THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome again to the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. It is my pleasure to welcome 2015 U.S. Open champion, Jordan Spieth, to the Media Center this morning. Jordan is here playing in his seventh U.S. Open, his first at Shinnecock Hills.
Jordan, can you talk a little bit about your initial impressions of the golf course?
JORDAN SPIETH: We got in Sunday evening. I was able to see the whole golf course over the last two days. It's a spectacular design, as other people have raved about it going into it.
So it will change significantly over the next few days, and I'm looking forward to the challenge for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Have you had the opportunity in the last few days to have different weather conditions or to get a sense of the wind you might face throughout the week here?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yesterday was the opposite wind that we'll face. As far as what clubs you're hitting off tees and how shots are reacting in the greens, that will change a lot off of what I've seen the last couple days. But today should be a decent, similar wind to where, over today and tomorrow, I should get to kind of get a feel for the clubs off tees.
But I know at U.S. Opens, that changes from Wednesday to Sunday a lot and you end up hitting less and less club. So just trying to get run-out numbers and knowing how far the ball carries is very important here.
THE MODERATOR: Have you watched, realizing there have been two fairly recent U.S. Opens held here in '95 and 2004, have you watched those at all coming into this week or just kind of fresh into it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I was 1 year old in the first, and I was 10 in the second. So I haven't -- the only thing I have from the '04 was a couple of replays I've seen in the last couple weeks, like No. 7, you know, the wind kind of blowing the ball off the green. That's about it.
I don't -- and it's 14 years ago, so with technology and the changes in the golf course anyways, I think it will be a totally different experience from any previous Opens here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it to questions.
Q. Jordan, I think any time a fan watches a pro golfer miss a short putt on TV, they think how is that possible? From your standpoint, what makes something like a little five-footer harder than people may think, watching it on TV?
Especially on poa annua greens that are really fast and really slopey out here, a five-footer is almost 50-50 shot depending on where the break is. People don't realize that. They look shorter on TV too than they actually are.
You actually have a lot of luck involved, depending on when you're playing and if the wind's blowing. You can hit an outside right edge five-footer, and depending on if it's a crosswind or you get kind of the wrong bounce on poa annua, it could be a dead straight putt, and it could break and miss left of the hole, and you could hit them 30 seconds apart from each other.
So patience is very important, knowing that everybody's going to have that on any kind of poa annua greens or very fast greens because you have to trust playing ball putts outside of holes from such a short distance, like you have to at Augusta.
It's just difficult because you're not used to seeing that at home where you practice or on a weekly basis, starting balls outside, because the greens are never really that fast and that severe.
Q. This is actually a follow to that question. What is it like for you to have people who will never putt as well as you dissecting your stroke the way it has been dissected the last few months?
I'm not really sure. I haven't seen any dissection of it other than what I've been doing myself with the work with Cameron. Everyone goes through peaks and valleys of results in any part of your game, and I just got a little off in setup, and I'm really starting to bring it back now. It feels very good.
I had, actually, a strong performance on the greens at Muirfield. It was my one bad ball striking week of the year, so I didn't get four rounds in. But I putted well there and am trending in the right direction.
I just kind of had a lot of patience with it, and it's coming along nicely. The game feels like it's in really good shape right now, as good as it has this year. So got a good chance at a strong second half of the year. Anything similar to the second half of what I did last year would make 2018 an amazing year.
Q. Jordan, I'm wondering what you remember, what you learned about your very first U.S. Open. The reason I'm asking that is because I'm following a young player who turned pro last week. This is his second professional start. What kind of advice would you give a player like that who is making his second professional start at this kind of championship?
Yeah, I got into the -- I think it was the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic. I was in school still, and I was an alternate, and I didn't get in until maybe Monday night or something and got up to Olympic on Tuesday, which is probably better for me to, you know, not have much time to think and just kind of to come in and react and go.
And it was a fantastic U.S. Open Championship. There was maybe 6, 7 under was leading after the first couple days. 1 under ended up winning the golf tournament. The cut was 8 over par.
