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February 7, 2018

Jordan Spieth

Pebble Beach, California

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome the defending champion, Jordan Spieth, to the interview room. He's making his sixth start here at At&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Having won here last year, that's one of three top-10 finishes at this event.

Jordan, welcome back. If we can get some thoughts on defending this week.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, this is a beautiful place to come back to. We're obviously going to be blessed with the weather this week. Last year was a little bit different, but boy it's going to be something special. We're going to see a few firm golf courses which is going to be a change. That will be a lot different from last year. But really exciting in itself. It will actually be a pretty, not quite U.S. Open-like test, but somewhat similar conditions at Pebble Beach, which will be a neat experience for all of us.

JOHN BUSH: I know winning the AT&T meant a lot to you. Your bobble head collection is growing. Comment on your thoughts on this year's edition.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, the addition of a trophy is nice. But, yeah, this is, this event was special, obviously. This event and the Byron Nelson, being sponsored by AT&T, a partner of mine for a number of years now and a number of years to come. Obviously, that's, that bodes well for the both of us.

So it was a special week. It was nice to be able to share the moment on the 18th green with some of my -- Randall and AT&T, who has believed in me for a number of years. So kind of just being able to share in that moment was special for the both of us.

JOHN BUSH: Open it up for questions.

Q. Five years ago it was a special week as well at Pebble Beach, your first check on the PGA TOUR. What are your memories from 2013 and the impact it's had to where you are now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I remember I -- I remember I was on sponsor's exemption, so I needed to -- and at the time it wasn't FedExCup points, I think it was like $650,000 I had to make in seven plus starts, depending on top-10s and such. I had like a 4-footer I missed on 18 for birdie and in the scorer's tent, they always have the sheet that says what place it is and what the payout is. And I think I got T-22 and it was something around $65,000 or something and I looked at -- and all I cared about was if I made the 4-footer what it would have been, because I thought that was going to be a significant putt in me being able to get status that year. I just had confidence that through that, through seven starts I would have an opportunity to get close or to actually get my card, at worst case make it to the finals. And I just remember kind of being pretty bummed at the time. And then as I sat back over the next week I was like, that's cool, that was -- the first check was at this event, at Pebble Beach, and I thought that was pretty special. At the time it was just like, the way that probably we all think when we miss a putt on the 18th hole, what could have been. But, yeah, I mean when I look back and think that this event was my first professional check, that's very special.

Q. What was the difference?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it was something like 20, 25 thousand dollars.

Q. Chump change now, isn't it?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. It's never chump change. But I will tell you that at the time I thought that would make a difference.

Q. Is there anything, kind of the Majors aside, all wins are great, but what adds extra value to a regular TOUR win? The list of champions, the venue, does anything make it more special than an ordinary win?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think a combination of the two that you just mentioned. The list of champions is something that we are all interested in. But I think more importantly the venues, the history of the venues. I guess the history of the venues is either they have hosted a number of Major Championships or the golf course is just that prestigious, but it also ties in with the list of champions. So I look at certain golf courses as, yeah, the list of venues is something that makes -- if it were a regular TOUR event, very much more significant. The now Northern Trust and it's, and if it's at Bethpage, it probably, it sits there and means more to somebody than a course that it maybe goes through a rotation with. So that's a better example of what difference it can make for us.

Q. Do you have to approach this event any differently to a regular TOUR event, just given the unique format and playing alongside amateurs?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, you have to, obviously, for a couple reasons, show a bit more patience. The rounds are slower. This year it's going to be a little different because the weather's so good and the course is playing firmer, I think it will move quicker than obviously last year when we were walking with umbrellas like this (Indicating) the first day. But yeah, you have to be a little bit more patient. But you also have to be very patient on the greens here because there's more traffic. And last year was the first year where I lowered my expectations on the greens and just accepted hitting putts at the right speed and putting them around the right line, and if they fell, they fell. If they didn't, move on and hit as many greens in regulation as possible. I was striking the ball so well last year at this event that I had one good putting day and the other three were kind of average and that was good enough to get a win. So that was big as I go forward in this event. Because I think it was two years ago or three years ago I was leading through the first two events and I 3-putted Pebble like five or seven times on Saturday, just trying to will birdies in and not giving the golf course the credit that it needs. And the greens, with the amount of slope and the type of grass it is with traffic, this poa annua, you just have to be careful and try and leave yourself with the easiest second putts a lot of times if you're outside 10 feet.

