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May 22, 2010

Jordan Spieth


THE MODERATOR: The HP Byron Nelson Championship in honor of Jordan Spieth making the cut, they have announced that they will allow anyone that is 16 and under into the tournament for free tomorrow, so a great gesture on behalf of the tournament and congratulations to Jordan on this. Jordan, great round today, again, shot a 67, and if you would make some comments about the round, the feel you got from the crowd and then we'll take some questions.
JORDAN SPIETH: I thought going in I thought it would be extremely important to get the crowd into it early. Holed out a bunker shot on 1 and no better way to do it than to get the crowd into it than that, and it was a roar, and I've never heard anything like it, and it was special.
Made a par save on 2, and it was almost just as loud, and I tried to feed off that the rest of the day, and a couple of putts fell in for me today, which was nice, long one on 12 got excited for. Over all, I'm extremely pleased with where I am and ready to make a run tomorrow.

Q. Through three rounds what would you say is your strong point right now?
JORDAN SPIETH: Controlling my emotions. I'm getting a little jumpy in between shots, I'm walking really fast, and I realize that. I just can't help it. But when I'm getting to the ball I'm remaining calm, which is important, and I made one or two bad decisions today, and I've only made a couple this whole week, which is normal for a 16 year old like me.
But, you know, I think controlling my emotions has been my strength, and I've just got to get out there and kinda let it sink in tomorrow.

Q. Tom Pernice said you called him "Mr. Pernice," and he told you not to call him that. Did it dawn on you that he's three times older than you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I didn't hear him tell me not to call him Mr. Pernice, so I went back and forth. I told Bags I had no idea what I should call him, because he has a daughter that's my age, and I don't call my friends' parents by their first name, so I was kinda going back and forth, and I ended up just screwing it all together. I was just like, "Good shot" and I wouldn't say anything after that, (laughter) or be like, "Nice putt" so, yeah, it was like playing a round with your dad, a little more talented golfer than my dad, but, you know.

Q. From a mental standpoint today, Jordan, having already made the cut, did you feel any differently, a little more relaxed?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, because I just felt the same way, because the first two rounds I didn't have the cut in my head. I was looking at the top of the leaderboard from the minute I teed off, and that's the way I wanted to approach it, and I mean, I knew where the cut line was, and I knew I was safe yesterday, I mean, pretty much safe unless you extremely blew it.
But I don't think I approached it any differently today, and tomorrow I may get out there, and I know the pins are going to be the toughest pins I've ever experienced in my life, but if I'm confident, I'm going to start firing because I got nothing to lose, nothing to hold back, might as well try and make a run.

Q. Jordan, talk about when they introduced you by name on the First Tee. What did that feel like for you? Did you get the goose bumps on the arms? Did they raise up on you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I got 'em through all three of my First Tees this week. It's just such a warm welcoming from everyone here, everyone that's out there supporting you. After you hit each shot, you're walking to your next shot or in between holes and everyone is cheering you on, you know, yeah, it gives me goose bumps.
I've just got to get out there and settle myself down and try and get them excited and give 'em something to cheer about.

Q. Jordan, I know you're trying to stay in the moment but next week you go back to an amateur event. Have you given any thought to the difference between the two, walking with TOUR players versus that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have. It's a Junior Golf tournament, one of my favorite tournaments I've ever played in, too. It will be different but, you know, it will almost feel more natural to me; I'll feel more at home when I'm there.
This is definitely a new experience, and don't get me wrong, I could get used to this but it will be -- it will be a different step over there.

Q. Mr. Pernice said that you were using a driver most of the time out there. Do you plan to keep doing that or are you going to adjust a little bit?
JORDAN SPIETH: Definitely. I actually -- I don't think -- I hit a couple -- I hit two 3-woods today, which was more than I've actually hit in the first two rounds. I just couldn't find the fairway today, and I hit good drives, they were just getting the wrong bounces, and I found myself in the rough on holes where I thought it was in the middle of the fairway.
I was playing out of the rough a lot today, I think I hit three, maybe four fairways, the entire day, which is not a very good stat, especially when the pins are where they are. But somehow I just hung in there and, so, yeah, I'm going to be hitting driver out there and get it as far as I can and get as many wedge opportunities as I can.

Q. Yesterday you were in the Texas golf hat, and I saw on your ESPN interview someone asked you about, you know, the fact that you're still committed to college, you didn't want to bypass that. Do you feel -- even a week like this, does it make you feel like college is the best place for you and that's where you want to be headed?
JORDAN SPIETH: It is hard because with you realize that you can compete out here and make a lot of money out here. I think right now if it ended right now, it would be a pretty big check, I'm not sure exactly what it would be. I stick by where I am right now, and I think that I need to learn and grow as a person and learn to control distractions and that kind of stuff better, and I think college is the place to do that. I think it's going to be really good for me to go hopefully four years. We'll see what happens in the first couple.

Q. I know that the leaders are still out there, but as you sit here right now, do you think you can win this golf tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think I can make a run. I know starting the entire week, I don't know, y'all gave me odds like 1,000 to 1 or a million to 1, something like that. No one expected me to make the cut, and I guess I have an outside chance. If I get the right conditions out there, the wind starts to pick up and I start just dropin' bombs from all over the place, it could happen, but I'm stressing a lot on the start tomorrow, getting in the crowd early, because I need the crowd behind me to make a run like that.

Q. Jordan, are you readin' your stories this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not really. I think I watched the Golf Channel thing last night. I saw myself on two holes, but I don't want to start reading it and getting pressure of getting a big head out here because I still have 18 holes left and -- no, I walked through the locker room today and there was something in the newspaper, just a big picture, and I was like, "Oh, man," and I kept on walkin'.
I'll look back on it and try and read as much as I can and watch as much as I can next week or the week after, given the amount of schoolwork I have to make up. No, I just want to stay in the moment right now and try and -- obviously I'm playing in a golf tournament. I don't want to get caught up in the story of "The 16 year old."
I want to get out there, and I'm six shots back, maybe, probably 7 or 8 by the end of the day, but, you know, I've just got to try and make a run.

Q. You are 16 years old. Are you allowing yourself to be 16 playing this golf tournament? Are you finding in some ways that you're changing?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, not really. It's not like I do this every week. This is a once-in-a-lifetime -- once-in-a-lifetime-so-far opportunity, so I'm enjoying it right now, but I realize that this isn't normal for me. It's a good variation, but I'll enjoy getting back to just being a normal kid.

Q. Can you talk about what you did last night and your plans for the rest of the day?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was kinda running back and forth for a while, and I got out of here and went over to my girlfriend's house last night and watched a movie, which -- "Dad, it worked, so I guess I'm going to have to try to do that again tonight." (Chuckles.)
And I did that because I wanted to get my mind off the tournament, so I went there and wasn't thinking about the tournament and came back and started to prepare late last night and into the morning -- not late but last night.

Q. Do you call or talk to any of your coaches in between rounds here?
JORDAN SPIETH: My coaches?

Q. Do you have a high school coach or swing coach?
JORDAN SPIETH: My high school coach was watching, and my swing coach is right in the back there. He's been with me on the range and everything this whole week. As far as my future coaches, Texas is up playing for regionals right now; they were tied for the lead, I don't know how they did today, so hopefully they're doing well, and I talked to them a little bit yesterday.

Q. What has surprised you most by this week at a TOUR event and what have you learned the most?
JORDAN SPIETH: The crowd has surprised me the most. I expected a big following, I didn't expect what we had today. Now, then again, when I was thinking about the crowd, I was only thinking about Thursday and Friday. You know, just getting off to a good start. I expect it to only grow into tomorrow, and what I've learned?
Probably the most important thing I've learned is, especially playing with Blake Thursday and Friday, he was so calm out there. He stayed so neutral, and he was dropin' putts from all over the place. When I dropped a putt, especially on 12 today, I went nuts, I threw a big 'ol fist pump, which I shouldn't be doing because I don't know how to. (Chuckles.)
And playin' with Tom, or Mr. Pernice, whatever he wants me to call him, he was the same way. He was out there and he would -- he would hit an unbelievable golf shot as an example No. 14, an extremely difficult shot today, straight into the wind, and he hit a shot in there with a 7-iron off a downslope, it was a ridiculously great golf shot, and he walks up there -- goes about his business and walks up there calmly and makes the putt. I'm learning how they control their emotions.

Q. Don't get too up and down?
JORDAN SPIETH: Right, exactly. I kind of do that sometimes, and I'm trying to stray toward being neutral, because that's when I play my best golf.

Q. First, what movie did you watch last night?

Q. Important.
JORDAN SPIETH: Very funny. Good movie.

Q. You were talking about the shot Tom Pernice just hit. The shot that you hit, the approach shot on No. 8, looked like a difficult shot for most of us. Was that a difficult shot that you made look easy?
JORDAN SPIETH: No. 8 was one of the best shots I hit today, and it wouldn't stick out to anybody that was really watching it -- I guess it might.
Yeah, I hit a drive there, and I thought it was going to be perfect and it hit off the side of the hill and went on to -- ball was below my feet, pin is on the right, and I normally hit my 8-iron about 165 yards, and I was 166 or 7 into the wind, into the right-to-left wind, and I took out an 8-iron and tried to hit it as high as I could, because the ball is flyin' out of the rough. Every time you get in the rough -- it's how they want it to be. That's why it makes it so difficult.
I just launched it into the air and it came down as soft as it possibly could and it rolled down onto the green, and Bags came over and said, "That was a great shot," and it really was.

Q. What did you yell?
JORDAN SPIETH: I yelled, "Be right," and I think he did, too, because it was right at it and drifted off.

Q. What was the bigger shot to get you going, the holing out of the bunker on 1 or that bump-and-run on 12 and the putt where you fist pumped? Which do you think was more critical for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think No. 1 was. Getting off to a good start is so big in the way that I function mentally. If I start red, if I start under par, it's easy for me to keep it going. If I start over par it's difficult for me to get back and get on a roll.
Now, saying that, I'm using examples from junior tournaments. I've never had a crowd out here that can support you like the crowd this week. So even when I made -- I think I made three bogeys today, but after each of them I was able to bounce back -- I guess I ran out of holes after 17, but just with the crowd -- the putt on 12 was huge, just in the middle of the round, because I kinda was going a little -- 11 was kinda iffy, wasn't a great hole, but I was on a roll when I went through No. 12, but No. 1 starting off was so big!

Q. What's been the hardest thing about having to sign autographs after a round? Has your hand cramped up? Do you have ink stains on you?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I signed an iPhone today, which was different. No, the hand hasn't cramped up, but it's a new experience, and it's different for me, so I love it. I loved doing that, and I know that it's not going to happen every week. Just enjoy it while I can, just like everyone is telling me here.

Q. So what was the biggest crowd and the biggest pressure you faced before this week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Probably the U.S. Junior, just because in the U.S. Junior there were cameras that would come behind me on every shot, just like there are out here, and go right behind you when you're swinging and it was nice to have that experience out here. I wasn't shocked to see them do that. But that's the most pressure I've been under, just because it's so grueling the way that that -- I played like 10 rounds in seven days and had some tough matches, too, but still none of it compares to this.

Q. Given that you go to a Jesuit high school, how will you reflect upon this weekend?
JORDAN SPIETH: Especially with my classmates out there, and the faculty, you know reflecting on this week, I just got to go -- you know what? I can't really describe it. I don't know yet, to be honest, is the easiest way to put it. Right now I'm trying to go out and win it tomorrow. Reflecting on this week, I can reflect on the couple days that I've had so far and the neat experiences that I've had, but I still got another extremely important day tomorrow, so I've got to get out and start firing at some pins.

Q. Your parents have mentioned that you used to come out here when you were five years old, growing up. I wonder if anytime this week, if you're signing a little kid's autograph, have you ever flashed back to how you used to be one of these kids running around out here?
JORDAN SPIETH: I have one -- I remember watching pros on No. 2, before they redid it, looking at the pin sheets or whatever, standing up there and talking about it and being a little kid and watching them thinking, "Whoa, these guys are big, and they're hitting a 7-iron where I would hit driver wedge," and I got on the 2 tee box today and I looked over, and I was like, "I can't believe that I'm already doing this," you know? So, yeah, I've had a couple of those throughout the week, but it's really cool.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Jordan. Good luck tomorrow.

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