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May 8, 2019
SHARON SHIN: Please help me welcome Jordan Spieth, a Dallas native here at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Jordan is making his 9th start at this event and he also made his PGA TOUR debut here as a 16 year old.
Jordan, if we can just get some quick comments about your return to this event.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It's bizarre that it's nine times. I just don't feel like I could have played in a tournament nine times but I owe a lot to this tournament. They gave me the starts when I was in high school.
It did wonders with me back then to learn from these guys but also measure up and see where I was, and glad to be back. It's unfortunate with the weather today, but fortunately it is today and not the rest of the week.
But so, yeah, I mean I like Trinity Forest a lot. I've been coming out here for -- since they were sprigging the greens so hopefully get it going this week and potentially have an exciting weekend.
SHARON SHIN: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Jordan, Jack Nicklaus was in town the other week and talked with you last year. He said you're pretty close to figuring it out.
Do you feel like your game is just a click or two away from getting back to where you've been?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I don't know on timeframe but I feel really good about the progressions being made. I know it got off for awhile, I didn't know what it was and I know it got off and now it's just the difficulty in fixing it, like anything else.
But, you know, for what I've been saying about progression, week to week my last four to six starts have been -- I've been a couple tee balls away from really having a chance to win and that's without feeling like I had my best stuff.
So, just kind of tightening up the tee game is really the key at this point. The rest of it is really coming together.
Q. Jordan, just a follow-up on that Jack Nicklaus comment.
When he spoke to us this weekend he had a chance to sit down with you and whatever he suggested to you it's kind of the same thing that you are already working on. I want to know your thoughts about having the greatest of all time spend that time with you and what it meant to you.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. We spoke right before the Champions Dinner, so in the Champions locker room at Augusta. It's been multiple times he's come up as he does with a lot of different players on Tour, especially the guys who live there in West Palm and Jupiter, Bear's Club. We don't get to see each other. It's cool.
Certainly really especially when one of the greatest ever to play the game who obviously has had his share of a lot of highs and a couple lows and certainly knows a lot about the game, can come up and offer his two cents.
Everybody is different the way they compensate for things, their tendencies are all different. It's more of like a question and kind of just talking about the overall than it is instructional.
It's really cool to be able to speak with Jack Nicklaus about golf in any means. I feel very fortunate to be able to do so, especially in such a scene as it was.
Q. Given the result of the Masters last month, could you kind of shed some light on how Tiger kind of influenced you growing up as you were coming up in the game and maybe watching him and what it's been like this last year to kind of watch him rise back up and obviously culminated last month?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. He was certainly very inspirational to me and obviously a number of people with the way that he played the game, the moments that he had the big putts that he holed, the big shots he hit under the highest amount of pressure. Unlike anything anybody else is doing, right?
He's the best. And it's the way Michael Jordan inspired the generations playing now are the way that I don't know Magic, Larry Bird inspired Michael Jordan's generation.
Just like Tiger had that impact on us and as a whole, and what he's done for this sport is immeasurable for the players and to see him come back and win the Masters is, you know -- every time it's a Masters Sunday and I'm not the one putting on the jacket, a large part of me is very upset but there is certainly plenty of positives from my point of view of him winning.
I thought it was really good for our game going forward, really cool to see and knowing that we'll potentially have the chance to battle it out in a Major with him is a dream come true. Brooks is here this week who has had a chance to do that. I haven't on a Sunday yet but I'd certainly love the opportunity, it would be great.
Q. Jordan, looking at your strokes gains stats, obviously you're putting is significantly better than it was a year ago but the other areas have kind of dropped off.
Can you talk about the challenges of working on one part of your game and trying not to lessen the impact on the other parts?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. It's not very difficult for me to do. Over the course of my -- so long I've been playing golf, there's always something you're singling out and you obviously put more emphasis on that to get it back up but it's not been in a place where anything else has dropped as significantly, and actually things that got off in putting are very similar to the swing, it's amazing the correlation.
It just started to work-up the bag and I started to fix the putting and started -- everything else kind of falling into place recently except the tee balls. And improving, it's just a matter of time.
