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October 30, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started here with Jordan Spieth at the 2018 Shriners For Children Open. Jordan is making his tournament debut here this week. Get an opening comment on your first start here at TPC Summerlin.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, so like I was just telling you outside, I like to try and create an off-season every year given there is no off-season on the PGA TOUR other than a bit of December.
In the past, I've played in November, December, and therefore this was a time of rest and off-season. Now that I'm not going to be playing down there in Australia and whatnot, I still wanted to play this fall. Those events this week and next week were extremely highly talked about by my friends and ones that when I've been watching them the during off-season in the past I've been jealous I haven't been there.
So it's actually really nice to get this opportunity. I feel great being here. I feel rested. I feel healthy. The game feels like it's in good shape. I had to play seven out of nine weeks or whatever with what felt like not great form. You just kind of have no choice but to keep playing there at the end of the season.
It was nice to sit back and kind of go through the checks and balances and fix what needs to be fixed. Most importantly, get a little bit of rest.
THE MODERATOR: In the past presumably you've been looking at the FedExCup standings in the fall and you're and showing up with zero points when you make your first start in the season; some guys have won tournaments in the fall. They made some pushes. How important would it be this week to get off to a good start and start off your season well?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it would be really nice, especially with emphasis on a regular season this year, too. That will obviously, no matter what anybody he says, that's a goal of every PGA tour member, is to try and win the regular season and FedExCup playoff bonus.
So the fact that it's the 19th season, I feel like I've got a fresh start to kind of put kind of everything from the last few months behind me and use kind of momentum from the Ryder Cup. Felt like I really started to play well there under some extreme pressure. Continue on that path here for these two events for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. 31st in the FedExCup is a pretty good low mark for a career so far. How do you assess it yourself given it was you first winless season in a while, and what do you need to do better this season?
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, I really felt like I played like 30th, but Tiger played healthier than everyone thought. He just kind of took my spot there and then went on and won.
But, yeah, it was a building year. I look back at last year as something that I think will be beneficial for me in the long run. I really believe that. I know that's an easy thing to say looking at kind of the positive in a negative, but there were tangible, mechanical things that I needed to address, and I was able to throughout the season.
Unfortunately, I had to play so much, like I said, towards the end that I couldn't really get it intact. So I stepped on the first tee knowing that I was playing a C-game instead of figuring where my game is at through the first couple rounds.
But I've done a lot of good work over the last four weeks, whether it required time off thinking or required actual practice. I've done I think a good balance of that and come in here with confidence.
Q. Will you nerd out a bit on us on those things you were trying to do?
JORDAN SPIETH: I can't, you know, because that's a competitive advantage for myself.
Q. Your stats were great in every sort of -- your approach and your driving still were great, and you were talking about it all last year that you were worried about certain aspects of your swing. You had been doing something wrong.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, yeah.
Q. What motivated you to change that given the stats read true in those departments?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think if you look at the trend, say second half of the season on, my short game started to get better but the long game progressively fell; so that is why.
I knew I had more work to continue on the short game, but needed to address a bit of the long game as well. To be honest, my rookie season I think was my best statistical driving season. I think I ranked in the top 15 in strokes gained off the tee. I hit it five yards further now, yet have not sniffed a top 15 in that category. That's a goal.
I'm in a new driver this week and I like it a lot. Certainly the distance stats being at elevation and some dry air will be nice and they'll get pumped up. But that's something that I'm certainly focused on, is trying to hit more fairways. If I can get to 65% in my fairways I move up to the top 15 in strokes gained, and the rest of my game will come around to play from those positions and have a chance to win golf tournaments.
Q. I don't know if you've had a chance to play a practice round here yet. If you have, what are your thoughts on this golf course and what do you think you need to do to put up some low numbers here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I played the back nine today. Clearly tough to tell in these conditions, but looks like it's more of a second-shot golf course where it requires a lot of precision from the short irons. Maybe pitching wedge to short irons.
And then because it is pretty difficult to hit it in the sections where the pins will be, you'll be left with some very difficult short game shots. I've looked. Statistically it's on of the most difficult, maybe Top 5 most difficult, places around the greens to chip from. I like the grainy bermuda grass, so that's nice to come in here comfortable on this type of grass.
But you still got to really be careful about where you're leaving spots. It's a course I would like to have seen for years to know exactly where the right misses are. I'm trying to learn as much as I can quickly. We do a pretty good job of that.
Q. On getting burnt out, you mention played seven out of nine weeks without having your best game. What do you do as a professional golfer to not get burnt out and get on the golf course every day and have that drive?