Q. What have you worked on specifically with the putter the last few days and what goes through your head when you look at the strokes gained putting rankings right now and see your name toward the bottom?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, what goes through my head is I still believe that most of the guys that sit on this stage right here, you ask them who do they want putting on your team in a Ryder Cup, and I believe they would say my name. So I have no doubt in my abilities. Just going through just a minor slump that is just setup related. I'm just trying to get back and I got a little on top of it and I was kind of hitting the ball into the ground with a -- with my hands pretty far forward, which is a very, it's opposite of what my natural tendency has been going back to when I was eight years old. So I just kind of got into a place that I hadn't been before and I just got to kind of get back into a comfortable setup position and then everything will fall through from there. The idea is just to stop thinking and just putt and not having to worry about things. But that's not the reality for a little while going forward here until I get to where when I set up over the putter I'm seeing my lines and I'm setup towards those lines.

Q. Would you please share a couple stories of your involvement in the Spieth 40 course and what that means to the Texas team.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's something I'm very interested in doing later on in life, is golf course design. I just, I enjoy, I enjoyed the process of the Spieth 40 very much. I was able to work with Roy Bechtol down there, the designer of UT Golf Club, in a pretty unique space to be able to build kind of a wedge facility. It turned into a par-3 course, but the idea is that it is a wedge facility. You can go from different areas to different greens, you don't have to play it as a six hole par-3 course. But I wanted it to be challenging but very productive for the team. And unique. Something that other facilities don't have. So I was -- I mean I was involved with the initial designs, but then I was able to go down to Austin and step on the greens and make adjustments as before they were sodded as we could still shape them. Honestly, I made it easier when I went down there. Because some of the areas you were going to hit shots with certain winds -- it was going to be a really difficult little par-3 course, but I kind of really wanted the emphasis to go to solid practice for the team, and therefore creating three or four different pin positions on all these greens that you have to kind of miss it in one spot, you've got to work a different ball flight. Some you have to bring it in low, some float it up in the air and spin it. Just create all these different shots that we normally see on TOUR that you just don't see in practice facilities. I think it came out really, really well. From all the pictures and all the feed back that has gotten back to me, it's been great. I haven't had a chance to see it myself and play it yet, but I'm -- hopefully before we even get to Austin, I'll be able to get down there.

Q. Two questions. I'm going to assume that most players at this level are always, I don't know if tinkering with something, but making slight adjustments here and there. I would be curious what's longest stretch you went of just like maintenance golf, just showing up at a tournament, warming up, playing, whatever.
JORDAN SPIETH: Not very long. Yeah, honestly, there's -- and the weird part about this, what I was talking about with the putting, is I've never really had to work on much. I haven't really had to worry about the setup or anything like that. It's been about just minor adjustments in the stroke here or there that are triggers that just help me kind of stay fluid throughout the stroke. But I'm always, I've always historically have been tinkering with the swing. And something -- that just trying to get a good compact feeling in the swing, and then it's just kind of shifted a little the other way right now, which is just a little bit abnormal for me, that is a kind of a fun challenge, to work on it to get it back. But to be able to just say everything's on, go to the course and it's normally maybe a couple days at a time.

Q. Oh, that long.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I mean like when really things are starting to flow really well, you play Thursday, Friday and you're up near the top of the leaderboard, and you feel like things have been falling into place now, that's when you kind of go out there and you assume that you don't really need to work on -- because what happens with us as players is we work on things and then we get to where we overdo them, and then we have got to kind of bring it back. So if you can try and find that middle ground where everything's in place and you can just go out and work on ball flights and speed control, yeah, that's normally only a couple days. Sometimes a week at a time. And those are the best weeks.

