the Tour Championship. You get into all the Majors, you get into every event. People are really running.
Q. One of the guys who is chasing you, what has Justin done this year to really unlock the kind of season that he's had?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think he expects himself to close it out and that's kind of when you look at somebody who finds almost ease in closing or under the highest pressure still performs the shots that he's performing to get to that position that week, that's when you start to see somebody who expects it out of himself and is frustrated when you don't versus somebody who hey, I had a good -- I had a chance but I didn't quite pull it off and it was still a really good week.
He would have been just like I was, frustrated at the end of the last couple weeks that I wasn't the one with -- I was the bridesmaid.
It's just one of those -- I feel that way about myself, right? You get yourself in position enough and you taste success enough you want to keep having it and he's, this year, gone from somebody who had a won at CIMB and taking into two events in a row and winning three out of four events he played in which is absurd, 75 percent in four events is ridiculous.
That's what he was able to do. He took that confidence into a Major championship and made it look pretty easy, too.
Q. And when are the two of you going to start behaving like proper, bitter rivals?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably never.
Q. How do you balance the competitive instincts you have with the friendship you have?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's no different, right? We're friend off the golf course. When we're on the golf course we're still friends but playing against each other.
It's not like we played on the same team when we were 14. We were always playing against each others. Our schools matched against each other in college, AJGA events in high school and professionally.
So, I'm not -- I promise you when we're out there and he's got a 6-footer to win the tournament and I'm standing right there on the green, I'm not rooting for him to make it, you know. I'm rooting for him to miss it so we can go to a playoff and I can beat him. That's just how it works as a competitor.
When you aren't the one that pulls it off and one of the people that you're very close to can, then it's cool, really cool for us. The highest stage at what we do for a living.
Q. Obviously you had a great year. I was wondering regardless of the results, could you sort of analyze your play, just how you played this year, were you happy with it, was it better than past years and did you feel like you improved as a golfer this year at all?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. If I have the year I had this year the next 15 years then I'll be the greatest player that ever played the game if you judge it by Major Championships. I mean it's that simple.
Q. I was talking about the actual golf, how you hit the ball and putt and all that.
JORDAN SPIETH: Statistically I think it was a fantastic year. I'd actually call it 2015 was incredible because of the results but this year I would say I'm even more optimistic looking forward than I was in '15, just given I know that my putter is really the strength of my game. But this year it wasn't and we were able to have kind of the success we had.
Ball-striking-wise I really feel like I did things in my swing I learned from -- kind of tendencies I had at least dial them in a little bit to where I didn't see those tendencies come up as often.
I'm really optimistic about that going forward because I don't feel like this was just a really good ball-striking year and the others was the norm.
Each year I was progressing towards what this year is and I think that's going to continue to improve for me and that's what's really exciting.
And then if I get some more putts to go in at certain times, then we're really in business and we're back to the results of a couple years ago or this year.
So, to answer your question, no matter what happens, if I finish last the next two weeks, it's an extremely positive year that I'm as optimistic as any going forward.
Q. Couple things Jordan. I assume you like East Lake.
JORDAN SPIETH: I do, yeah.
Q. What is it about that golf course you like and do you like the fact that you end on a par 5 now instead of a par 3?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm sorry?
Q. Do you like the fact the tournament ends on a par 5 instead of a par 3?
JORDAN SPIETH: It was nice ending on a par 3 with a big lead with no water on the par 3 in 2015. But, yes, I think the last six holes now become -- there's more that can happen than on what's 4 through 9 now.
What do I like about East Lake? East Lake and Augusta remind me a lot of each other. You have a really well designed golf course where the fairways slope against the ball flight that you need off the tee and then the greens remind me of each other with the slope, the speed and the bunkering around them.
East Lake has a lot more rough which is very different from Augusta and the greens aren't quite as severe, fast but I just like the layout of it.
I like the shots that it makes you play off the tee and things into the green you can be bold or you can play safe but with the green shapes when you play safe you're left with a tough two-putt.
So, it's a very much a risk/reward type golf course, kind of sneaks up on you on risk/reward. The excitement from 5 really -- well, the old No. 5, which is now 14 playing such a massive role in the finish of a tournament on probably the hardest par 3 we play all year given when it is now and what tournament it's at, it's certainly adds a lot to it with No. 9 -- or 18 as well.