I think I'm working on the right things. Like I said, just tightening it up a little bit. I'm not looking at the strokes gained for the year necessarily. Some of my best rounds were actually on the course they don't measure it. Actually my best rounds have all been on courses that are not measured with the strokes gained.
It's very difficult to really gain a full -- you know, because they actually would change the average pretty significantly. I know what I need to work on. I've been putting -- I've been now putting the effort in over there while making sure we're maintaining the rest of the game.
It's not normally that hard for me. It just has been pretty hard for me lately.
Q. I want to ask you also, you can be aggressive from chasing the career Slam again. Is it kind of weird to have it this early in the schedule? Have you gotten accustomed to it now you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think the last couple years it's been the way I look at it kind of if you know me, Rory got the chance to do it first, then Phil to do it next and I have the chance to do it last and now that's flipped and Phil winning at Peeble earlier this year and having -- it would be pretty cool bragging rights to try to complete the Slam before Phil. Not many people get bragging rights on Phil Mickelson. It would be pretty awesome to do. Kind of cool to get that chance before him.
I love the move to May. I think it's great. Opens up a lot more opportunities to move to different parts of the country that we weren't able to do in Augusta, and Bethpage is a place that I'm now -- I'm familiar enough with, playing The Barclays there in 2016 and playing it pretty well.
I like that we're going there next week. I like the choice of golf course and certainly I think I'll be flying in under the radar compared to previous years just based on kind of the results of the last year or so. But I don't mind that.
Q. Jordan, how would you assess this lull in your career, has this been tough for you to do, you just try to block everything out and concentrate on Xs and Os of practice?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's certainly tough but it's not tough in the sense of blocking out outside noise because nobody has any perspective really that's in this room of what I'm doing, so I mean that in full respect.
It's just, quite simply put, there's a lot of experts out there that actually have no idea what they're saying. It's actually not hard to say what I'm going to do. The very frustrating part is personally knowing what I need to do and not being able to do it or at least -- let me rephrase it that. Knowing what I need to do and doing that can be very challenging and taking so much time. It's unusual.
But when things get -- they really -- in what I'm trying to work on really did get off very significantly. It does take time and I'm certainly at peace with that now. I don't feel the need, by any means, to have to do something here, there or with any time frame. So, I feel good about being patient with it.
Q. Jordan, last year's tournament here you mentioned you had a lot of coin flip reads and sometimes they would go the other way.
Knowing how much you've played here and how the greens have probably settled in a little more, how much more confident will you be in your putting this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes. I think the greens are the purest that they've ever been out here. I think, again, it was just like I mentioned last year, it was just time for them to grow in.
They were cutting the grain out of the green constantly, verticutting to not make them very grainy but when do you that it takes longer for them to actually fill in to what you want them to be.
They're putting beautifully. I was trying to think from last year to this year I probably only gotten maybe 7 rounds. I don't play it a ton. Maybe ten rounds. I don't play it everyday.
But I played it a couple times last week and they were -- the golf course is in immaculate shape. It's really a shame the weather because we won't get to really see how great this golf course can be this week but it's early May in Dallas. That's what happens.
Q. Going off the remarks with that, how different do you expect the golf course overall to play from last year and kind of the softer set-up compared to this year and what we're seeing with the rain last week and today?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's going to play miles longer than it did last year. Still not a long golf course but with this north wind, too that's coming in, it's not the wind that the course is designed for.
So, holes will be quirkier, you have to play like shots that you wouldn't normally have to hit. You might hit 6-iron into No. 15 green which is a green that's normally designed to hold a wedge. Certainly holes are going to be really, really tough but then a couple of the par-5s are easier with this wind.
So, it's like the course is designed for it to be firm and be blowing 15 out of the south. Last year we had no wind and this year we have it soft and blowing out of the north.
It's just what happens. It will even out over time. We'll get the normal conditions most of the time. It's just kind of -- but it's your own unique challenge. You have longer clubs into tricky greens and firm greens. I imagine the scoring will be quite a bit different than it was last year. I still think with it soft it will be low but not as low as it was.
