THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to welcome back our 2015 Masters Champion Jordan Spieth to the interview room.
Jordan, first of all, congratulations to you, Annie, and your team on your win yesterday in Texas.
Let's see, that's your 12th PGA TOUR victory and your first since 2017. We have all enjoyed watching you compete over the last few months and seeing you in contention leading up to your win yesterday. Expectations for the week, and how do you feel about arriving at the Masters, driving down Magnolia Lane, and playing the best golf in recent memory.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I've certainly pulled down this morning, not long ago—when you're coming in form, it's a good feeling when you arrive here, and I've had that a few times. I've had it where I pulled down after missing a cut or played well not leading up to it and still played well here, too.
I love being here. I love being on the grounds. It's my favorite tournament in the world. I've expressed that many times in here.
Yesterday was a great day. That was a lot of fun being in contention, having the putts kind of go in. As I've mentioned over the last six weeks or so, you put yourself in that position enough times, the bounces will go your way.
That's kind of the motto I've always lived by, just try to be in form as often as you can and consistent as you can, and you end up holding the trophy at the end every once in a while. And it was a while since the last time it happened. And we got in late and didn't really have the normal celebrations in order that you would have after a win, certainly with this around the corner, so it's about trying to certainly soak it in but get refocused for the year's first major.
Q. You had said on the telecast you weren't as emotional as you thought you would be when you won. Why did you expect to be emotional, and why did you think you weren't?
I thought I would have the memories of the downs and the struggles and the climb back and really the progress and the momentum over the last, you know, few months, all that kind of hit me, and it just kind of was like a one-footer to win.
I saw Annie when that happened, and she was pretty emotional. I was happy that I didn't—that it didn't hit me that hard; that it felt more normal; that it felt like me and that's where I'm supposed to be and this is who I am. Sometimes you lose confidence and you just kind of—a little chink in the armor here and there, and that's kind of what I had experienced.
And so it was nice to kind of I guess feel normal towards the end of the round yesterday. It was a grind, but to make birdies closing out was fun on a pretty difficult track. Then here and there it's hit me a little bit, but all in all, it's about refocusing here and taking it the next step.
I feel it's actually been a lot easier for me, over the last 12 hours, to just look forward versus kind of looking back, I guess. That's exciting.
I just feel like there's quite a few things that I still need to really improve on and get better, and I felt that over the weekend. I felt that it wasn't the best—it wasn't the best my swing felt. It wasn't the best my stroke felt. There are times and ways that I can take a step forward and feel better and produce better golf shots consistently and produce better strokes, and it was pretty awesome when I look back and think there's a next level that I've been at that I'm still searching for right now.
Q. I've got two questions. I'll try and jam them both in here now. Why do you think you play so well here, number one? Historically you have. And can you look back over the last four years and pick a point that was the lowest point for you emotionally? Because you said yesterday was monumental.
Yeah, I think I used a word that was within 30 seconds of tapping in the last putt and kind of just not really knowing where my head was at, and I think that was probably a little aggressive of a term.
Again like I said, I did say it, but I didn't—I didn't really think that. I mean, like I just mentioned, it was—it kind of felt normal, but I think it was more just I wanted that monkey off my back of it just being a while out of the winner's circle, and I think that was just -- I felt the progression coming, and I was patient with it. But you get one 54-hole lead, and everyone thinks you're supposed to win right away, when you haven't had a 54-hole lead in a long time. It was just more like, all right, everybody chill out. It's a hard game, and I've done a really good job closing in my career. I've never doubted that ability, and you're going to have bounces that go your way and some that don't.
Your first question? Sorry.
Q. Why have you played here so well?
I think a lot of it, I've really fared well on the greens. Whether I've come in putting well or even in tough putting years, the ball seems to find the hole here, when I get on the putting surface. I think a lot of that has to do with speed control. I think mid-range and even long-range putting and touch putting is more important here than it is just about anywhere else. I would say that over anything else has been the biggest strength over the years.