Q. You've now thrown first pitches out at Wrigley, Fenway and Arlington. What is it like to do that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I hit the 3 bucket listers for me there. I'm done now. Fenway and Wrigley just growing up and hearing about the history -- just being a baseball fan and just knowing they're the most historic ballparks along with the old Yankee Stadium.
It's really cool. It's awesome. It's an honor to go out there. People wonder how you can be where -- wear the jerseys of all three teams. It's great when they reach out and ask to go do it.
It's a tremendous opportunity and get to hang out with some baseball players I'm huge fans of. Last night I got to hang out with some of the Cubs guys, the heroes of Chicago from what they did last year winning the World Series.
After watching that, getting to meet those guys, it was an incredible experience for sure.
Q. How much pressure did you feel?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was actually talking with a couple of the guys about that. They stand on the tee box even if there's ten people out there watching and these baseball guys are nervous hitting a tee shot the same way for me out there.
I'm like, "Man, the only way you end up on ESPN if you really screw this one up" (laughter). So, I just -- I kind of bailed a little, threw it a little high but definitely was nervous walking out there.
Q. Jordan, when you reflect on how much your career has advanced over the last several years, I was wondering two things, one, what was the best piece of a advice an experienced player gave you to help you get to where you are and, secondly, what advice would you give some of the younger players to try to bring their game up to the next level?
JORDAN SPIETH: That's tough. I've had a lot of -- been very fortunate to have a lot of older players on Tour really offer a lot of great wisdom that has helped me but if I had to pick one that I can think of right now, it was probably make sure you're really focused on your rest and recovery.
That would have been from -- actually that would have been a pretty common theme with a lot of the older players, wear and tear on your body.
The golf swing is very unnatural for your body. You see guys get hurt in their back, hips, whatever it may be. Rest and recovery is way more important than anything else for an entire season and I think that's probably what I would offer somebody else as well because you come out and just expect now you don't have to go to school -- I say -- you're not in school, sorry, that's not phrased the right way for kids but you're not in school, you're not having something else that's taking over at least half your day and it's a very big change to go from playing maybe 10 events to 15 events a year to 25 to 30 with a full grind of doing it everyday all day, and you've got to try and find the right balance, what's best for you and for some people it's practicing more than others and that would be the advice I'd offer others is this week, although it's big, think about how you have the rest of the season.
You got ten more events and I know the feeling of really wearing yourself out and not doing it correctly. You have to try and error it. Rest and recovery is probably the most important thing that I received and what I would tell will somebody else.
Q. Do you even know any younger players on Tour?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know any?
Q. Players on Tour.
A Yeah. I was just in the gym with Si Woo, he's younger. I think Grayson Murray is younger than me. There's not many.
JORDAN SPIETH: Ollie is older. I'm pretty sure Ollie is older. He was in my class. But younger class, yes, Si Woo, Grayson Murray. Not many. I'm sure the question was in ten years would what would I tell somebody.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: Last couple questions.
Q. Jordan, the BMW Championship kind of moves around a little bit. Last year it was in Indy, next year it's in Philly, when it comes back to Chicago it goes to another golf course.
Does it matter that it moves around so much or should those events have maybe more permanent regular homes?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's done very well with -- we've got one that moves around, one that's constant, this one moves around and kind of moves around, this is the third time being here in five years and then East Lake is a really good tournament to have at one course.
So, I like it the way it is. We get to play some fantastic golf courses all over the country. We went to Denver, to Indianapolis, going to go to Philly and move around here. In Chicago golf is maybe the mecca of golf as far as the Big City goes. There's dozens of golf courses here that are incredible tracts.
Q. Have you played Medinah before?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've not played Medinah. I say there's dozens of golf courses. I've only played a few of them. Certainly yearning to play more.
Q. You prepare any differently for a week where you know the scores are going to be low versus an event where the winning score is closer to par?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think your mindset going into it, yeah, sure, you play a little more aggressive off the tee. I'm unsure about this week. I imagine it will still be low just given -- there are feeder pins but it's going to firm up and you're coming out of this rough into these greens and they're firming up where it's going to be hard to hold them.
I don't see a 20-something under. I see something like 14 but I only played 9 holes yesterday. It's kind of hard to tell. That's pretty average for us. 14-under par is a -- I would say the average winning score, 14, 15, on the PGA TOUR.
This week in particular you just kind of get out there and try and figure out where everyone is at and how it's playing through the middle of that first round.
Yes, when you look at a U.S. Open or you go to the John Deere as two different examples, the approach is totally different and it starts off the tee.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: All right. Jordan thank you so much for your time. Good luck this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports