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March 26, 2014

Jordan Spieth


DAVE SENKO:  I'd like to welcome the 2013 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Jordan Spieth to the Valero Texas Open Media Center.
Jordan, maybe just get us started, at this point last year maybe just your reflection on after this event, what transpired, the year you had in making the Presidents Cup and winning your first event, kind of a big change.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Definitely.  None of it would have been possible without tournaments like the Valero giving me sponsor exemptions going back the last two years.  Ultimately made it, a huge difference in my career thus far and, you know, from here went on to play, you know, off some exemptions.
I got into some events on my own then we came back to Colonial, was kind of a big week for me after this and another Top-10.  So was Hilton Head.
And then obviously the John Deere was huge, took it to the next level, allowed me to have full status playing in The Playoffs, become a full-time member and be eligible really for making a run at the Presidents Cup team which then in The Playoffs happened and had the experience of my life golfing there back in September or October I guess it was.
Then, you know, try to get off to another great start this season.  Put myself into some positions early on to get some wins and to get a win and I haven't yet but I'm looking forward to taking advantage of being in the home State of Texas here and riding some support and I know we have a great pairing this week.  Looking forward to playing with Martin and Phil and trying to get something going.
DAVE SENKO:  We open it up for some questions.

Q.  All your wildest dreams can you have imagined this, Jordan, and that has it been like in a whirlwind?  Can you describe what it has been like your first year on the Tour?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Kind of a whirlwind when I look back.  While it was happening everything was actually maybe moving slower.  I mean things seemed easy.  They still do.
It's not like I look back now as if, you know, I'm at the end of a career.  I feel like -- yeah, it jump started a lot quicker than I definitely could have imagined.
I had to have a lot of good breaks.  I had to have a lot of things go my way, there's no doubt about it.  Also have unbelievable support from my team and from tournaments to give me exemptions to allow me to play against these players and ultimately without those it would have been -- it would have taken me more time to learn how to win or to the win on the Tour.
It's a whirlwind looking back but I think the way for me to look at it is it was a great jump start that maybe happened faster than I thought but there's only -- there's only more and more goals to set and more places to go and to think.
I got my goals set on what's coming up next versus what's happened in the past.

Q.  Did you ever think that this -- you always think that maybe this could happen, it's possible but did you really think that it would happen this quick and have you had anytime to reflect on it like --
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  I definitely -- it's been on my mind since I was a young kid that I could be out here and since I was 15, 16 realized that it definitely could happen if I stuck with it.
So, the fact that I'm able to play out here isn't shocking to me but the fact that it did happen so quickly after leaving school with no status within six months or so to be able to, I guess, win in July and become a full-time member, yeah, I didn't think it would happen that fast and the only time I really looked back on it was having some time off in the fall and winter before gearing up for the new season but I really didn't take much time to draw back.  Whether that's good or bad, you know, I just -- I always like to look forward.

Q.  Jordan, mostly after that second round last year you blamed your putting for missing the cut.
You also were in the same group with Matt Kuchar.  You said you picked up some things from him.
Can you talk about that specifically what you saw from him that day and not giving up on holes that you were able to apply for the rest of your season?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  It's tough to think back with all the rounds I've played and the rounds I've even played with Matt since then.  We've been paired together quite a bit.
If I remember correctly I was striking the ball maybe better than Matt was the first couple rounds.  I was striking the ball great.  I was giving myself a lot of opportunities.
He put it in the right spots.  He was blow the holes.  He would hit chip shots at worse case four feet below the holes and made each one of them.
He plodded his way around the golf course better and I was sitting there firing at pins because I was confident in the way I was swinging but, at the same time, I wasn't -- when I was giving myself looks they maybe weren't the best looks.  I was above the holes and out here it's slick on these greens.
So, if I had -- if I was putting, you know, kind of like I'm putting now or this year, it would have been a different story that day but it was just a really, really off day.  One of the worse days that I had all year putting-wise.  And it's just kind of a shame I was hitting the ball well enough that it happened that way.
Yeah, watching Matt and Rory both just -- they were just -- they were thinking a lot better game than I was.  They were plodding it around and putting the ball in the right spots, having the right angles into the greens.  When they missed the greens they were able to get up and down because the shots they had for the most part were basic shots that they left themselves.

Q.  Players who have done well here typically the key stat is total driving.  They're very high up in total driving, the stat for this golf course.
When you do drive the ball well here, can you get kind of a false sense of security, kind of goes back to what you said last year was happening because you weren't making the putts?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Maybe.  I wouldn't say you get a false sense of security but you definitely still need to sit back and really focus on that next shot because the greens are tricky.
Mr. Norman does a pretty phenomenal job in making the course as difficult as possible tee to green.
Yes, driving the ball is definitely I think a huge emphasis here but I put a huge emphasis on it.  Ultimately those second shots -- some greens slope away from you, you got to strike the ball pure and come out of the fairway to be able to just stop it in the right spots.
But then when it comes down to putting, it was just short putting.  I don't think the greens -- the greens aren't -- you know, there's not too many tiers, they're not overly tricky, subtle breaks and they're in perfect shape so you should be able to make putts.
I was just struggling mentally on the short putting.  I don't think it was -- I don't think that that's a part of this golf course that will kill you.  I think it's driving the ball, keeping the ball in play.  The rough is a little shorter this year so you can get away with maybe being off the fairway as long as you're just barely off but you got to be really smart about where to hit into the greens.
After playing Augusta a couple times, it is really good preparation for it as far as the second shots, the angles coming in and what ball flights you need to play.

Q.  Just lastly here, you're playing with Phil who is kind of the same situation last year with Rory.  He's coming in last second to try to get his game ready for Augusta.
I don't know how much you've been following Phil's game.  Do you sense that he may be kind of pressing to get ready for Augusta and he's coming to a course that he doesn't think he may like very well from what he's heard.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  I don't know.  I haven't really followed much this year.  You know, Phil is the type of player it doesn't really matter necessarily how he starts a season.  He's going to have a great season.  Obviously, he has 42 wins?  That's a lot.
So, you know, one week he may be off, the next week he could win by five shots.  So, you know, if he believes that this is a way to prep for Augusta, then I'm sure he's done his research and knows that he may come out here to try and get himself driving the ball well.
Maybe that's the best way to do it is to get on the course in a tournament setting and to obviously try and win the golf tournament.  But if he's considering it a prep for Augusta it's maybe to work on a certain part of his game.
There's no doubt this course and next week are great, great courses to be ready for Augusta but ultimately, you know, I'm excited to play with him.  It will be will be a fun round.  The same with Martin who I have not played with yet.  Maybe both of us can learn something from Martin about this golf course.

Q.  Jordan, speaking of Augusta, you mentioned you've been there.  How many rounds did you play and what other preparations have you made for the Masters?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I've been on two different trips, one in October and one a couple weeks ago before Doral.
I played three rounds total on it and as far as other preparations, you know, nothing out of the ordinary.  It's just another week.  I'm very, very excited for this stretch coming up here, couple Texas ones and Augusta.
It's the stretch I've been looking forward to since the beginning of the year.  Obviously the first Masters but also to start in the home state getting ready for it and it's a great way to getting confidence, I think, to kind of feel the support of the fans as well as playing on very difficult golf courses, getting your game ready.
But I haven't done anything else out of the ordinary.  I mean physically, you know, with my trainer we work on certain peaks in what we're doing and that's around the Masters as well as trying to get my swing and the certain shots around the greens that you need at Augusta which you also need out here because they try to make the grass types as similar as can be and it's pure.
So, it's more around the greens work than anything golf-related.

Q.  Jordan, lot of people said some pretty nice things about you.  You've been called the next great American golfer, the next great American star.  You've been called the next Tiger and Phil.
What do you think when you hear those types of comments?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I don't really hear those comments, to be honest.  I very rarely will ever watch or read anything that's -- I just don't think that it's good or bad for me.  I just don't see the need for it.
There's a lot of great young American players that have won more times than I have out here.  So, between Patrick, Russell, those guys have been in the winner's circle more than I have.  Given they are a little older, maybe I have a few more events.
They've been able to do it and so, ultimately, I'm just focused on week to week, where is my game at, how can it be ready when Saturday, Sunday come along and I have a chance to win, to pull it off and more times than not I've been in the position and haven't pulled it off but it's coming and I feel very, very confident that if I get into contention again I'll be able to handle it better and better each time and should have a better chance to win each time.
Unfortunately that's all I'm focused on.  I'm not focused on anything outside of that.

Q.  They also talk about your poise at such a young age.  I read something about you may kind of attribute some of that to your sister, Ellie.  If you could just briefly talk about that and how it's impacted you.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  I mean my sister is kind of the reason our family, I think, is very grounded.

Q.  Name is Ellie.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Ellie.  Yeah, she's actually going to be down here this week, one of the couple events to watch all year, which is really cool.
It's awesome anytime she's out here but I don't know if -- I definitely don't think that she would make me anymore poised.  I think that that would actually bring the opposite out of me.  But definitely patience and humility.  Puts things in perspective.
She's getting better and better each day.

Q.  She has --
JORDAN SPIETH:  She has special needs.  Yeah.  She's somewhere on the autistic spectrum but not diagnosed.  So she's -- yeah, special needs.
DAVE SENKO:  Okay.  Anymore questions?  Any of our First Tee Kids in the back have a question?

Q.  My name is Pia. I'm with The First Tee.
My question is, Jordan, you've played in many big named tournaments and it's really great to have you back in Texas.  You're a huge role model to many young golfers.
I was wondering if you have any advice to young golfers who want to make it big, just like you?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Thank you very much.
You know, I think my advice is to not -- you got to just find a group of friends that you love to play golf with.  I mean when I was growing up I think the reason I learned to love the game so much is because I wasn't pushed to play.
My dad never pushed me.  Anything he ever -- he never pushed me, really, at anything.  Anything he would I probably would have been turned away from it, but he was just very supportive.  Both my parents were.
But I found a group of guys that I love to play with at the club and just mess around from when we were 10 to 16, or wherever we're playing.
If you find a group of friends and you just learn competition and getting out there and having fun with each other, I think that's the most important thing.
I think playing a lot of golf is more important when you're younger than being a range rat.  Some people like hitting balls on the range for multiple hours and it's necessary at times, but I think getting out there and playing is the best way to learn to really enjoy the game, learn how to score and, you know, have fun with your friends.

Q.  Real quick here, yeah.  Were you born and raised in Austin?

Q.  You went to UT.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Went to UT.  Now I'm back in Dallas.

Q.  You played here two years ago as an amateur?
JORDAN SPIETH:  In college.
Q.  Did this kind of propel you, did you turn pro pretty soon after that?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I turned pro in December.  What is that, nine months after?  Yeah.  I want to say at the time it was my fourth or fifth start as a pro.  I had 8 before I turned pro -- I mean fourth or fifth start as an amateur.  I played in 8 events as an amateur before turning pro.
I played well.  Had a great experience.  Made the cut.  Got to the Top-5 I think on Saturday at one point and fell off and finished down the list, but it was a great experience here.
DAVE SENKO:  Okay.  Thanks Jordan.

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