Q. Going back to your comments about the perspective and you're the person who has the perspective on your golf game and the rest of us looking from the outside, in 2015 you made golf look to so easy and enjoyable.
JORDAN SPIETH: It was.
Q. What is golf like for you now when you're in that grind mode and not getting the results despite the things you are working on?
JORDAN SPIETH: I let it really frustrate me and be really tough out there. On course, even in practice days at home, taking it home with me and stuff. I don't think that's totally unusual but it's something that you shouldn't do.
I think I've now found -- I really think I've done a good job now of embracing the struggle, the work like embracing the challenge ahead. You know, I have no doubt in my abilities and myself and it's simply mechanical and it's something that is just difficult for me to do and I just need to forget about any kind of comparisons to any other years.
Really, if I'm going to compare years based on my struggles, the worse thing to do would be compare to 2017 where I actually struck the ball better than '15. That's the been the toughest thing for me.
I have all my videos of swing of '17, it looks similar, what's different is you start to figure out what it is and you have to kind of embrace the work and the timeliness that it takes.
Q. Lot of Texas ties here and guys that are Longhorns, former players. What is the dynamic between you and Duncan and Scottie Scheffler?
JORDAN SPIETH: What is the dynamic between the Texas guys? It's great. We play quite a bit at home whenever our schedules allow which always trying to get a game going at home, whether it's out here, at Dallas National or wherever.
It's always good to have kind of four, five guys and be competitive. We played maybe two, three days in a row couple months ago with I think Tony and Scottie and we had Will "Salator", Carlos Ortiz, Kelly Kraft, Cramer.
There's a lot of guys in town. We really like playing with each other, always rooting for each other.
When we get a chance to play at home on a course we are used to playing these games on, it's pretty fun. I remember last year playing out here and kind of seeing Kelly across the fairway. Being like just this weird -- normally we're on the same group playing out here. So, we're always rooting for each other.
SHARON SHIN: Two more.
Q. Jordan, what will you tell fans to expect from Tony Romo this week and is it exciting that he's part of the field?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah. I mean Tony is an unrestricted free agent -- I'm sorry, he was an unrestricted free agent at one point. Unrestricted exemption, meaning it's not taking away from -- the whole Web.com category got in and he receives an exemption and I think it provides a boost for the tournament for sure.
I don't know what to expect from him -- I haven't played with him in a couple months. He's a very good player. Tournament golf, it is something different, something that's he's kind of the next stretch trying to figure out and learn, where the leaves are, how to take away the big numbers, that kind of thing.
He's done a good job of this. This is a place he's as familiar with as anyplace else so I think he's going to really especially enjoy it. I mean I don't know what he's doing -- last time I saw him he was putting normal. He's a good putter, too. Next thing I see he's like trying some kind of sidesaddle thing.
I'll need to talk to him about that. It should be a good thing for the tournament. The whole category is in. It makes sense for the tournament, I think.
SHARON SHIN: Last question.
Q. If you look at some of the putting percentages from the past few seasons overall on Tour compared with 15 years ago, it seems like people make less percentage of putts now over the past few seasons compared with 15 years ago.
Would you attribute that to green speeds or pin locations or other factors?
JORDAN SPIETH: Both. I'd say green speeds and hole locations. Hole locations sometimes can look pretty easy. When they do look easy they're normally the hardest ones. The grain is going one way and stick, the pin on the hill going the other way.
It's just -- it just makes it that much more challenging and I don't think the pin positions are necessarily much different from back then, but when the speed of the greens goes and some of those become four, five feet past the hole instead of two feet past the hole, it's different.
Lee Trevino, the other day, I was hitting balls. He came up. He said something along the lines of, "You know, we used to put on the greens like" and pointed to the turf I hit it off of.
Clearly that's not 15 years, probably a little longer than that. I think that they've changed. I like the move to quicker greens if the greens are capable of handling that kind of cut. It's nice. But I attribute it to both, yeah.
SHARON SHIN: Thanks for the time and good luck this week, Jordan.
JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports