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April 16, 2014

Jordan Spieth


JOE CHEMYCZ:  Welcome, Jordan Spieth, to the interview room.  Jordan, as we all know, finished tied for second at the Masters last week, and top 10 in the World Rankings.  First American to ever crack the top 10.  And last year at this tournament was tied for 9th a year ago.  I suppose start first with the whirlwind that was last week, and your thoughts about that, and getting ready to turnaround and play this event.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, I'm very excited about last week, obviously.  It was a complete team effort from the beginning to the year on.  I've been talking about it to you guys that the majors were the huge emphasis of mine, for what they were World Ranking‑wise, Ryder Cup‑wise, and legacy; that's why we play the game professionally, is to win Major championships.
From trainer to swing coach to managers to my family, everything this year has been geared to compete last week, and really for this stretch.  And we have certain peaks throughout the year that we want to emphasize on how my body needs to be ready, my swing needs to be ready for those moments.  And a lot going in that could add pressure to it.
But all in all everybody stepped up and delivered the best that they could.  And allowed Michael and I to get out there without any stress and full confidence and really play the best golf of my life.  And that's extremely exciting going forward to know that the team that we have, we all pretty much work together and are interlinked parts that kind of feed off of each other to allow for a week like last week to happen.  Because it's not me, it encompasses everyone on the team, and I feel like I took care of my part.  I feel like everybody else won, and I finished second.  Maybe I failed you guys a little bit.
It was a dream‑come‑true week for me.  What it did was going in, yes, I would have been pleased with runner‑up at the Masters the first time there, knowing how tough that golf course is to play the first time you play it.  But given the fact that I was leading a golf tournament and not thinking about where I was or what it could mean at the end, which I didn't, it definitely left me stinging.  And it definitely left me hungry and ready to play golf again, which I get to do tomorrow.  And ready to eventually get back there again, which is, I think, the only way to kind of redeem myself and to get rid of that will eventually have to be at Augusta.
So very excited, but at the same time a little bit bittersweet to come that close, and I truly believe that I'll be back.

Q.  Did you think about, I don't know, taking this week off, pulling out, just because of what you went through last week and how difficult it was?
JORDAN SPIETH:  No, not for one second.  The whole plan was to drive over here, and I left Monday midday to head on here to one of my favorite stops of the year.

Q.  While at Augusta did you talk to another famous Texan, Ben Crenshaw?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, definitely, I met and did actually a piece with Mr. Crenshaw the week before San Antonio, I want to say that was three weeks before the Masters weekend.  And I exchanged texts, I went to dinner with the Texas golf team and he was there Sunday night before the Masters.  And then we were supposed to play Monday, we got rained out, along with Mr. Watson, who I get to play with this week, which would have been a pretty cool pairing at Augusta to play with those two.
And, yeah, got to talk with Mr. Crenshaw here and there, who obviously understands not only about Augusta but understands the subtleties of designs on golf courses, obviously, being one of the greatest or maybe the best right now, the most sought after designers in the world.
And my caddie was able to talk with Carl Jackson quite a bit, Mr. Crenshaw's long time caddie there.  That was a really cool experience for both of us.

Q.  Do you go back in your mind if you had a mulligan last Sunday, fourth round, where would it have come?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Just probably on No. 12, just committing to the line.  I let the 20‑year‑old inside of me just barely slip out.  I held it in so long of playing safe, and I hate having 9‑iron and not being able to go to pin.  And we picked a spot and I got over the ball, felt like there was no wind or, if anything, a touch of help, which is what that hole does to you.  And there was a little hurt there.  So I just tried to bleed it towards the hole, it got held up‑‑ I have not watched it, I imagine it couldn't have been more than a yard or two from being 12 feet from the hole, 15 feet from the hole, but instead I was struggling to try to make bogey.
I would say out of the whole round that was it.  8 and 9 I hit pretty decent shots up there.  8 was shocking that it didn't release on my chip shot.  And 9 just barely missed it, and it was another yard or two climbing up that ridge and having even a shorter puttfor birdie.  I don't regret those two shots at all.  
I think the whole day it would really have to be 12.  And that's what that course does.  Bubba pulled away from me, but I felt like there was only a couple of swings the whole day that I missed.

Q.  Is 12 the one you relived in your mind?
JORDAN SPIETH:  No, I haven't relived anything in my mind.  Again, I've looked back with all positives.  I mean, I've played that hole probably eight or nine times, maybe ten times now, and I've hit it in the water a couple of times.  And I've also made birdie a couple of times on my practice rounds and whatnot.
No, there's nothing that's haunting me from last week.  I feel like I played really well to not shoot an over‑par round on that course and not make more than a bogey for four days the way that course was playing.
So although that shot was very close and maybe really created separation, ultimately it's not something that I'm drawing on.

