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May 14, 2014

Jordan Spieth


THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started.  We would like to welcome Jordan Spieth into the interview room here at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.  He's making his fourth start at this event and his best finish was a T‑16 in 2010.  Jordan, welcome back to the Byron Nelson.  If we can just get your thoughts on how important this week is for you.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, before all of it, I have a quick announcement to make that this week got even more exciting for me now because I've got a new partnership with AT&T, obviously a local brand here‑‑ local in Dallas but such an incredible supporter of the game of golf at the biggest stages.  It's going to be a great partnership going forward to wanted to announce it here and I'm glad that we got it done and we're ready to go and we're going to be good for one another.

Q.  Great.  Talk about being back.
JORDAN SPIETH:  It was a great start to the week, good to be back here on property.  Got out to the course yesterday and it's in great shape as always.  I love just the whole setting.  I played six or seven‑‑ seven holes yesterday, 18 today, saw the‑‑ played the last three holes, in the grand stands, just bringing back great memories, going all the way back even before my first year here, four years ago.  It's a tournament that's special to me, close to my heart and one that I put pressure on myself to play well in and I feel like I'm doing well right now and would love for nothing better than a great week this week.

Q.  Jordan, you reflect back to when you were a 16 year old kid and get to play here for the first time and I know it's only been four years, but talk about what you wanted to accomplish and how you see things going from then to now.
JORDAN SPIETH:  Back then I didn't have any expectations going in.  I really didn't know what to expect.  I knew I was going to have incredible support, which was going to help carry me through it, but, you know, making the cut would have been cool and I know I was talking about back then trying to win the tournament, which is true.  Once the weekend came and played well on Saturday and somehow got my way into contention, you know, that was a huge‑‑ this tournament I owe a lot in my career thus far for this golf tournament and those first couple of starts that I was given to gain the confidence of knowing that I can come out and make cuts and really compete even at a young age, at a TOUR event.  Obviously I played a couple of others and missed a couple of cuts and played well in a couple of others.
I wasn't ready at the time obviously to travel and play week‑to‑week but I at least knew I was on the right track and the game plan and the way our team was working, it was working well.
At the time I think‑‑ I thought that this is what I wanted to do for a living and that I could do it, and then after really the week when I was 16 and 17 here, kind of put an exclamation point on it that this is possible.  I had been able to test my game against those guys and play well on a course that I really don't‑‑ I'm not here very often.  It's not like it's a home course for me.  So I approached it like it was another golf tournament back then and it was very exciting.

Q.  Jordan, kind of similar to what Hawk was saying, when you think back to 2010, and all that has happened in your career does it seem like that was a long time ago, or does it seem like it's been a flash, its just all going by in a blur?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It does seem like a long time ago and I was working out this morning and on the TV it showed a flashback from 2010 and I looked like I was 9 years old.  It was funny.  (Laughter.)
So it feels like it was quite a while ago.  There's been a lot that's gone on in my golf life since then.  I don't think‑‑ it definitely doesn't seem like yesterday.  It seems like it was years and years and years ago, a different life almost.

Q.  Jordan, you started on the NTPGA TOUR and shepherded, too, if you look back at your first event, there are a bunch of players now who played in that way back when.  Is that ant coincidence or how much does NTPGA help you as you developed?
JORDAN SPIETH:  A bunch.  The NTPGA is what got me started in golf and even meeting friends that I even still have to this day, back when I was 9‑10 years old.  Anthony Paolucci, great player, plays for USC and he'll be professional soon, he was the best and we battled it out starting there and through college.  I'm sure we will soon again.  So it's funny, looking back on some of the juniors back then and how you just kind of grow your love for the game through that environment.  It's such a great organization run by some great people.
I think that it's only growing here in north Texas, which is awesome, and to have good players come out of it or guys to have success come out of it, only helps it going forward.  Ultimately it's all positives there and I look forward to watching these young juniors, a lot of them even taking from Cameron that I've met run through the same process and work their way up.

