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May 10, 2014

Jordan Spieth


CHRIS REIMER:  Jordan Spieth, welcome, tied for the third round lead here at THE PLAYERS Championship.  Just talk about being in the final group again heading into Sunday.
JORDAN SPIETH:  I'm very excited.  This is a position I wanted to get into in another big tournament.  Augusta left me feeling a little hungry for it again, and here we are, and I have an opportunity to kind of really draw back on that round and the positives, the negatives and everything in between and go out there tomorrow and try and play the same way I played the first two rounds, and not exactly today, but I got some good bounces today.
I'm very excited about being paired with Martin again.  Great guy, class act.  I had not played with him or really met him prior to today.  He was rooting for me, which is what you'd expect from pretty much everybody out here, but he's just a great guy, and I had an awesome time playing with him, and looking forward to battling it out tomorrow with, obviously, a past champion in Sergio and John Senden who won earlier this year, so guys that have had success.
We're going to have to shoot a lower round than we did today.

Q.  Ball‑striking toward the latter end of the round wasn't quite up to your standards, particularly with the driver.  Can you walk us through 14 and 16 in particular where you were kind of wayward?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  I hit a shot on 13 with a 6‑iron, and there was no reason for me to not be comfortable with it.  I had the same shot the first two rounds on that hole.
But I kind of bailed a little on it, and it left me, I think, my alignment, a little off.  My feet and shoulders weren't matched up right where I wanted them to be, and therefore I wasn't‑‑ I was passively going through the ball.  I wasn't being aggressive through it the way I have been the first, whatever, 50 holes.  I think that was kind of the issue there.
I let a drive go on the next hole, because I'd hit a couple left earlier with my driver.  They just curved too much.
So whatever it is, I think it's just alignment.  My swing is still where I need to be.  I was just looking for something.
16, I tried to hammer a low draw around, and it overdid it.  Fortunate to come out of those holes with pars.
Kind of earned my par, I guess, on 14, and then on 16 I got pretty lucky my ball to split between two trees there to where I had a shot to lay up and had a tough up‑and‑down.
Yeah, just got a little off really all day today, didn't feel as comfortable as yesterday, but that's going to happen in a four‑round stretch at times, and hopefully when we start tomorrow it's back to the way it was.

Q.  During that kind of squirrelly stretch, what, in your mind, was kind of the most clutch par save that you had in there?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Oh, I think the hybrid on 14 was probably the best shot I've hit here this week.  That was a really tough stance.  I didn't think I could get enough on it to even get it to the green, and there was a lot of numbers that came into play on that shot.  I could have made 7 or 8 there, if the rough turns it over.  But we just said, a hybrid is probably going to go through that better than a long iron, and if I miss it, miss it right and short, and that's where I can get up‑and‑down from.
But that's not an ideal position.  I didn't even know there was water over there, and it's pretty far over there, and I was close to it.
To get that up into the bunker and then caught a good lie, so I was able to just kind of flop it out and make the three, four‑footer, that was probably the most clutch, probably the biggest chance until 18 that I had of making a bogey.

Q.  What about 15?  What did you hit on 15, and did you have trouble on that?
JORDAN SPIETH:  You know, I hit it over to the left, and I was standing on a sprinkler head, which allowed me to drop my ball further to the right, to then get out of the line of the trees.  Before that I would have probably just had to punch a 7‑ or 8‑iron and try to run it up, and instead I got to drop it and I had a line to hit a little draw.  I had a 52‑degree.  I had 140, but 128 to the front, and I was just trying to hook it enough to get it to either bounce up or to land on and roll to the back of the green.
If I hit it another 20 times I don't think I could have gotten it any closer to the hole.  It was a very nice bounce, but it was nice to have a wedge and be able to hit it higher in the air then try to run something up with how firm it's getting.

Q.  What kind of score do you think it will take tomorrow?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I'm going to have to shoot a few under, no doubt about it.  I think that Martin is striking the ball extremely well, and he got some tough breaks today, there's no doubt.  He had some balls land right next to the hole and uncharacteristically bounce very far past.  So I think he's going to be on his game tomorrow.  I've got to expect that.
Sergio always does it here and most places.
I don't have a number in mind, but I'm going to get out on the range and see what it feels like and try and see what it might take.

Q.  Can you put into context what it's like to go this many holes without a bogey, not only here but even stretching back to your last tournament?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I mean, it's very difficult.  It requires good short putting, a good feel around the greens, good lies and good bounces, a mix of all of that.  I don't think I've really ever done that in tournament, even going back to junior days of three‑round events that you'd shoot 12, 13‑under I don't think, that I've done that.
It gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow around the greens.  I've been leaving it in the right spots.  We've been thinking through shots.  Other than 18, where we pulled the wrong club off the tee, each shot has been chosen to where, if I miss it, I'm missing it in a place where I can get up‑and‑down.
So that's just going to be the game plan tomorrow, and if I can play out of a few more fairways it would be nice so I can go at a couple more pins.