Q.  How would you describe your emotions on the back nine on Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I was having a great time.  I was having a blast.  It was very, very nerve‑wracking.  It was the whole day.  They didn't change on the back nine from the front nine.  In fact, I was probably most nervous on 5, 6, 7, and I went bogey, birdie, birdie there.  Once the bunker shot went in, I knew I was in the lead on a couple.  That's when it got nerve‑wracking.  From there actually started to settle down once I got to 7.
6 was pretty nerve‑wracking, and the back nine felt about the same.  It really was just the shot on 9 and 12, it was just a couple of yards here and there, a putt goes in versus a putt not going in, and I could be having a green jacket, which is really, really cool to think about.

Q.  You mentioned the rained‑out practice round with Watson and Crenshaw.  Your thoughts on getting a chance to play some tournament rounds now with Watson, one of the all‑time greats, also the Ryder Cup captain, as well?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I'm very excited.  Obviously I've watched his highlights for a long time.  I've seen him play some golf on the Champions Tour here and there and played very successfully there.  And obviously with my assistant captain, Davis, from last year, this is a really exciting pairing for me.  It's one I didn't necessarily expect coming in.  And, yeah, I think that with a couple of the great veterans and really legends of the game, anytime you get a chance to play with those kind of guys it really is a humbling experience for me, and one that hopefully I can talk to both of them about different things, whether it's the Masters from last week and them in Major championships and how they handled certain things after, and whatnot, or whether it's just about the round and going forward.
But obviously a huge goal of mine has always been, my whole life, to make a Ryder Cup team.  So playing with the captain, I'm sure there will be some extra nerves there trying to impress him.

Q.  What sort of relationship have you had, say, social media‑wise with Tom?  The second part of the question, what sort of memory do you have of Tom's career?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Social media‑wise, I don't think we've really connected much.  He's been incredible to me.  He's been just a class act, as he always is.  When I've talked with him or walked by and said hi.  But I go back to obviously I think the most famous shot he ever hit which was that chip‑in from 17 at Pebble Beach.  I'm sure he hit plenty that were pretty memorable.  But that one is replayed a lot, as well as watching him at the Open a few years ago.  I know Stewart Cink, being such a great guy, makes that harder, because I know that a lot of people wanted to see Tom win it, that amazing feat.
But, yeah, I'm just very excited about joining him for a couple of days here, and talking about the year with him and trying to make this team.

Q.  You said this is one of your favorite Tour stops already.  Do you say that at every Tour stop (laughter)?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I don't.  I typically say it at the ones I play good.  This is a fantastic golf course; you have to be a shot maker off the tee.  You have to be able to hit straight balls into the greens.  They're just so small‑‑ the greens are just so drastically different from last week, it's amazing.
And obviously with the wet conditions, that changes things, as well.  But it looks like we're going to get quite a bit of wind tomorrow and just kind of some interesting stuff going on with week with the weather.  So that should add some drama to the week.
No, I think the way this tournament is held, the whole atmosphere, the cool lighthouse, the signature holes, and the overall design and just feel of Hilton Head Island is special.  I like playing golf here.

Q.  You were talking about getting ready to peak last week and all you did.  Is that different than the way you prepared this year for something like that?  How detailed do you get into your preparation that way?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I would say, yes, I would say that‑‑ are you saying is that different from years past in trying to peak for certain events?

Q.  Yeah, making a plan to peak for the Masters.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, that was new.  Last year I didn't have any status, and I really didn't know where I was going week to week for a lot of the year.  So that made it a little more difficult to really plan for those things, especially the Major championships that I was in.  Only the PGA did I know more than really the week before.
So the preparation that goes into it, I mean there's a lot.  Everybody needs to be on the same page.  It's pretty detailed within each aspect, whether it's what I'm doing fitness‑wise, what I'm doing with my swing, and what we're working on as far as getting everything set up before the tournament starts at the venue, making sure we're as comfortable as we can be when we get there, and setting up practice rounds and making sure that all it comes down to is golf.
I don't really know if it's a great idea to get any kind of details, we're there for the Masters, it's kind of within our team.

Q.  After your round on Sunday, what did you do Sunday night and on Monday?  What did you eat?  Who did you speak with?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I just went back to the house.  I rented a house and my manager had a house right down the street that was‑‑ had a lot of family in town and friends.  And just wanted to hang out with them and just kind of soak in the week.  Although I did that in between rounds, as well, I wasn't able to kind of really have the full experience of just seeing everybody.  I tried to stay away from talking golf and kind of stay away from the tournament.  Sunday night was just kind of encompassing and thanking everybody for being there and supporting me.  It meant a lot to me to have close family and family friends out there.
So we went back and had some dinner back at Jay's house.  And just played some ping‑pong, pool, hung out for the night.  After the media and everything, when we got away from the golf course it was pretty late.  We just slept in.  Everybody was kind of heading home Monday morning and we headed here.

Q.  Going way back, do you remember the first tournament you ever won as a kid?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I do.  It was a Young Guns Junior Golf Tour is what it used to be called in Dallas.  I played three of them that year.  And the first one I went down to 18 with a couple‑stroke lead and the guy made a birdie, I made double, I think, to lose.  And so the next‑‑ a couple of weeks later I played another one, and I was still playing really well and I ended up winning that one.  It was at I think West Ridge is what the club is called.  They used to give out the trophies that were taller than I was at the time.  I think I was nine or ten years old, maybe 11 years old.  And I think that was the first tournament that I can remember winning that was like a full, you know, two‑day event.

Q.  When you started to show that you were really good at golf, can you talk about how your parents dealt with encouraging you without overwhelming you or how they treated that?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, my mom played college basketball, dad was college baseball.  There wasn't really a golf background.  No matter what I was going to choose, they never were going to push me.  The only thing that was anywhere near that was my dad really wanting me to learn how to sit down and set goals.  And I wish that I had written them down somewhere, like he always told me to do.  I kind of created them in my head.  And I wish I could go back and just look at what I was writing down then.  I created kind of ones in my head that I would talk to him about.
But I was never pushed.  I was the one that would walk into my parents' bedroom on Saturday morning when it was probably 8:00, 8:30 and ask my mom to take me to the course, because I found out my friends were going up there to play in the summertime.  And I think that was a huge key to me falling in love with the game.
I think that everybody's personality is different but with mine, if I was pushed, I don't feel like I would have really loved it as much as I do.  And I learned to love it through playing with my peers at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas and just being out there day in and day out, just practicing, playing, playing games.  They were all a little older than me.  It was just a good time.  It's fun to draw back on those memories sometimes, and I still talk to the same guys I was playing with back when I was 10, 11 years old.
That's kind of I think what's led me to really want to go out every day and work hard to get better at the game.

Q.  There was a lot made Sunday of the young fans reacting on the golf course, and people saying there's some transition to a new, young player.  Do you feel any responsibility to be that guy, the face of the young fan in golf?
JORDAN SPIETH:  No, I don't think so.  I think it's just‑‑ I wish that Tiger was there.  I wish that Tiger was a hundred percent.  I think that as he is still ranked No.1 in the world right now, I think he is the best player in the world right now when he is on the top of his game.  And in order to feel like I can reach a goal one day of becoming No.1 in the world, I feel like I'd like to see him come back stronger than ever, and I think that he will.
I think that this was the right move.  And although we missed him at the Masters, and I think we all would have liked to see him there, I don't think that‑‑ I don't put that on myself at all.  To answer your question, no.  I go week to week, and don't put any kind of extra expectation on myself, other than just standing on the tee box and trying to make a birdie on that hole, and that's about it.
That's all it comes down to.  Any off‑the‑course stuff is having fun and getting away from the game for the rest of that day.  And especially now with a little change in exposure, you're trying not to read, watch or do anything on myself.

Q.  Your Pro Am round today, was there a deeper kind of a level of support, I guess, of congratulations after your performance at the Masters?  And is it something that you expect to continue throughout the week?
JORDAN SPIETH:  To be honest, since I've gotten here from fans, my partners and other players at this event it's amazing.  I've never been congratulated‑‑ Michael was telling me, my caddie, was like, man, I've never seen somebody get so many congratulations for losing (laughter).   And he's right.
So, yeah, it is very nice to see‑‑ and it's amazing just walking around, being in different places that are not on a golf course and being recognized more just to know that the Masters is more than just a golf tournament and it appeals to more than just the standard golf fan.  And I think it's really cool.  That's why I love that tournament so much because even all my friends back in the day that didn't even like golf or care much for golf, always wanted to watch the Masters and would talk to me about it and whatnot.
Yeah, it's great.  And there is definitely a higher level of it this week.  I think it's very nice.  Hopefully it can create some more noise this weekend.

Q.  Can I add my congratulations for last week.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Thank you.

Q.  Obviously you have no Ryder Cup baggage.  Do you have any views on the sort of challenge you would be facing?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I do, because I played a junior cup at Gleneagles, the Ryder Cup is being played on the same golf.  When the Ryder Cup was at Celtic Manor.  And most importantly I played a Walker Cup in Scotland.  And that's as similar as you can get leading up to professional golf, as far as the fans over there who are obviously very respectful but pulling very hard for the other side.  And when you make a putt, only hearing a few cheers from the Americans.
It was a similar vibe.  And I've been, actuallyI played in a couple of junior Ryder Cups.  I went to the first days of the Valhalla Ryder Cup and the Celtic Manor Ryder Cup, so I've been there for the tournament and seen what it's like and I remember it.  And I think it's cool.  I think that playing a Ryder Cup over there would be so incredible to try, and no offense, quiet the crowds, and just what you guys did over here a couple of years ago.
I have a little bit of experience, not a lot, but I would love to have that opportunity this year.
JOE CHEMYCZ:  Jordan, thank you for your time.

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