Q.  Not to continue to inundate you with 2010 questions but talk about how you've grown as a golfer and a person in the last four years.
JORDAN SPIETH:  I don't even remember what I was like back then.  I think that on course there is definitely‑‑ I'm definitely a different‑‑ I'm less emotional, believe it or not, by far.  I'm able to, I think, I think through entire holes ahead of time a little better and pick‑‑ I have more shots and most of all a higher comfort level of hitting different shots.  I think that's the difference.
When you're a teenager and you're in high school and developing your game versus when you're doing it every day, hundred and hundreds of times you start to develop a comfort level to play.  If you need to play a flop‑shot from here, you need to hit that bunker shot right at the ball to carry it 30 yards, I don't have this, "scared" mentality that on certain shots you have back then, even though I was an extremely aggressive player, certain shots you bail out of that you don't anymore because you practice them enough.
So I think with the amount of repetition, I have a different comfort level on the course and although once I started‑‑ once the first tee shot was hit back then, that was about as fearless of golf as you can play and that's how I feel every week.  Get the right preparation done but now I just feel more prepared going into events.

Q.  Jordan, do you have any relationship with Scottie Scheffler and do you have advise for a guy who is making his debut at 17?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, Scottie, we go back a long time, I remember going against him way back, I was probably 12 or 13 and he must have been 9 or 10 and he was already a stud and I think he was beating me back then when he was 9 or 10 and I was 12, 13.
He's an incredible talent, I'm excited that he's going to be a Longhorn and I think it's a great move by him and we're definitely going to have a lot of success with him on the team.
Since going to college or since we were both in high school, we stayed in touch here and there.  I played a lot more with him when we were quite a bit younger.  For advice for the week, the only thing I can draw back on is the advice I got coming into to, it's cliche but the best way to get settled in and to have success is to have fun with it.  He's going to be nervous, I'm going to be nervous.  I'm nervous at this event on the first tee now, I'll be nervous in 20 years on the first tee at this event, but at the same time he's going to have support, get out there, hit a couple of greens and make a putt and it's so much easier once you get one putt to go in this kind of setting.

Q.  Jordan, you alluded to this earlier but how important was the actual finish of how you played in 2010, if you had struggled that week instead of finishing 16th, would it have slowed your progress at all?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I'm not sure.  No, I don't think so.  I was having a great year, I remember, in Junior Golf and just getting ready to go, get my game ready for the University of Texas team.  I don't think had it not gone as well it would have affected me to be in a different position right now at all.  I think that the confidence definitely helped and it also allowed me to, I think, receive other exemptions I may not have been able to get because of the awareness that was raised for this event and the great move by the Salesmanship Club and the TOUR and the Nelson to give me the spot.
I think it's awesome that Scottie is getting it and it should do similar if not better things for him.
It's hard for me to look back and‑‑ I just don't know what a change‑‑ I don't think anything would have, though.

Q.  Jordan, I'm thinking about 2010 too, at 16 your fan following was nice out here but now it's grown to immense levels.  Talk about managing that and does that impact your game during tournaments?
JORDAN SPIETH:  It's a little different.  Out here yesterday it was really cool, the Junior Clinic just to see‑‑ the way I look at it, a lot of the kids were yelling Jordan, throw me a ball so I knew they knew who I am but at the same time seeing them‑‑ the influence of‑‑ they have an under armor shirt and hat on that makes me look and see that the influence is real, and spreading.  Yeah, it's‑‑ it will be interesting this week.  Last year it kinda stunk because whatever it was, Thursday or Friday round we had great crowds when I was in the afternoon but then I squeaked by the cut and didn't play very well on Saturday so off so early I wasn't able to‑‑ I didn't‑‑ I was just off so early that the crowds were in the leader group.  So this week I hope to get out there like I did when I was even younger and see how it's grown and just feed off the crowd here.
Yeah, the support is incredible, there is no place like it than at the hometown event here.  Off the course‑‑ it's all positive, it's all great.  I can feed off it, just walking to the range and just having people yelling "Go Jordan" or "We're rooting for you" it feels like the city of Dallas is behind me and rooting for me this week.  It can only do wonders for me.

Q.  In that same light, many regard you as golf's next "big thing!"
Do you consider that as a burden or a complement?
JORDAN SPIETH:  I don't even hear it.  So I don't know.  I don't view it as either one.  I'm just here to get off on the first hole and try and win a golf tournament.
Whether that's playing to beat my friends or playing in the Masters or playing in the TOUR event, you know, off the course that kind of stuff, that kind of talk, it doesn't do good to pay attention to either way.  If I can get out there and win this week, it would be special for me and for my family, who has taken me out here since I was real young.  This is a tournament I've always dreamt about winning.  That's the goal this week and whenever talks happens outside of it, then other people see that.

Q.  Jordan where is the Ryder Cup on your radar right now?  How much do you think about it do you know where you are in the standings?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I do think about it, it's very high on my radar, it's a huge goal of mine this year to try and make that team.  I know I'm in a good position now but with quite a few events that are weighted heavily coming forward that doesn't mean a whole lot I've got to really dig in to do that, I know Bubba is pretty much secure, and everyone else has to play great golf, even guys that have won three times this year.
I'm 4th or 5th I think on the list, so, you know, you don't want to have to you don't want to slip past 9th, I want to earn my way on the team I was fortunate that Freddie gave me a pick last year for the President's Cup, but you can never ride on that you just never know so, it is very high up there to answer your question and that's why I put such an emphasis on the majors this year cause they're weighted heavily.  I got off to a good start on the first one.

Q.  When you come so close to winning these major tournaments are there certain holes that play over and over in your mind and how does that help you moving forward?
JORDAN SPIETH:  No, I don't have any holes to play over.  I know certain shots were really close or one bounce here or there and that gives me confidence to know that I'm doing the right shots and when it bounces my way I'll be able to close it out and pull it off.  I'm happy that I've been in these positions, because I understand now and I'm getting more comfortable each and every time that I'm in a position of high intensity and a lot of pressure, so as they go on, just feeling more and more calm will allow me to keep on sinking into my game and I get very lucky on the golf course normally so one of these days it will happen on Sunday.

Q.  First, just a personal aside, things you remember or don't remember about 2010.  I remember you doing Ping‑Pong in here.

Q.  On the AT&T subject, obviously you have a personal connection here, you have been going to this tournament since you were a kid and as you know AT&T has a future partnership with this?  Do you feel like this also gives you a business stake in the tournament going forward?
JORDAN SPIETH:  This tournament is so close to me that I look forward to doing it for as many years as they will allow me to, I'll play it until I'm 70 if I can.  But, yeah, it's an awesome, awesome partnership that's going to start with AT&T being a title sponsor of this event which I think is an incredible move on both parts.
No, I don't feel like I have a business stake necessarily, I just‑‑ this is my‑‑ this is the tournament that I love probably the most, the dearest to my heart and one that I'm going to continue to play in, because not only because I came out to it when I was young but this is a tournament I feel like I was given the opportunity to really test my game at a really young age, which did wonders for me (Phone ringing.)  Whoops!

Q.  (Away from mic.)
JORDAN SPIETH:  It is, it is, yeah, got great coverage in here this!  (Laughter.)  So I look forward to being back for as many years as possible.

Q.  You've obviously put yourself in position lately going into Sunday.  How much are you pressing to get that second win on TOUR?
JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, that's something that I can't do.  I can't press.  That's something that in a couple of events last year and a couple of events early this year was solely responsible for me not quite pulling it off.  I think I was wanting it too bad and pressing too hard instead of just playing my game and letting it happen.  If I'm doing well enough that week and keep on the same routine and don't think of it as any other day, then there shouldn't be any issue.  The last few events that I've come close, I haven't been pressing.  Augusta, yeah, on 12, the ball‑‑ you want to hit it over the bunker, but I was 2 yards from the bunker edge and I was 2 feet from the green.  I don't look at that as pressing accident I look at that as the ball turned too much in the air.  Last week I wasn't pressing.  I hit a couple of wedges at the pin that happened to bounce the other way and ended up in spots I couldn't get up and down.  I'm not pressing for it at all.
Like I said, the more I get into that position, the more I feel comfortable now, which is exciting for me, looking back.  It leaves me extremely excited, because sometimes when you don't pull it off, you know, it can be‑‑ when you get in the position the next time you're even more nervous, but for me I've felt very calm and it's been a better an easier experience to sink in and if I put myself in position enough times it will happen.  It wasn't my time at Augusta, it wasn't my time last week, Martin played incredible golf and I would have had to play awesome golf‑‑ I would have had to continue the streak of Thursday and Friday which is hard to do, in order to win.
THE MODERATOR:  Jordan Spieth, thank you, sir, appreciate it. 

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