I think advice to anybody at a U.S. Open is bogeys do not hurt you. It's when you try and do too much and you make a double or a triple where it sets you back because then you feel like you have to get it back. You never want to try and get something back at a U.S. Open. You play each hole the way it's supposed to be played, no matter what you did before, no matter what's coming next.
I had a crazy finish in the 2015 U.S. Open, and that kind of proves anything is possible at this golf tournament. So have fun with it. I mean, enjoy the difficulty of this unique golf tournament.
Q. Go back to what you said about putting. How often does it (no microphone) over the course of a year?
If you're lucky, a couple times. You go on trends where you start trending upwards, you finish 20th, and you start finishing 12th, and you finish 5th, and you have a chance to win three times in a row. Guys go on confidence-boosting streaks, but to play really well consistently on the PGA tour, it's your off weeks where you need to be finishing 20th.
When you don't have all facets of your game that go off but maybe one or two get a little off and you find a way to get the ball in the hole anyways, that's what consistency is out here.
But to have everything on, I mean, that's -- it's rare. Even when guys win golf tournaments, there is something that they will tell you they wish they did better that week.
Every once in a while, though -- Webb Simpson at the PLAYERS most recently, D.J. last week, where he's holing chip shots and holing wedge shots -- 8 iron, 9 iron, whatever he did on the last hole -- where it's going your way and everything is going right, you're lucky if that happens once or twice a year.
Q. (No microphone)?
I think he's playing -- I think he's playing good enough golf to win a golf tournament at any point in time. There's no -- nobody would ever count out probably the most clutch putter and short game player of all time, and then he's obviously striking the ball extremely well, the rounds I've played with him. Just played with him a couple evenings ago.
He's hitting the driver long and straight, working it both ways. It's a matter of time, in my opinion. Still, to win, again, you've got to have the right things go your way at the right times. No matter -- he's won with "C" games before, but that was kind of an anomaly.
Q. What do you think of the USGA decision to go to a two-hole playoff to decide?
It's the first I've heard of that being an option.
It's still 18 holes, right?
THE MODERATOR: No, it's two.
JORDAN SPIETH: Oh, it is two? I didn't even know. What do I think of it?
THE MODERATOR: Two on Sunday.
JORDAN SPIETH: Two on Sunday. Either way, I mean, I guess strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed. I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, you know, what's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff? So shows you what I know.
THE MODERATOR: Spend the day in the city instead.
Q. Jordan, with Father's Day being Sunday, what's the fondest golf story that you've shared with your dad?
Well, the 2015 U.S. Open was special. He was there. That was a special moment. We used to go golfing on Father's Day when I was really young. That was a fun thing to do, go out and play nine holes and hit some balls and whatnot.
You're saying Father's Day memory or just golf memory in general?
I think I made my first birdie ever with my dad. I chipped in on No. 3, the course I grew up in, Brookhaven, right where I grew up in Dallas. I think that was my first birdie ever. I don't know how old I was. He could tell you better. But I know I was with him.
That was -- I mean, it's moments like that early on in childhood, you know, when you're a kid that help you fall in love with the game. And I vividly remember that one still, the chip. I don't remember how old I was, but I was kind of -- there's a big hill, and it was kind of blind, and I remember chipping it in and that being one of my fondest earliest golf memories.
Q. Two things. First of all, have you found your patience being tested this year? If so, to what level? Or is it a case where, even though you're young, you still have a 5-1/2 year window of experience knowing that one tournament, one week, can change the outlook entirely? How much do you lean on that?
Yeah, I think my patience has been tested, just not going into Saturday or Sunday with a legitimate chance to win, but maybe, once -- technically, the Masters, I didn't really have a chance. The back nine, I ended up giving myself a chance.
Yeah, just the limited number compared to previous years of chances I've had on the weekends has been frustrating. But over the last -- since probably in between Austin and Houston was a really big weekend for me of settling down and getting back on the right track with things and recognizing that it's a long career, and, you know, results aren't going to come by wanting them to come. They're going to come by being obsessed with the process, getting back to the basics, being an athlete, figuring out within the swing, the intricacies of the game, kind of the stuff -- the reason I love to practice, that's what's going to kind of bring it back, and results aren't everything.
I mean, again, I feel like my game is in the best shape it's been in a long time, including last year. And my results don't necessarily speak towards that, but I feel that way, and so I'll stick with the process, and they'll surely come at some point.
Q. Secondly, there's a number of really good players with one Major over the last three or four years. I'm just curious how important it is, do you think, to get that second Major as you kind of establish yourself? And from your own experience, how either fortunate you were and what it meant to get the second one so quickly. Does that make sense?
Yeah. I think the second one for me was definitely the easiest of the three. Just given I was almost -- I mean, it was so house money. It was so -- I rolled into it. If I -- I didn't care, necessarily, how it went. Like I wanted to play well. I was preparing. I was there the Saturday before. I was grinding because I love to do that and I love to compete in tournaments. But if I won, great. If not, I just won the Masters. Like, that's awesome. It was one of those where it kind of came about quickly, and it made it easier.
I don't know how -- so it's hard for me to speak to kind of how important it is to validate a first Major. I could tell you how hard it was to get that third one to kind of validate the year of '15. Like people didn't look at '15 as winning two Majors. They looked at it as an entire career year based on the way I was questioned about it.
And so to kind of get last year's Open Championship was validation of it can come about a bunch of different ways, different times, different kind of, you know, mental attitude, different ball striking versus putting. I could do it different ways, and that was cool validation for me.
Q. Put it a different way. They've been talking about the best player who didn't win a Major. Is it fair to ask you (no microphone)?
I don't think it's necessarily the same as the best to never win one. There's something added to these tournaments. If you figure out a way to do it, no matter how you figure out a way to do it, you're classified as a Major champion, and that holds significant value in the golf world.
So one's unbelievable because of the added "ness" to it that we feel.
Q. (No microphone)?
Q. Jordan, as you've gathered these Majors, in the process, you've seen contemporaries like Justin Thomas and now Patrick Reed also. What's it like to be in the mix with this group of young lions or whatever on the PGA Tour? And give us some sort of insight into maybe your interactions.
It almost feels like I'm back in high school and college. These are the same guys we used to battle it out with then, and I'd win one, then they would win one, then they'd win one. You know, it's just blown up now because there was no coverage, no one really cared to watch us back then, and now people do.
But it's nothing different than what we've kind of been doing with each other for a number of years. It's really cool to be out here doing it, but I don't think we really -- I don't think we think of it as a totally different experience than anything we've always kind of done.
I think it's awesome to have so many good friends that I grew up traveling with and, you know, messing around off the golf course with, going to dinners, staying in hotels, not living a normal, necessarily, teenage life, having kind of two lives. And then these same friends are able to get out here and compete on the highest level against, you know, your Tigers and Phils that are here that we grew up idolizing growing up. That's what's so unique and cool about it for us.
But the winning big tournaments, they're just blown up out here, and they weren't blown up when we were in high school and college.
Q. Jordan, you opened up by saying this is a spectacular design. In your view, what qualifies it as spectacular? How would you define spectacular as regards to Shinnecock?
The shapes of holes, the kind of shots you have to hit. It's obviously personal. Different people like different golf courses. I enjoy the fact that you're hitting off different slopes. You have to work. You have to play in the wind. You have to work certain ball flights to hold greens. You can't get away with one ball flight all the time. You kind of have to maneuver it around off different slopes and winds. It just requires more of an artistic approach. You have three or four different blind tee shots where you've just got to step up and really trust what you're hitting at.
The fairways aren't necessarily narrow. They'll probably play narrower as the week goes on and as it firms up. So you have to get smaller and smaller targets and not look at what looks like a wide fairway that plays effectively narrow and just be really, really smart about picking apart the golf course. It makes you think a lot.
Q. Along those same lines, we all know what the Masters is and what the British Open is, but the U.S. Open, what defines the U.S. Open seems to be sort of in flux, and I'm wondering if you could help us understand what you think the U.S. Open is.
Yeah, it's the toughest test in golf. The Masters is the Masters. The Open Championship, the oldest championship, typically links golf course, a different style of golf altogether, really playing in conditions.