JORDAN SPIETH: It comes naturally to me to not be able to -- it's a blessing and a curse, kind of the perfectionism that I kind of have. Meaning when? It's off like that yet you have to play, instead of recognizing it's off and maybe do less and just -- you know, not wash the rest of the year, but maybe it helps to do less -- I just overdid it. I was spending longer -- I spent more time at the course when my game was off than when it was on. Didn't really find the right balance.
Everybody played seven out of nine weeks. In the past I've at least -- I've been in form for at least half of it, right, where it's more stress-free. When you're just grinding mentally to try and figure out what it is and then physically putting in those hours, it became too difficult to turn it around for me. I was kind of getting in my own head in a sense.
So I was able to clear out before the Ryder Cup. Those two weeks, that week off not playing in Eastlake helped me for the Ryder Cup, no question. For those reasons.
Q. Do you think you might have time to stick around Las Vegas to get in on the Tiger versus Phil action? If you can't, do you think paying 20 bucks for the pay-per-view is a good deal?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm playing next week so I'll be out of here hopefully Sunday night. Yeah, I won't be around then. But, yeah, I'm sure that myself and our friends will be watching it. There is certainly an interest from us, yeah, especially knowing the both of them. Having them mic'd up and knowing them personally it'll be kind of extra special.
Q. Was falling short in tournaments last year just one of those things that happened? Playing the next two weeks, does that mean you'll be playing 26 or 27? How much does it really affect your routine and plan for the whole year?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm sorry, I missed it. You're good.
Q. Want me to start over?
JORDAN SPIETH: You said falling short last year.
Q. Was it just one of those things? Will playing the next two weeks mean you'll be playing 26 or 27 tournaments? How much would this mess up your schedule routine?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it doesn't, because like I said, I've played at least twice in the fall from after the team event to the new year every year.
This year I'm getting married so I'm not playing.
Q. The one week.
JORDAN SPIETH: When I would be. I still want to play -- I still like to -- so I'm playing the same number from the end of the team events until the new year. As far as number of tournaments next year, that's going to change for everybody given the schedule being compact and shortened.
So I don't think numbers-wise you'll see guys play as many tournaments given there just aren't as many tournaments. So I'm not sure what the number looks like. Depending on how these two weeks go depends on how my January/February stack up. Even after that I only know my schedule until maybe April.
Q. I was talking with Davis Love earlier, and he said you know what, the generation where you guys are so competitive with Rickie and Justin and Dustin and Brooks and everything, it's like you don't win ten tournaments a year you're in a slump. Just seems like there is this pressure to...
JORDAN SPIETH: Been a rough go for me then. (Laughter.)
Q. Got some catching up to do, right? How do you view that? Obviously golf is in a good place, but there is still a lot...
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think everybody was blessed with the dominance of what Tiger was able to do year in and year out, and really the society and the sports world in general. If you watch PTI or you're watching -- like any of these shows, almost every topic is a comparison. Now with the improved access that any person has via social media to an athlete, if you fall into that comparison talk it only hurts you.
I think it's been this adjustment from this accessibility that people have had over the last five years that they didn't have before that some people are using it to their advantage; it's bothering some people.
You know, using comparisons is unrealistic, especially in a sport like golf where you have so much that can happen so quickly, so many events for so many years. It's like you get caught up -- seems like the questions I'll get are people getting very caught up in a when have you done for me lately and your last tournament perspective. I'll be honest, for a little while that kind of stuff got to me.
You just have to work on it mentally and recognize that that's the way that everyone is viewing everything right now. Why are the Lakers 0-3? Is this a big problem? Is Kobe Bryant... Now, clearly tat was sarcastic, but is there a huge problem? They got 82 games. They're going to have more than three losses.
Like I told Justin when we walked off losing the first two holes to Poulter and Rory in the Ryder Cup. If we're going to be 2-down, may as well be 2-down through 2. We still have 16 holes to make it up.
So just having an elongated perspective, more patient view of things, helps free me up personally. But to answer your question on the comparisons to disappointment, if you don't do this or that or that, I'm not really in that game anymore.
Q. You're past it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean, I'm trying to be. I feel like I'm free rolling this year.
Q. You have some history in Vegas; launched your shoe a few months ago; played in a UNLV golf tournament several years ago. What are your memories from that tournament and general impressions of Las Vegas?
JORDAN SPIETH: Was the worst performance that I ever had in college golf. Southern Highlands was a very difficult golf course. It was probably the highest score to par of a winning score that we had as well.
I've come to Las Vegas dozens of times now. I've played golf out at Shadow Creek. I haven't played here yet. I've been there -- where were we in the UNLV one? Southern Highlands. Played there, did a couple photo shoots there. Always love coming here. It's a lot fun.
Doesn't really feel like you're in the United States. You're kind of in -- I don't know. You're in your own -- in a different place here. But it is bizarre being here working. Like we landed last night and I'm like, This is a little bit different coming in here and actually going to bed early and waking up early and coming out and getting work done.
But I'll enjoy the challenge this tournament presents this week for sure.
Q. You've obviously attained a level of excellence in your career, other than that 31st place finish this year. How do you define the term excellence?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would define what? That's tough. How would you define the term excellence? Continuing to be a good person first and foremost, striving for that first and foremost.
What we do on the golf course should never change who you are. I play golf because I love to play golf. I love the work that it entails. I love the artistry that it presents. I was born with a bit of talent, but I also love working at it.
So the excellence in what I do is more in when struggles present themselves, digging back out of those. That's when I'm finding enjoyment in that, is when I'm playing golf the way I should be playing golf. When you become a kid again, right? That's essentially where I'm finding excellence now in this sport..
Q. Jordan, I had Damon Goddard on my show last year. He told me that you're way behind on your dues.
JORDAN SPIETH: My what?
Q. On your dues.
JORDAN SPIETH: Way behind on my dues?
Q. Do you work with Damon when you're not playing golf, on your off weeks?
JORDAN SPIETH: We don't work together anymore.
Q. Oh, I did not know that.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah.
Q. Okay. All right. Does the new driver have anything to do with your brand ambassadorship for Club Champion?
JORDAN SPIETH: Doesn't, no.
Q. How did that come about?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, we have close friends who started it, and we had a really cool opportunity that we could partner with them. I think it's awesome. You know, it's kind of a place where a lot of people say you can only lose money, yet they're extremely successful in what they're doing. It's an extremely useful tool for somebody who loves the game of golf to be able to go in there and get fitted the right way for their equipment.
Because very rarely is your 8 handicapper able to hit what Dustin Johnson is hitting. Therefore, just because he hits it doesn't mean that that's what you should use. There are so many different clubs and shaft combinations that having a professional or system like Club Champion to be able to do it is extremely useful I think for your everyday golfer, your golf nut.
So really cool for me just being a golf lover, somebody who I do spend quite a bit of time in the off-season tinkering a bit and trying to figure out how to optimize my equipment, makes sense.
Q. You won Rookie of the Year in '13; '14, that season is a winless year; then the big '15 season. Any there any corollaries from the step back you took then to last season? What are your memories of how you refocused yourself leading into that huge '15?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, in 2014 I remember going into that off-season. We played the Ryder Cup, and that was a new experience. I remember being disappointed in not winning after winning Rookie of the Year. I had so many close chances and couldn't quite pull them off because I felt like I was trying too hard. I felt like it was the mental side of it, just the learning how to close and win.
Because my first win was unique. It was a holed bunker shot and a five-hole playoff and a bunch of pars, so I wouldn't say it was like maybe my next win in Tampa, PGA Tour win in Tampa, or Australia or Tiger's event later in 2014.
So there it was trying to figure out how to win. The difference in this was more mechanical, stuff that got off -- that are tendencies that I know I get into in higher pressure situations. So learning how to -- learning what they are, how to combat them. I think this is a different scenario. Like this has nothing to do -- like if I didn't win, so be it. It wasn't a frustration with not winning. It was let's figure out why I lacked freedom when I stood over the ball. So it's different in that sense.
But I guess that's the easiest way to say it. More mechanical this time and figuring it out. I can look at '14 into '15 and sit there and say, You know, the second I get disappointed in dropping whatever seven, eight spots in a world ranking, by August of the next year I was back to No. 1 in the world off one season. That can happen again. You know, it's quickly how things can kind of turn and change when you get a little momentum.
Q. I promise I'm finding the positive in all the numbers. Can you rate your putting last season, and have you done anything in this work, period of work, to address how that was compared to how it's been in the past?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it wasn't the strong suit of my game. But, again, back to what I was just saying. I wasn't sure exactly what it was. A lot of it was mechanical. A bit of mental because of the mechanical, but when that mechanical side -- when I'm kind of back into the same positioning, the same look, the same timing, same stroke feel that I've had for the last five, ten years, minus a bit last season, then my confidence is probably as high as anybody's on the greens.
Certainly not ideal, to answer your question, last year's putting stats. But necessary for elongated peak performance going forward.
Q. When you more three footers in one season than you had in three previous, is that a mental thing?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, it's physical. It really is. Yeah, it's a discomfort in setup that takes away from commitment through the stroke. If you're not committed through the stroke you're not going to make putts. It doesn't matter what range they are. I missed more from six feet than I did in previous years; I missed more from 15 feet that I did in previous years. It's every range. People just focus on the three because of their expectations.
It was every single length I missed more than I did the previous years combined. So you just fix it into the more committed stroke and clears up everything.
Q. Was trending up until the BMW.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, yeah.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports