August 4, 2020
San Francisco, California, USA
Harding Park Golf Club
JULIUS MASON: Jordan Spieth with us, ladies and gentlemen, at Harding Park. Jordan, welcome to the property here. It's been five years since your dream summer of 2015 when you made a real bid at Whistling Straits. What are your memories of that week, and if not for a record score from Jason Day, you would have pocketed your third major of the year.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, my memories from there, it was a great golf course. Really enjoyed playing it. A lot of fun.
Yeah, I was playing well coming in, one of those weeks where you're just trying to stay out of your own way and let the momentum take over. I remember having a chance as I started the weekend and then teeing it up with Jason Sunday, Jason was having such a fantastic year himself and thought it would be a fun shootout, I think I was trying to come from behind by a few shots, and started to make a little bit of a move, and every time I did, he'd throw a punch back.
It was his day that day. He separated himself, and I know it was a good day for me. I'd taken over No. 1 in the world at the time, and that was a tremendous goal of mine. Even though I hadn't won the golf tournament, there was a lot of good that came out of that week in my opinion, and I've had a couple good PGA Championships since, and I'm happy to be here.
I played here this same year in the Match Play and enjoyed it. It's tough to get a gauge on -- I think I played really well that week for the three matches that I played, I just happened to lose one of them so I went home. But what a great setting it is here.
Q. How much is the Career Grand Slam on your mind?
JORDAN SPIETH: About as much as it's been since I won The Open Championship, I guess. It's something that I really want. It's probably the No. 1 goal in the game of golf for me right now is to try and capture that. I'd love to be able to hold all four trophies, and this is the one that comes in the way right now.
Between this event, THE PLAYERS, those are kind of the two events that I haven't won that are the two that I really would like to.
It doesn't add anything extra. It probably -- I can't imagine it would. It didn't really last year, and I had a chance coming in. That was probably my best chance to win it so far, and it really didn't have much of an extra effect on top of what major championships already add when you're stepping on the tee Saturday and Sunday when you're in contention.
In the times that we have right now with no fans, it's going to be odd playing a major championship without fans. Nobody wanted this, but we'd rather be playing it than not, and I think overall, if anything, it just brings an extra comfort level to everybody that you're normally trying to get over as you get going into a major championship. You're trying to kind of quiet those nerves down, but I don't really think, at least starting out, that we'll have the same experience, feel the same way as we normally do, but I think Saturday and Sunday you'll start to really kick it back in and feel like a major no matter what because you're still trying to beat the best players in the world.
Q. You've been playing in a lot of warm weather in the restart events. Obviously this is a big change. Are you still a big launch monitor user, and if so, are you seeing a significant difference in your numbers here versus what you've been seeing say at home or in some of the events where it's been real warm?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I was anywhere from 10 to 13 yards shorter with a very similar swing and ball speed with the irons, and the driver is up to 20 yards shorter in carry, and that's normalized on the TrackMan.
Yeah, it's very different. I mean, I played nine holes each day already, so I've seen the golf course, and I would say it's been harder for me to hit -- to commit to some of the clubs first time around, so I'm glad that I've played some holes and been able to hit in some crosswinds into the wind and really see how much of an effect it really has.
But I'm used to playing the AT&T there at Pebble Beach every year in February, and we get very similar conditions to this.
It's just an adjustment. I think for me it normally takes a day or two and really being out on the course hitting a shot, being like, wow, that's -- hitting another one from the fairway after you didn't believe it and it still comes up short, and then you start to kind of recalibrate.
With a very similar swing, ball speed and spin rate, just the air itself and the ball being cooler, it's anywhere from 10 to 13 yards for me.
Q. What would you have said if someone told you three years ago that you wouldn't win another major between then and now?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'd say I hope you're wrong. But I mean, they don't come easily. If you win one every year, you shatter Jack's record. There's certainly going to be times where you go through ups and downs, and however you can find a way to quickly bounce back from the downs and get kind of right back to the top, that's obviously who sustains at the highest level of the game.
I'm working, I think, in a positive direction. I'm working the right way, and even in a few years of feeling like I didn't have my "A" game any time I teed it up, I still had a chance to win three or four majors on a Sunday.
Majors aren't necessarily totally about form. They're about experience and being able to grind it out, picking apart golf courses, so I feel like I probably have more confidence going into a major no matter where my game is at than any other golf tournament.
Yeah, I mean, I probably -- if you told me that, I'd probably say that guy is kind of a jerk and I'd walk the other way, but here we are, and I hope to end that as soon as possible.
Q. When you look back at '15, '16, '17 when you were at your height so far in your career, what kind of feeling was it coming to the golf course? Were you in a vibe where you felt like you were the guy to beat? When you look back at that what were you feeling in a tournament week like this coming into a major in form?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not exactly. Honestly, not a ton different. I remember going into a tournament thinking, all right, what's the plan for the next few days to get best prepared, and then I remember going into Thursday thinking what's the shot on No. 1, and then where are all the pins, how am I going to pick apart the course today. I was never an outside influence kind of guy as far as relative to peers, what they think, if I'm the guy with the target. I certainly knew I was the favorite to win golf tournaments just -- I'm aware of what happened. But at the same time, the best case scenario for me has always been arrive to the golf course, have a plan for that week based on what you've been working on coming in, hit all those checkpoints. That's the best way to breed that confidence as you go into the first tee ball, and then from there, how am I going to birdie this hole, and then move on to the next, how am I going to do that again.
It really can be that simple. Whether things have -- whether I've been super in form or not extremely in form, I've gone in with the exact same game plan, stuck to it as we go into majors, and it's been successful both cases. I've won majors in form and I've had plenty of chances to win it coming in not in form and gotten into form that week.
I like the game plan that our team has always had as we go into these tournaments.
Q. There was a passing comment about you on TV. I think it was Faldo during the Memorial that he said, right now you just can't seem to get any momentum going in a round. Do you think that's a pretty fair assessment?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I feel I've -- it's almost -- I almost feel at times like the game is testing me a little bit right now because I feel really good about the progress I've been making, and then it seems like I'll really have one brewing, and then I'll get where I used to hit a tree and go in the fairway, it'll hit a tree and go off the cart path out-of-bounds like it did during my most recent round. It just feels like I kind of here or there am taking some punches right now as I'm really progressing in the right direction.
I feel like you can look at it a couple ways. You can get really upset and complain about it, which I've done and that's not helpful, or you can look at it like hey, this is part of the game testing you, and the better you handle these situations, the faster you progress forward.
I've done a really good job of that the last really three tournaments that I've played as opposed to any previously, and Michael would attest to that, and my attitude has been phenomenal. Been okay with knowing that the game will test you, and also believing in the process at hand.
So that momentum, I assume, is inevitable, it's just a matter of when. I'm in no hurry. I've got a lot of years in front of me and hopefully the best years in front of me. I just stay the course. I keep my head down, focus on what our team is trying to accomplish and work each day really, really hard. I've worked my butt off over the last year mentally, physically and mechanically. Things will start to come together. I believe it.
Q. In its present state, how tough is this golf course playing, and what are the biggest challenges?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's very tough. I played the back nine today. It was pretty meaty there. 11, 12, 13, 14 are tough, and then on the front nine you kind of get a mixture of a couple holes where you feel like you can get at them, and then you get two or three or four in a five-hole stretch where you've just got to kind of hold on. The rough is up around the greens. It's not extremely difficult around the greens as far as leaving yourself short-sided. The bunkers are very playable. There's not big lips and the sand is pure, so you don't get in trouble if you miss shots in the sand out here.
But with these conditions, if we get cooler weather and some wind picking up, then you're looking at more of a 10-under. But if the wind dies down and it heats up a little bit, I think you're in a situation where if guys are really controlling the ball tee to green, the greens are a very makeable speed and there's not a ton of slope to them, so you could see some lower scores potentially. I think we're kind of forecasted somewhere in between the two, and so my expectation going out is to try and -- is not a hold on for dear life, par is a great score, but it's also not a let's fire at flagsticks. It's kind of somewhere in between where a few under is a solid round.
Q. You mentioned you've been in the hunt a lot of times at majors and you've built a certain comfort level there. For those guys who have done that, built it and been there, do you lose a little bit of an edge when there aren't 25,000 people lining that last hole on a week like this?
JORDAN SPIETH: I've talked to a couple of my peers in similar situations that agree with that statement, and I do, too. Yeah, I think it's a little bit of a -- I don't think there's any disadvantage. I just think that it is an advantage if you've been there before come the weekend. You don't feel much different as you're trying to work your way into contention the first couple days, but that Saturday or Sunday if you've had plenty of rounds like that and you're used to it versus when you're not, I mean, it's not necessarily the number of people because there's X times that amount of people watching, so it's not really the actual people at the course. It's just more of the driving in, the grandstands, just you know it's a major when you go into a PGA Championship or an Open Championship. You see the giant grandstands and just the ambiance that the tournament has, you start to -- your heart starts racing a little bit. You've got to control that heart rate a little bit more, and if you're used to doing it and you have plenty of rounds to draw back on, good, bad, turning rounds around, that kind of stuff, I think that advantage might be somewhat diminished in this kind of scenario.
But I've got a good feeling that the leaderboard will be -- I would imagine with this golf course and this tournament that the leaderboard will not disappoint as you go into Sunday.
Q. I was just curious some things you do to stay productive during off weeks and also when you're just away from the golf course.
JORDAN SPIETH: My off weeks are a lot of times busier than they are tournament weeks. I normally take two days off and then that's my one weekend a month pretty much. And then I get right back to -- I train in the mornings. I like to train in the gym before I go to the course. I normally start out Wednesday with Cameron at home, try and figure out what we're going to do that week, and then I'm going to kind of practice playing depending on what's better for me at the time. If I need to work on some stuff I'm practicing a little bit more, but try and get out and play three or four times in an off week and any kind of games that we can find at home. See family, see my friends, but in the evenings, and then try and also catch up on rest.
I mean, these days, Monday through Wednesday have been just a cake walk, so I don't feel like the weeks drag you down as much as they used to, just because you're not outside as often. Everything is moving a little bit quicker. I don't have any problem playing more right now than I may have in the past.
Q. When you consider some of the elite players in the game, when did Brooks Koepka first get your attention and why?
JORDAN SPIETH: Brooks would have -- I think when he won in Phoenix, was that 2014 was his first --
JORDAN SPIETH: He was on the Ryder Cup in 2016, so maybe 2015 when he won in Phoenix. You win in Phoenix, that's a great win. That's a tough place to go in and win, so it kind of gets anybody's attention when you go there. It's normally a pretty fantastic list of champions at that event, and he's obviously a young guy, too, so when a young guy wins, you're always like, okay, what's the potential here. He's older than me, but you know what I mean, he was probably 23 or 22 or something when he won there.
Yeah, I mean, the U.S. Open, his first major, that was -- by then -- I guess to answer your question, it would have been well before that. It would have been in that 2015-2016 time frame. I've played with Brooks in college events, so I've known how good he is, and then he went over to Europe for a while and then he just started to continue to progress over here.
JULIUS MASON: Jordan, looking forward to spending some quality time with you this week. Good luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports