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March 26, 2019

Jordan Spieth

Austin, Texas

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room.

Jordan, long time on the PGA Tour, making your sixth appearance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Let's have some opening comments about being in your home state and playing in front of some home fans.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's awesome, especially being in a place that I'd spent some time in college. We qualified here. I love playing the Texas events. Added San Antonio again this year next week. Fun stretch here leading into Augusta, starting with match play, which is always a blast to kind of change the pace.

MODERATOR: Some comments on your grouping with Bubba, Billy and Kevin Na.

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, there'll be no shortage of conversation in our pod. It's kind of the talking group. It will be fun. I mean, I've played more with Billy and Bubba than I have with Kevin, but I've played some rounds with Kevin, as well. But all three very difficult match play. Kevin is not going to be out of any holes, a straighter hitter. Bubba clearly having won this event last year, and then Billy being just a really solid striker of the golf ball.

It will be difficult to get out of that stage, but even when this format changed it's the same approach, you win or go home. So it's as if we were just drawn in the 64 and each match is you either advance or you don't, if you lose. So this whole pod thing, you may get lucky losing a match and still get through, but it's unlikely.

Q. Is this a good format for the state of your game right now in terms of trying to get some confidence going forward or is it good to go up against one bloke and take him on?
JORDAN SPIETH: I feel good about my game right now, I got off to a bad start at PLAYERS, but it's been progressing nicely. Match play provides freedom to feel less protective swings and more trust in kind of if you are working on something, so I think so, for sure.

Q. You said your putting is back to where you wanted it to be, as you left there and your swing was a work in progress. How close to being where that putting is do you feel you're are?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I put in a lot of really good work this last week. I grinded it out and started to figure out some things. So time will tell. But it should be better and better as each week goes on.

Q. Just wondering what your mentality is about looking forward to the Masters and trying to get your game in shape for that versus trying to just get better today, this week, and worry about next week next week?
JORDAN SPIETH: More so the latter. The only thing having to do with the Masters is kind of my fitness schedule and then planning my schedule in general. But other than that, it's about this week only, trying to get better each day. If I go out and shoot 5-under and lose my match, it's going to be a positive for me as I go in and try to do better the next day. And still come out and fight hard, even if I don't necessarily have a chance of getting through. For me it's just about progression here. Match play can yield just about anything. I've gotten through playing -- I've gotten through in this tournament playing worse than sometimes when I hadn't. And so it's oftentimes you can't really tell exactly where it was unless you look at a scorecard.

Yeah, it's just about getting better each day.

Q. Paul Casey was just in here talking about the format. Would you prefer just straight knockout match play like it used to be or the format now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think it still is, it's just an extra match. I know guys you can get through, and maybe guys have won it since they moved and have been 2-1 and gotten through in a playoff or whatever. I played it in 2014 when it was -- when we were in Arizona and it was just knockout, and I liked that more, but I also understand the change. Guys would come over from Europe and be knocked out on a Wednesday and have to go home.

It's also better for TV coverage and fans to see more of their players, favorite players play more matches, so I get it. But personally I like just the knock out.

Q. You talked in the past how this is a different week from you. You see so many college buddies, and everyone wants tickets, everyone wants to hit you up for something. This year a little different, new player in the field, a lot of focus on the first time they're here. Do you feel like you can go a little bit under the radar this week? Is that better for you, to go a little under the radar this week, or not to be the sole focus of attention?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've kind of felt that way over the last couple of years, last year or so, I've been flying under the radar a little bit more. Either way. If you get more attention or you're the favorite, it means that you've been playing really, really well. So that obviously breeds confidence. And under the radar is always nice, kind of humble and hungry. So that also has its advantages, too.

So again that's all outside. For me I'm trying to stay very internal, very much just trying to progress each day.

Q. Have you ever been guilty in your years of playing this thing of being on the first tee and thinking, yeah, I should be able to beat this guy?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I think so, yeah.

Q. Did you win or lose?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I won, yeah. But you could think that way -- everybody here is capable of shooting 6-under tomorrow. Everybody is capable of shooting 1 or 2-over. So it's nice, I think, to think that way. It's not like it's overconfidence, getting ahead of yourself, not taking the guy seriously. It's more I think inner confidence that "I believe in my ability, that if I play my best that this guy can't beat me" kind of thing.

Q. And secondly, in terms of your level of excitability, either positive or negative, is there a difference the way you are emotionally match play versus stroke play?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm probably more level in match play.

Q. Seems like it would be the opposite.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, I think what can hurt a scorecard doesn't hurt your scorecard as much in match play. And then sometimes when you win holes it's like, well, I just won that with a par, and that guy screwed up the hole. So you're like, okay, you're not necessarily like I just made three birdies in a row.

I feel like I'm more level personally than I would be in stroke play. But I also haven't made it to the semifinals or finals in this, and certainly in a World Golf Championship when it comes down to that, that's an added the element. So that could change.

Q. When your results aren't what you want it to be, so-called slump, are you old enough to think back to when was the last time you went through this and how you got through it, or are you asking people how, can I get through it? Is the answer grind it out or play through it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think the right amount of analyzation of the right things. Not nailing in the wrong things, not overdoing. Less is more. When you're playing well, I think it's probably better to grind out even more, because you want to implement those good swings.

Unfortunately, I kind of went the other way, I started to kind of press a little bit when things weren't great. And so I've kind of done -- when I've gotten on the right track and really had solid days, I've been adding practice at the end of the day to those. And at the same time when it's just kind of off that day, then just backing off. I'm talking about my practice days.

So, yeah, I mean for me it's been a mixture. For last year it was really just putting until kind of the end of the year where that started to get better, the swing got a little off. I've unfortunately had these waves of one thing being off that prevents me from consistent solid golf. But the other thing is really good. So good news is I feel like my putting is here to stay and the swing is working the right direction.

I'm not paying attention to results, like I put pressure on last year. I'm more -- if I make a birdie on that hole and I make a birdie on the next hole and the next hole, then I'll probably get the right results.

Q. Kind of piggybacking off of his question, you're so familiar with this course and the vibe here in town and all that from your years in college and playing this event here. Does it feel different because Tiger is here? And watching his practice round yesterday, the crowds following him, seemed like it was a normal actual round instead of practice. Does it have a different feel this week with his presence?
JORDAN SPIETH: I haven't seen him yet, and I didn't see the crowds on the course. It typically does everywhere he plays, but I haven't noticed it at all. I'm also not staying downtown. So I'm less in Austin this week and I'm more at a golf tournament, for better or worse. I love this city but at the same time being closer to the tournament and more just focused individually and less on the vibe or the added spectators or whatever, it's more just I'm here to selfishly just to do what I want to do, and then I'll make trips down to Austin in the fall and have fun those times.

I haven't noticed any difference, but I also haven't even seen Tiger yet.

Q. Why has that changed for you, with this year versus years past?
JORDAN SPIETH: I did this last year, too. It was mainly because of traffic (laughter).

Q. It's perennial match play kind of question, but looking at the variety of playing styles in your pool, how much are you kind of having an Austin Country Club game plan and you play the holes a certain way, and how much do you anticipate reacting to what your opponent is doing, given the variety of playing styles in your pool?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think especially I think tomorrow I play Billy and it will be pretty similar. It will be probably playing a similar route. But then Kevin could be different. And then Bubba totally different, right, and totally different from Kevin. So it's a good question because there's going to be -- I'm going to see some balls in certain places and then in other places day to day, and it will certainly require a lot of patience.

Yeah, I think to answer -- you answered it correctly, it's stick with your own plan for that golf course and don't adjust. I mean, Michael was just asking me on 18, "Say you're on the tee, it's straight downwind and you're 1-up. Are we still hitting driver?" And so then I'm less thinking about the scenario and more thinking about what's my best chance to have a putt at birdie. Playing the hole that way versus I'm-the-1-up situation. Because if I get myself inside ten feet to birdie, clearly I've played the hole correctly and used it as an advantage. Certain pins require a different strategy off the tee.

Q. When you've gone to Augusta at times that are well away from the tournament, are you there more to have a good time and enjoy the perks of being there or do you get anything out of it in relation to the Masters? And also have you been there since the last Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH: So I go every fall or winter, November, December time frame. And that's typically just for fun and enjoying the perks. It's very little to no prep, other than this year where I got to see a hole totally change. And I got two rounds in.

In some years past I've made a trip in March, and that's more of a practice round. I'm still not hitting putts and shots around greens like you do in real practice rounds, but it's to test out kind of -- look at the surface, kind of get on the grounds so that your, oh-this-is-Masters-week shock level goes down a bit. I don't really think I'll have that anymore. I've had a career's worth of stuff at Augusta. So when I show up on Monday there, it's like, oh, it's Masters week again. I mean that not to be that I've lost how pumped up I am, because that's not it at all, it's just more I feel good about wherever my game is I feel good about this week, I feel good about this golf course, I'm excited for the tournament, but that's it. It's not like it's here or there.

So I just went in December. I didn't make another trip this year, given the scheduling. I didn't find the time.

Q. (No microphone).
JORDAN SPIETH: It's different. Kind of forces driver in your hand more than 3-wood. So it makes it a little bit tougher. And then they have a new pin position that can pretty diabolical, and I think they've softened the green little bit. It's definitely a little bit different, yeah.

Q. Now that you're an old married man, is marriage good or bad for a golfer's game?
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean, either neutral or good, yeah, (laughter). I mean, for me it's like I go to work like anybody else goes to work. And when you're at work, you want to be a hundred percent there. And then when you're home, you want to be a hundred percent there.

Q. You don't take it home with you, if you have a bad round?
JORDAN SPIETH: I struggle a bit with that, absolutely, like anybody does. And certainly need to work on that, but she's been great about helping me work on that.

Q. Describe the state of your game right now compared to this point last year?
JORDAN SPIETH: I am way more content, sleeping better, happy with where I'm at than I was last year at this time. Last year at this time I was very much struggling on the greens, and right now I'm not. And I can fix full swing.

Q. Did you watch the draw show?

Q. When you won the Masters, was there a moment that night or next morning where you were by yourself and you could exhale and look at the jacket you had, or sort of in your own place reflect on what you'd done, and what was that like?
JORDAN SPIETH: I really don't think I did until like I week and a half later. I mean, from that night -- I remember the car ride home. We got done with everything that you do afterwards, and it must have been 10 or 10:30 by the time we pulled out of the club. And I remember rolling down the window and just screaming. Jay was with me.

Q. On Washington Road?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, not on Washington, on Magnolia Lane (laughter).

And so that was just kind of like -- that was the first exhale. When you get done, you have your scorers tent where you're just sitting there like -- but you're very focused because you need to make sure that that thing is correct. There's been some times that it hasn't been at that tournament. And then you -- yeah, so it wasn't really until maybe after Hilton Head and after I think the ACM awards or something, on the way home from Hilton Head we went to, may have been like the next day where I was home, and I was like wow.

Q. Is the feeling or the satisfaction what you imagined it to be when you were a kid growing up?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes. Yes. And then it continues to add on and add on and add on over time, too.

Q. You mentioned sort of backing off on certain days and putting less pressure on yourself. How do you go about figuring that stuff out? And how does it that fit into maturing as a pro?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've done more kind of reading. I've done more just kind of -- I've got a couple good -- I've just learned some lessons where when I look back I'm like, man, I was trying to work on something and I hit two extra buckets of balls, but it wasn't the right thing. Well, that just moved the needle the wrong way. And so when you do that you start to realize that actually rest is better, even though you feel like it's not laziness, it's just you don't have the right movement that difficult. Let's go regroup, figure out what could possibly be the fix and then come back and work on it the next day.

What's tough is when you're in the middle of having to play a long stretch of golf because a lot of times you want to have the ability to have those long practice days and also those days off. Well, some of those days where you don't have it you may have to play two days in a row with that. And you've just got to deal with that. That's every player. Everyone goes through ups and downs in every part of their game as a professional. So it's just about -- I just started to get maybe over analytical and a little too emotional on either side instead of really kind of just getting down to figure out what got off, where it got off, how to get better. Just like any other time it's just -- just took a little longer this time.

Q. You've been pretty consistent in your career. And again next week, playing the week before a major, just wondering what you get out of that. And also have you ever talked to guys who don't ever do that like Tiger or maybe Bubba, who never play a week before a major. Do you talk strategies why you enjoy playing the week before a major, and why they don't play the week before a major?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've never played before the U.S. Open and I've played probably half The Open Championships I've played the week before and half I haven't. And the PGA and the Masters I play before. I really don't have a certain trend, it's just into the Masters when you get the same grass type a couple weeks in a row. I normally play my better golf second, third, fourth week in a row, rather than the first week out especially if it's a multi-week break. Finding just little things that are rusty things of getting back into tournament golf, even two weeks you can get rusty in certain decisions or whatever it may be. And when we get similar grass types, this overseed into Augusta it's really nice. And then the other -- only reason I wouldn't play into other events is just because the schedule gets nuts and it would just be too much golf.

So I've had a lot of success in the major championships in the last four or five years. We have a great plan as a team. I don't feel the need to reach out. I like what we do as far as scheduling goes. Certainly it's worth -- you can always get better and maybe learn new strategies when you're at courses to get to know them better and that you can reach out. But as far as scheduling goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

And even last year when I felt like I was struggling, I had a chance on Sunday to win two of the majors. If that's an off year for me, then I'd like to see the on years.

Q. Do you think a big change between Houston that groomed itself for the Masters and San Antonio, which is really not?
JORDAN SPIETH: As far as I know it will be the same grass type other than the rough. But just the overseed around -- the pitching around the greens, the way the bunkers will play and the fairway shots, it should be pretty similar. And what I'm talking about mostly is kind of your wedges and your chipping and pitching and all the shots that are required around the greens. It's a similar grass. So it will be -- I played San Antonio two weeks before the Masters the year I won the Masters and it was overseed like it will be next week and it was the same as Houston. Just Houston had no rough and San Antonio will have that Bermuda rough.

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