The U.S. Open has that hardest test of golf to it, where you have the tallest rough, you get guys who are advancing full swings like six feet. I did it last year. I have done it multiple times in a U.S. Open. That's just what the U.S. Open is. It's very different from any other golf tournament and any other Major.
Q. Jordan, if there is someone whom you regard as a better putter, who is it?
A lot of great putters out here. That's why they're out here. I'm not sure. No single name necessarily comes to mind. I'd still like to bet on myself, if I can. So I'm not sure. I like to go off of big moments, who makes them at the right speed, the right line, just kind of the cool putts in big moments.
Looking back, nobody's done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes. So he would be somebody who I would consider a fantastic clutch putter. I don't really compare, necessarily, myself to other people because my style of putting is very different from his and a lot of other people.
Sorry, that doesn't really answer your question.
Q. No, but the best I think you could do. Thank you very much.
Q. Two of the larger themes this week are Phil trying to complete a Grand Slam and Tiger's ten years since his last Major and trying to pick off that 15th. I just wonder, in terms of your level of impressiveness, being impressed, I should say, is one of those more impressive or more difficult? Or how would you rate that if one of those happened this week?
I would probably consider Phil's more impressive because that's a significant career accomplishment, to win all four Majors. I don't know how many guys have done it, by the way. You guys know.
Five guys have done it? That would put you somewhere -- if Tiger wins the U.S. Open, then all he's going to be asked about is, is he going to get to 18? So the difference that it makes, I think, it makes a bigger difference for Phil than Tiger. I mean, Tiger's got 14, and he's won, what, three U.S. Opens? Is that right? So I think there's a different meaning to those two.
Q. Jordan, you've always been so good about letting us inside your head a little bit into your process --
That's going to stop (laughter).
Q. Whether it's good or bad. That's where I'm leading. I wonder if you think that you open yourself up to that amateur psychoanalysis that you wouldn't get if you were closed off like some players?
Yeah. I mean, you guys have a job to do, and if we're shutting you off, then, you know, I don't feel like that's right because you guys also are able to push our agenda too.
So I think that there have been times I've offered too much information that I regretted afterwards, but at the same time, I just try and answer the questions open, honestly, and probably should get shorter in the future. None of you guys want to hear that, but that's probably going to be the case.
Q. Hi, Jordan. You have five exemptions. I believe the most of anyone here today. You're obviously a significant golfer. We have about 50 people in the room. Half hour ago, we had Tiger in the room, and it was standing room only, 200 more. What does it mean to you to have Tiger back here competing?
It's not really for me. It's to the game in general. It's -- it adds a whole 'nother level for sure. I think it's great for the sport. He doesn't -- he's not here because of that. He's here because he loves the game and he loves to compete and he wants to win. And that's what he's been obsessed with, and it's what's driven him, and it's why he's so successful.
But the kind of extra to that is that it's good for the rest of us. He, like Arnie and Jack, are in that elite company that have shifted the game and made it popular and made the way of life significantly different for professional golfers. We certainly owe a lot to him. And that doesn't mean that anybody wants to take it easy on him if they're coming down the stretch with him.
So it just -- it adds an element to it, sure. We've seen it -- I've seen it since I was out on Tour. I've seen it since I was watching him when I was 11, 12 years old. So it doesn't surprise me in here that that would change.
He's also being dissected to the nth degree on everything he's doing and every practice swing on a Monday. I think that's pretty bizarre. But it is what it is, and he handles it the way he wants to handle it, and he goes about his business not really caring about what people think and does it because he loves to do it.
Q. To follow that, Jordan, your first U.S. Open in 2012, I think you and Tiger actually tied for 21st in that U.S. Open. Half of the U.S. Opens you've been in didn't have Tiger and half have had him. What's it like on a Tuesday in a U.S. Open with Tiger versus a Tuesday in a U.S. Open without Tiger and a Sunday with and without Tiger?
If I'm not playing with him, then I don't feel a difference, whether he's there or not. When you're playing with him, you know it. I mean, there's more people. There's more cameras. There's just everything.