Q. Secondly, when you were asked, or reminded I guess, of your first paycheck on TOUR, you started five years ago you started counting off on your hand. Why?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a little early for my math and I was thinking this is my sixth event here, so I was -- but that would make that five years ago.

Q. What's your best Jake Owen story? And I'm just sort of curious the conversation and the mindset between shots here must be so different than a regular TOUR event, and you guys obviously have a rapport. Can you share an anecdote that maybe illustrates how different this is?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, you know, we'll be -- Sunday was a little different last year because Jake was pretty, like, he didn't really know how to approach me that day. Should he still be joking with me or should he stay out of the way or whatever. But like Saturday, I'm starting to work my way up or head into the lead and I would tee off on whatever it is, maybe like 14, the par-5, and I'm in just this I'm in a groove, I'm playing really well, five -- or 5-under or so at the time and I'm leading the golf tournament, so on a Saturday. So your blood's going, the adrenaline's rushing and I'm looking over a Jake's like grabbing two beers off of some lady over to the side that's at a party and he's bringing it back to the tee and giving one to his caddie and drinking one while he tees off. And I'm like, man, that this isn't just a normal golf tournament, is it? I mean he's a great player, he's been a lot of fun as a partner, he's very, knows when that's the right time, when to be kind of funny and he knows when the time to back off is. And it's been, I think, advantageous for me to have Jake as a partner here, selfishly, because of kind of his personality and his caliber of player. So, yeah, we're excited for another one this year. It's tough for us to win because he's only getting two pops. And he's a good player, but you kind of need a sandbagger in order to win this thing as a team, so -- and he keeps losing strokes when we make cuts, so.

Q. Did he offer you a beer?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I mean he probably did as a joke and that's just kind of like -- it lightens you up a bit. And I keep talking to him and then all of a sudden I get up and hit the shot. You're not over-thinking things, you're just stepping into it and playing Pebble Beach.

Q. In keeping it light, just kind of a fun one, as it's right in front of you. When it comes to likenesses, how does that bobble head stack up maybe against other likenesses?
JORDAN SPIETH: Other bobble heads or?

Q. Yeah, other bobble heads.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, um, it's, this one's cool. This one incorporates the bag. We were going to throw Michael in on it and then he didn't really like the idea, so he thought he would get made fun of by his friends. But this one's really cool. This is such a unique trophy and to be able to kind of have this here, it just reminds me of a pretty special time. The 18th green last year here was one of a few moments that are up there at the top of mine in golf and so it's cool to see. This will be going out to I think the first 5,000 fans tomorrow that are coming, which is -- it's fun to kind of see kids bring them up and ask to get them signed and I'm like where do you sign the thing? But end up going on the bottom. But yeah, it's pretty amazing after going to baseball games growing up on bobble head night and whatever to have one and now a few of my own, it's kind of bizarre.

Q. How much Ryder Cup chatter are you hearing at this point in the season?
JORDAN SPIETH: None. I haven't heard any, to be honest. Other than every time I see Patrick Reed, he shows me his new baby in a Captain America onesie.

Q. That counts.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, that's, I mean but that's just another Tuesday.

Q. Do you think there will be a point in the season later on as the team's starting to take shape a little bit more where it might affect your practice rounds, you'll try and bring some new guys in to play with you or things like that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure. Yeah. I think that -- in the past years our captains and assistant captains of the different team events have done a great job in getting guys in a group text, guys that are probably going to be on the team and even guys that are around the bubble, and getting dinners together and just trying to maneuver different practice rounds. Get two-on-two kind of matches going on a Tuesday. We start to do that, but it's not anything like late July before I remember playing anything where we were thinking or talking about any of the team events. But, yeah, it will certainly start to happen towards the end of the year. Don't really believe in chatter of the Ryder Cup. They still have a much better record going back the last 25, 30 years, so we go into a way game where I think we won, what, once in the last 30 years? Is that even right? Once in 25 years. So it's no easy task. We're obviously excited about the last couple team events and this kind of mix of young blood and guys in their 30s and 40s too that provide a lot of knowledge, but there's, it's going to be very difficult event for us to go in and win and fortunately last year, I mean I could say I'm likely to be on the team just given last year, and that would be fantastic honor to go over there. I played one over there already, and I would like to go kind of -- I would like to win a singles match. That would be fun. That's a good start for me.

Q. Following up on what he asked you, what are your general thoughts on playing with amateurs and celebrities and what that means to the game and how that changes a tournament. And then the second part was if you could just talk a little bit about Pebble Beach, the golf course itself. What do you like about it or don't like about it?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, well this event historically, going back to the Bing Crosby, has been something that's been a very unique event to be able to combine this amateurs and professionals. I've thoroughly enjoyed this event. That's why I played it every year. I've also been fortunate with who I have with Jake as a partner that I said it's almost advantageous to me. So that certainly helps. Playing here at Pebble Beach, when you get to -- like I love when you turn on number 3 and then you get that, I love hole number 3 and then you go 3 through 10 there of holes on the water, just fantastic golf holes, some of the best in the world. It's almost like when you're playing it you only get a couple rounds in this tournament and you just want to take advantage so bad. You want to be able to like say, I shot a low score at Pebble Beach. Like it's exciting in its own right because of the history of this golf course and just how beautiful it is. But it's such a challenge, too. We're going to have a wind that's going to show some really low scores through nine or ten holes, and then guys are going to turn back into the breeze and really have to focus coming in on the back nine at Pebble this week. It's going to be a similar wind every day, so it's going to show some teeth on the back nine, which should present an exciting finish Sunday.

Q. Romo is in the field this week you played a fair number of rounds with him. How would you assess his game?
JORDAN SPIETH: He's playing really well. His short game is fantastic. He's walking in putts from 15 feet at home just, I mean, walking them in almost every hole. It's really impressive. We'll see if he walks them in out here. It's harder to walk them in on poa annua. But yeah, I mean he's a guy that when he gets kind of a feeling, he sees a couple shots, I mean he believes it like this. And then he can hit a hundred of them in a row. His muscle memory, his hand-eye coordination is really special. So I have no doubt he'll shoot under par every round out here from where they're playing from. And he's, I know, really excited for the challenge and he wants to beat the pros that are in his group. That's kind of his goal. He wants to -- I mean he thinks he can win this golf tournament if he played it with us.

Q. If he practiced enough and had it as a goal could you ever see him making a run at say Champions Tour?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure. Yeah. I think so. He's got to maintain, he's got to be healthy. Playing that many seasons in the NFL is a beating. But I think he's doing the right things. He's -- we have been seeing the same chiropractor and he's training in there and he's kind of changed the way that he's seen training and he's never felt better in his life. So if that were to continue -- and he loves golf so much, he's going to practice it all the time, that's all he's been doing and, yeah, I think that's not out of the realm at all.

Q. Do you feel that your ability, your thinking, your ability to process is ever a liability?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it has its advantages and disadvantage, no doubt. Yeah, right now on the greens I just want to go blank and just putt and that's what I'm trying to get back to. But at the same time I think I'm able to stay in golf tournaments when I don't have my A game because of the thinking and the mapping out and leaving myself in the right spots. So it just trying to figure out when to use it and when to put it away and how to put it away is where the advantage comes in.

Q. Can you draw at all from your professional partner this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I mean D.J.'s just a -- and I've been his partner -- I mean, he sees a light pole out there and he just hits it at the light pole and he normally hits it on the light pole. And I'm out there going, okay, I'm going to work a draw there because if I miss it right it's in a better spot. And it's like, yeah, you certainly can. It's awesome to see, when he's on, it's a clinic, it's fun to watch and not so fun when you're competing for the same trophy and he's able to take different lines or he's just at the top of his game, it's, he's difficult to take down. But it will be a good time this week, it always is these first three days with those guys.

JOHN BUSH: All right, Jordan Spieth. Best of luck this week.


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