Q. A lot of people like the idea of a fairy tale; it's a great story. Can you allow yourself at all to think -- do you think sport works that way, or do you have to be more pragmatic and cold about it and leave it to the likes of us?
Well, I certainly wouldn't mind that this week if that's what you're asking. I think I also like to step back and think, yeah, I'm 27, and a lot of people's careers get started at 27 in this sport. Phil was, what, 31, when he won his first major and had a major championship career after he won his first major, and four or five years, still my senior.
So there's a lot of ways to look at it. I think for me it's not forcing into kind of the here and now and more just taking the patient route and taking the momentum route and just try and get -- do something just a little bit better this week than you did the week before; trust something you didn't trust the week before and pull it off and gain that confidence. Just head down, almost like one shot at a time, but that even goes into practice sessions.
I like the progress that I'm making. I don't feel that I have the control of all facets of my game that I want to have yet, but I feel like I'm working the right direction. Will that be -- make a difference this week? Don't know. But I'm going to work at trying to just be a little bit better than I was last week.
THE MODERATOR: We've received a remote question: How different is the atmosphere at Augusta National today in comparison to November?
JORDAN SPIETH: Unfortunately I don't have a very good answer for that, being Monday at 1:00 when I got here Monday at noon. But I saw, like, six people watching people putt on the practice green, and that's more than we saw in November.
It's fun. We're able to have tickets and we've got family and friends coming in, and everyone is just as excited as every other year, if not more so, because they might even be able to see more golf around that Amen Corner stretch.
So I think the Patrons play such a massive role into this tournament, the echos, the roars down in the valley, and especially come the weekend, I think it's going to feel—it won't take many people for it to feel close enough to normal to be a fantastic event.
Q. Given the struggles you've discussed at length, what are the biggest factors that have gotten you to this level, and what specifically is the difference between this level and, what you just said, the next level?
A lot of it is the mechanics of my golf swing. I was fighting some changes, whether it be injury to just ignorance to -- I mean, I'm trying to do stuff myself, and I just got off mechanically to where I essentially was late into the golf ball and just had bad, inconsistent deliveries that led to inconsistent golf and had to save stuff with my hands.
So I've just done a better job of cleaning up transition into the ball to where I've got it more on plane into the golf ball and shallowed and in a better position to not have to rely on timing as much.
But it's probably, I don't know, I would say a little over halfway to where -- I mean, I can tap into -- I'm making some swings each week where I'm like, man, that was -- from mid-backswing right in transition, I'm like that's going to be a missile right at the pin, and I'm trying to tap into what that timing phase is and continue down the path of reversing thousands of swings and doing the wrong thing into pushing the agenda that I'm on right now into where I can get it to be most of the swings that feel like that.
That's for everybody. That's not just me. That's what everyone is trying to do on the range this week, is tap into their DNA, where they -- where they have struck the ball the best and where they have putted the best and figure out how to get into that frame of mind and that timing as they step on the first tee Thursday.
So I just got further off than normally professionals get, and so it's been a climb back. And I feel on the right path, but there's still a lot of work to go.
Q. I think you've visited recently, and I've heard chatter among players that they expect a lot firmer and tougher test this week, maybe because of November, but certainly since November. Do you expect that and do other guys expect that, and do you prefer that kind of Masters test?
Yeah, I would expect that. I think if you get the weather that—if the membership here and those who are setting up the golf course get the weather they want to get, they like to see tournaments like 2014, 2016, a little bit '17, where it's potentially less than 10-under par is a winning score, where it requires a lot more kind of course knowledge where you leave the ball and you have to hit an even more precise shot to get it where you want it to go.
I think the firmer the better, the way this golf course plays. I have no idea. I have not been here since December. So I've heard that it is firmer and the grass around the greens is tighter, and it's in just impeccable shape for being the Sunday before from the guys I talked to yesterday.
Q. We see it out here so often when guys go through slumps, extended slumps, the caddie is switched off and the coach, things like that. I'm just curious what it says about that you that you did not, you know, fall into that temptation or whatnot and stuck with Michael and Cameron and whatnot. Just curious about that.
I think I needed to look back and take responsibility. It's part of the game. Some people on certain levels and some people on others. I mean, it's not like I lost my TOUR card. I just wasn't winning three times a year.
So I think if I won once a year since then you guys still might have called it slightly a slump off of some years. It's all about whatever the expectations of the individual are and what they can manage from the outside.
For me it was taking ownership and this is what happened. I believe in my team. They have proven themselves to be the best in the world, and how can we all get a little bit better through this and what steps are we going to take forward to be able to feel this momentum together as we start to make progress in the right direction and then believing that that's happening.
Q. You've heard that outside noise, I'm assuming, those, quote/unquote, suggestions: He should do this, he should do that.
Not really. I've shut everything off for a number of years, actually, even when I was first, second in the world. I just don't think it's useful. If you get to where you're No. 1 in the world, I don't really see why anyone who has not been in that position should be giving advice that you would then take to mean something.
It seems certainly there are individuals that you trust that would have knowledge, but as far as noise from -- on making changes or this or that or without—I mean, I just—I think I struggled a little with that early in my career of listening to what was wrong when there was a hundred things right, and there was one thing that was wrong about something that I did. I look back now, and I'm like the thing that person said was wrong was actually a weapon that I had that was actually an advantage.
So just gaining that kind of knowledge in turn helps me to, I guess, limit the noise that creeps into myself or my team, and essentially just shutting it off and trusting the individuals that I want to trust, building kind of a good—whether it's othe—whoever the other players are that I trust to talk to or our own team, whoever it may be.
Yeah, I think Bill Belichick, it's one of his very key things is eliminate the noise, and I remember seeing that at Gillette Stadium before I think The Ryder Cup in 2016, and it's always stuck with me.
Q. You've always had such tremendous perspective outside the game. What perspective personally and/or professionally did the drought give you that maybe you didn't have previously?
I think I was, I guess, humbled to an extent, right. I never felt like I ever got a head of myself. I never felt like I was out there overly confident. But I think you get humbled a little bit.
For me it really stung when I missed the World Golf Championship. I didn't qualify for the World Golf Championship this year and I think that was the first one that I didn't qualify for. When there was a tournament being played that week that I was healthy and could play in and just didn't have a spot in the tournament, that kind of hit me and it was a driving factor, I think, in continuing. I had finished well in a few events.
But to answer your question, I think I've learned a lot of patience. I probably spent a year of struggling where I was forcing a lot of things, and it just made it worse. But it was just kind of hard not to force it because I just wanted to be back to playing good golf so quickly without really -- sometimes less is more.
I think it's a new -- I'm not a very patient person in general, and I think having to kind of learn patience through struggles is massively important, where taking a step back and maybe taking a full month away from the game and kind of coming back with a new game plan and new set plan and sticking to it versus when you don't take that time off, a lot of times you go almost day-to-day or week-to-week and you're changing swing thoughts or you're swinging your attitude.
I think the less is more and the patient mentality.
Q. You talked about Annie being a really strong support system but at the same time trying to separate golf from your home life. I think anyone sitting here can tell you it's easier to be in a good mood after you play a good, meaningless round of golf than it's not. How difficult is it to leave golf at the course, whether it's good or bad?
I think it's tough. If you're a super competitive person, it's really challenging, but it's something that you have to learn to do in relationships in any front.
I mean, I can't go to dinner with Michael after a round where we've had a tough day and carry that, as well, or it's just going to make matters worse. I can't bring it home to Annie. I can't bring it when I'm going to see my parents next week when I get quality time with them when I haven't seen them in a couple weeks, right.
It's difficult, as you can imagine, but I think for me, normally after a bad round, I just need like an hour, and I think I can—I've done a good job of learning how to kind of decompress and be able to move on and just be normal and have the next day be a new day.
Q. Is there anything you do in that hour?
Yeah, I just break everything—(laughter)—no, it's just more quiet the mind down. Do some breathing. Just a little meditation, whatever it may be and just hit the reset button.
THE MODERATOR: Jordan, thank you and good luck this week.