Not that that's -- it could be good, it could be bad. It's kind of however you approach it. I've had some of my best rounds in the PGA Tour playing with him, and I've had a couple of my worst rounds playing with him, and it has nothing to do with him. It has nothing to do with the extra to it. It's just different. It's just different.
And my feelings on a Tuesday out here with him in it versus was he -- I don't know when the last one he was in, honestly.
THE MODERATOR: '15.
He was there in '15, but he was out the last couple, right? I don't notice a difference today than last Tuesday. I played with him Sunday evening, and that was a bizarre experience because there's nobody here, and that's never happened. So that was kind of cool in itself too.
Q. Jordan, please don't shorten your answers because you teach us something in every press conference you do. I have a question about the par 5s. If you finish the week even par, will you be satisfied on those holes, or will you feel as if you gave strokes away?
If I finish every other hole even par as well, I'll probably be satisfied, yeah. But they're definitely the more gettable holes out here where you're looking to play under par.
There's, No. 1 and the par 5s -- I don't know the golf course that well yet, but there's maybe one other hole, 6 -- sorry. 15 is one where you're looking at a pretty, you know, looking to get a good birdie opportunity because you can hit iron wedge, just like No. 1. Those four holes, you're trying to play those four under par. And, again, play each hole with what it's giving you.
I mean, these greens play effectively small compared to their square footage. So if you can hit the center of them, that's not a bad strategy. You're going to have a look. Even if you're above the hole, I get it, it's a U.S. Open, you're above the hole, but it's still a better opportunity than being off the green chipping to make par. So my strategy is going to be as many middle of the greens in regulation as possible.
Q. Jordan, I'm curious, with your saying (no microphone) toughest test in golf, what's your opinion? Are you more of a fan of the traditional courses like Oakmont or Shinnecock, or how do you feel about the newer tracks like Erin Hills and Chambers Bay in the last couple years.
You're not trying to, but that's walking me into a little bit of a trap. I really enjoy -- I know you're not. I really enjoy the -- I've really enjoyed the classic courses. I loved playing Oakmont in the U.S. Open. This course has been fantastic.
I thought Chambers Bay was an awesome layout. The greens, unfortunately, were not cooperating. So I ended up probably the only one happy leaving there. With the greens being like the two they had redone, I think that course has a totally different reputation leaving there.
Last year didn't feel like a U.S. Open. It was more wet than what was expected, and, therefore, 16 under won, and you just -- you go into a U.S. Open thinking, you know, even par to 5 under. 2 over to 5 under, right? So that's what you're preparing for.
I've enjoyed the classic courses more so than the new ones, not to say that there aren't some unbelievable modern golf courses that have yet to be played in Major Championships that hopefully will be down the road.
Q. Do you feel that that's going to benefit the players that have experienced Shinnecock before?
I don't think so at all based on what I've heard has been changed. I really don't -- I don't think experience plays any role in this golf tournament this week. Experience -- I don't think experience in the 2004 Open. People who have come here and played a lot of golf here over the last two, three years, that certainly helps. The more you can see a place and see different wind conditions, bounces, that kind of stuff. I don't think the 2004 Open is going to help anybody.
Q. One of the guys you will be playing with is Phil, and are you prepared not to be the crowd favorite in that grouping? And what kind of energy do you think is going to be out there with him to begin this tournament?
I've never felt it like a Ryder Cup. I don't really feel favorites/not favorites. You just get bigger cheers and less loud cheers. I played with Phil last week or whatever it was, week and a half ago. Wherever you go, if you're paired with Phil, you're always getting less cheers than he is, which, again, just like when I was speaking with Tiger, it's not good, bad. It's just, it is what it is.
And it's cool, actually, to see the support he's had, and you figure out that, if you carry yourself the way he has, you gain a lot of fans of all ages. I mean, he's really conducted himself unbelievably well for his entire career, and he's a guy that a lot of players look up to, including myself.
And so he deserves it. I'll certainly be pulling for him to play well this week. It would be exciting for him to be in the mix.
THE MODERATOR: We'll look forward to watching Thursday and Friday. Jordan, thank you very much for being with us today. Always a pleasure.