Q.  On, I think it was 14, 15, 16 and 18, you really got to be near the crowd because you were so far off the fairway‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH:  Thanks for putting that lightly.

Q.  Did you sense that they want you to win and you're kind of their favorite?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, you know, to be honest with you, with how great of a guy Martin is, I wish it didn't feel as much like a Ryder Cup, and that's really kind of what it felt like out there, which is great.  I think that's only going to help me to have momentum with the crowd behind me.
Everyone has been very respectful to Martin, but they've definitely been partial, which I guess is what Phil deals with on a daily basis and quite a few other guys.
Yeah, I definitely noticed it today more than I think I ever have playing with somebody.  Augusta was‑‑ I felt like everybody was even with me and Bubba.  Tomorrow it'll be nice.  Hopefully we'll get out there and give them something to cheer for and try and gain momentum off of the fans who have been so special here.

Q.  You had the putt hang right on the lip I believe on No.2.  No.10, it just looked like you hit the putt you wanted maybe a little too firm and it bounced out of the cup.  Could you just talk about how you just can't allow things like that to kind of rattle or get you a little bit off, because that could have happened?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, it was tough.  Even a few months ago I'd say that my patience would have produced a different score.  I think the experiences over the last couple months and really working hard with my instructor through the mental game, along with talking a lot with Michael, and Michael has been very helpful to me in what he thinks and how he sees me speed up or I'm walking faster, I'm changing routines or whatever, I think that hard work has started to pay off in that position.
Today it took me a while to get the speed of the greens down because they felt like they were a lot firmer and they felt like they were getting crusty, so they'd be faster, and then I left it short to start the hole, left almost every putt that was a makeable putt short through nine holes, and then I finally get to 10 and I just ram it too hard.
I just needed a mix of that.  And 11 I got it to fall finally.

Q.  Was the shot at 13 as difficult as it looked?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's not easy.  It's not fun.  The water doesn't come into play as much.  It doesn't come into play‑‑

Q.  I am talking about your second shot.
JORDAN SPIETH:  I caught a pretty good lie over on the edge of the fringe and rough, and looking back it's a lot more difficult than I thought it was at the time.  At the time I had enough wind coming into me, I thought I could hit kind of a low, one‑hop and check on that slope and it wouldn't release too fast, and that's pretty much the shot I hit on the line I wanted to.  But then it just kept on picking up speed.
I wasn't upset at the outcome there.  I think it was a really good break to hit the pin.  If the pin was out, I don't know if it could have gone in.  I think it was moving too fast.  But it was a very difficult shot, looking back.  I didn't think it was at the time, so luckily the pin helped me out.  Pins tend to help me out sometimes.

Q.  Martin thought tomorrow might be like a Ryder Cup match played in America.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, that's something I thought about.  Today I didn't think about it at all, and I think tomorrow it'll be tough for me to really almost pick a number.  I think tomorrow is a day I need to do that and really focus on that, and if Martin is 5‑, 6‑under, then I may have to adjust my strategy.  If we get a couple birdies early, that's what it's going to feel like, and I'm going to really need to stay focused on the fact that you need to pick your spots.
If Martin makes a couple birdies here, then you can make them there.  You don't have to do it on the same hole, which match play kind of makes you feel like.  It'll be something that I'm going to need to really be aware of and pick a different game plan.

Q.  You talked about the mental game.  Just how important mentally was making the putt at 18?  You had a lot riding on it in terms of the bogey, getting in a tie for the lead.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Very.  For me seeing a putt go in, for whatever reason, good or bad, it does a lot for me mentally and how I feel with my putter looking down and just the confidence that I have.
Other than 11, I didn't see one go in from more than three, four feet, and I even missed one of those.  I was struggling to really find that stroke, and with a bogey‑free streak on the line and the nerves of the 18th hole, it was really big for me to put a good stroke on it and see it roll true and go in.
My emotions were just what came out of me from the struggles of the last five, six holes and just getting in at even.  But I think carrying that into tomorrow, I can have that image of that putt going in, knowing I made a putt, not only on that green, but as the last putt of the day, and I'll get on the practice green tomorrow and really go through the same routine I did today.
I thought I had it.  I thought I had a great‑‑ a lot of confidence going into the first hole.  It just stopped just short on 2 and 9 and whatever else.  I think that maybe led me to get away from my normal confidence level with my putter.

Q.  Martin was in this room a little while ago and he was asked a few times about how impressed he was with your game, so I'll ask you the same question about him.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, extremely impressed.  The ball, he seems to have different levels of how fast he goes after it, even to the driver, and they seem to all just come off right on line.  He hits the ball straight as an arrow.  That's kind of nice.
Really good putting stroke.
What I'm most impressed with, what's something that I can look at and see as a role model I think is the way that he approaches the game.  He was out there truly having fun.  He came up to me after I missed the putt on 10 and we were walking down the fairway at 11, he's like, just don't worry about it, just have some fun, this is where you want to be, which was really cool for him to come up and say that at the time.
He did get to a couple‑shot lead at the time, so maybe that made him happier, but it was just‑‑ it was really nice for him to do that in the setting that we were in, and it just seemed like whatever break he had, it didn't faze him whatsoever.  If anything he just‑‑ if it went his way, then he was happy with that.
But it just didn't seem like‑‑ especially with the crowd on 18, which I wish didn't happen, when he missed his putt there were some cheers, and like you said, a Ryder Cup.  He handled it gratefully, just a class act, took his hat off, smiled, we were saying how much we enjoyed playing with each other and we'll enjoy it tomorrow.
His approach to the game with the experience I guess that he has of ups and downs, mainly ups, was really impressive and something that I could strive to have.

Q.  The shot under the trees on 18, what was the thought process there?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, I had an opening.  That rough is pretty thick over there.  I didn't realize it was that thick.  But I hit the shot over there.  It was buried down.  I had a 5‑iron in my hands trying to just punch it up there straight at the hole, and then sometimes when you're in that thick a rough and you swing hard enough, it's a little upslope, sometimes a ball can just kind of pop up as a little knuckle ball up in the air, so I went back to a 4‑iron, and I tried to stay down through it.  With the safe play, the shot that I hit was kind of what I expected to happen, and if it popped up, it would have gotten to the green, it would have carried a little further and rolled onto the green.
I played more the conservative route there I guess on the second shot and then tried to play the conservative route on the third in landing it below the second tier, landing it down on the bottom tier and try and run it up.  Fortunately, I got it into a position below the hole to make the putt.

Q.  So much gets talked about, about the way you go about emotions over the course of a round.  I'm just curious if you had the demeanor of Retief Goosen, would you be closer to shooting 60 or 80?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Probably about the‑‑ I don't think it changed much.  I think that there's a lot of positives in the emotion I have, and I think that now there's just a few places to clean it up.  I think that there is something to‑‑ you see Tiger, and he shows emotion.  When he makes a huge putt, I mean, he gives a big fist pump.  He has always.  It's the Tiger fist pump.
You know, Phil shows emotion a little less maybe, but still has it.  The great players in the game right now, and Retief is one of them, I think use emotion positively.  I think it helps them, and I think that you've just got to do‑‑ you've got to be yourself out there.  There are ways to clean it up when things aren't going your way, and that's what I'm learning how to do.  But I wouldn't change the way that I'm approaching mentally or my emotions at all.

Q.  Have you ever found yourself even going back to junior days to getting so excited when things are going well that you had to amp down?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I've had it out here on TOUR.  Going back to junior days, I wasn't good at calming down.  I was a little more‑‑ believe it or not, I'm extremely level‑headed compared to where I was in junior days with my emotions.  I've gotten a lot more neutral, which may be hard to believe.  Yeah, I mean, there are definitely times where you have to pump the brakes, and I think that I know when to realize that now, and I don't think I did back then.

Q.  Thinking back to the final round at Augusta, what are the kind of bullet points you'll think about tonight as far as what you did right and what you did wrong?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I'll look back at my preparation for it, kind of the routine I went to before the round, and sticking to what I did today.  I mean, there's just‑‑ really what I can draw from is going to be the different ways of handling the nerves, like where my tendencies are on my swing, where I strike it, the ball flights that come out when I'm really amped up, and that's stuff that I know what it does, and I keep it to myself.  I can look back on Augusta just on a couple great shots and a couple shots that didn't go my way, and I know why.
Hopefully, tomorrow, if presented the opportunity, then maybe I won't bleed it in too far to the hole.  Maybe I'll stick to my lines.

Q.  On 17 it looked like after you hit the shot (inaudible) what was that about?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It was a good number.  It was 125 a little down breeze, and my gap wedge goes 125 with a good, full shot, but the shot is playing 15 to 20.  I flew that gap wedge yesterday like 35 or so, and that's too much.  You don't really want to have to dial down a club on 17.  You want to hit less club and just swing really hard.  But I had to kind of take a little off of it, and while doing that hit it just a touch skinny, just hit it a groove too low, and that's not a good feeling on 17.
Fortunately, whatever wind was up there didn't knock it down, it carried it, and it carried by a good three, four paces.  I had some room.
CHRIS REIMER:  Good luck tomorrow.  Thanks for coming in.

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