THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Jordan Spieth to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Pretty good weekend for you in Scottsdale. 67, 67 to finish in the top-10. Overall it's been a pretty encouraging start to the year. Just take us through where your game's at into this week and how you're feeling.
JORDAN SPIETH: I feel good. Solid start to the year. Few top-10s. I'd love to get off to a hotter start. Hawaii, kind of slow starts and then a 1-under round last week sets you pretty far behind when 19 or whatever it was, 18-under that was in the playoff. So, I think it is my fifth start here, which is crazy to me. But I love these golf courses and we expect anything from the weather, so go out there and attack, because the courses are pretty soft.
THE MODERATOR: Sounds good. Questions?
Q. You mentioned the weather, we had some pretty rough weather yesterday. Another storm coming tomorrow. How do you adjust to this type of rain and wind?
Get out and hit a few balls in the rain gear just to -- we're not used to playing that much golf in the rain. We get pampered from that. We normally are inside if it's raining -- like yesterday, we probably wouldn't have played golf. So get out and hit some shots in rain gear, just get comfortable with it. And other than that, it's just part of the game, so that's what's cool about golf is you can, you have to, obviously, power through the elements, so. And out here, it's expected to, this time of year, to get -- we just got lucky the last two years. We're kind of expected to have some rough weather. But it looks like the tee times are moved up, looks like we might just get a few holes tomorrow, maybe a few holes Friday and then we got sunshine on the weekend.
Q. What did you learn from hanging out with Michael Phelps last week?
We talked a bit. Went to dinner at his house. He and Nicole hosted myself and Michael and we had a couple other friends there and it was awesome. It was a lot of fun. They were great hosts. Boomer was the star of the show. And played with Michael Wednesday, but dinner was more serious, Wednesday was more just messing around.
But, yeah, we shared some stuff and he opened kind of the door for me to call him about anything I had questions on and whatnot. He was such a class act and a really nice guy, down to earth. It's got to be cool for him standing anywhere he goes when he's announced as the greatest, most-decorated Olympian of all time. That's a pretty nice title to have.
Q. Can you and did you pick up anything, though, from him that can translate to golf?
Sure, yeah, of course. Mental side of things. Stuff that I'll probably just, I would like to keep to myself. Those are kind of invaluable type of moments and advice that I'm fortunate he's willing to be open with me. But, yeah, just a lot of things about trying to set new goals and trying to keep your head down, what kind of work it takes to be at a point where he got to the blocks and he already knew he was going to win, it was just a matter of if he could beat the world record. That was just kind of the way he was thinking. And as an athlete to kind of get to that level, it's very difficult. And not many have done it and it's pretty cool to hear from one who has.
Q. Did he talk about swimming in the rain?
No. He doesn't do much of that competitive swimming in the rain. So, I'm sure he would still win.
Q. Jim was just in here announcing changes to the Ryder Cup captain's picks with three after Boston and then one after BMW. Obviously, it didn't affect you last year and it probably won't affect you for a very long time --
Thank you. I hope not.
Q. -- I'm curious how it went down last year in your view and what you think about the changes for 2018.
Yeah. It was, obviously, tricky at the end last year. Just so many great players to choose from. And the hot players to choose from. And other guys who made -- golf course may fit better. Just, Davis had a really tough job at the end and no matter what happened, he was going to receive scrutiny and he knew that and you have to step into that role as a captain and make the decisions.
I think -- Jim called me and he said he spoke with a lot of different players. I spoke with him about a week and a half or two weeks ago when I was home and he asked me to call him when I had a chance. We just talked a little through potential changes, what it would be like, what did we don't like about the process what he thinks he could do. And I think that what the changes are were well done. I think they're just going to be helpful going forward. And, yeah, what was the second part of that question?
Q. Can't remember.
Yeah, me neither.
Q. I know you sign a lot of autographs, but coming off 18 today some guys ragged on you pretty hard for not signing and I think you said that they, you thought they were professional autograph seekers?
Q. And it got a little testy there?
Yeah, and it's not necessarily worth me spending time arguing. But I just, I'm not appreciative of people who travel to benefit off other people's success. And just, we're out here to -- I enjoy signing and sign for kids whenever we get the chance. And when these guys have these items that you've already seen online and people, we have -- our team keeps track of that kind of stuff. And these guys that just have bags of stuff to benefit from other people's success when they didn't do anything themselves. Go get a job instead of trying to make money off of the stuff that we have been able to do. We like to sign stuff for charity stuff or for kids or -- and if you ask anybody universally it's the same way, it's just, they frustrate us. And so I turned around and they, one of them dropped an F-bomb in front of three kids, so I felt the need to turn around and tell them that that wasn't right. And couple of them were saying you're not Tiger Woods, don't act like you're Tiger, I mean it's just like, whatever, guys, so. You're still trying to benefit off me and I'm not even Tiger Woods. So, you know, what's that say about you?
So, anyway, yeah, here and there get into it a little bit. Normally I let Michael get into it with them. But when you see guys that follow you around the entire round, they're saying afterwards, "We're huge fans." A lot of other people did follow the entire round and so I want to make sure I sign for them, if I didn't get them out there. So I was just a little frustrated at the end and I didn't appreciate the language that was used and just some scums that just, it just bothered me.
Q. I'm proud of you. Sounded like the right thing to do.
Depends on who's asking. They didn't appreciate it.
Q. The point is, is --
No, I'm kidding.
Q. -- they didn't have to. What do you work on on a week like this when you know the weather is going to be bad, the greens are going to be bumpy, the rounds are long? Obviously, you're here to win the tournament, but what else do you hope to get out of it work-wise?
Yeah. You got to pick and choose. It's -- Monday, I just, I did a little bit of short game work. I wasn't real pleased with my chipping and bunker play last week. So Monday was kind of an off day, get off my feet, recovery-type day, but just wanted to get a few short game shots in.
Yesterday, I went into that hitting bay area inside on the simulator, just to check on the swing without having to hit in the crazy weather that was outside. Just to get things intact, find out where they are, send some videos to Cameron, do some putting in there too out of the elements. Just to be in a groove with the swing and know what kind of feelings to go off of. And then I went outside to hit a few to test kind of the conditions in the rain gear. But I didn't play any and then today I played Pebble just to get a feel of what kind of the turf's like out there, hits some shots off some uneven lies. So, certainly not ideal when the weather's off as far as preparation and practice goes, but this week with long rounds it's about conserving energy, I'll have if I normally warm-up an hour and a half, I'll probably warm-up 50 minutes or something. Just try and do the right things, be real patient on greens. This is my fifth time out here action I think I was in 2014 I think it was I was leading the tournament through two rounds and 3-putted seven times on Pebble on Saturday. Which can happen out here if you get a little off on short range. So, a lot of speed control work on the greens and around the greens and then just some patience recognizing that your strokes gained are not going to be the same kind of 1-putt percentage that they are at other tournaments. Recognizing that it's that way across the board, the field's all typically going to struggle a little more on these greens than they do somewhere else, especially when they're wet. They're going to be a bit bumpy and we know that going in. It's just the type of grass it is and the weather that we have had. So it's just a matter of patience. That's what I'm focusing on.
Q. I was going to ask you what kind of mental adjustments do you have to make coming into this event given the pro-am format, longer rounds as you mentioned and celebrity environment that you'll be playing in?
Honestly, the last few years I probably had as much or more fun here as any other tournament. We have a great group with Dustin and The Great One and we have Jake and Jake's been an awesome partner for me. Very positive, very up beat, when he sees I'm down he comes over, it's just like, dude, you knock in 20 footers all the time, get 'em next hole. Something like that. It's cool to have him there. So, yeah, the fact that it's this setting, mentally, I don't really change much, I've got a great partner who understands the game and has played competitively himself and he's almost like having another positive influence out there like Michael is. And we're going to have fun with it. I smile more, laugh more, even when it's not quite going my way, it's just good for me. Good for anybody.
Q. Two things, knowing that you would prefer to play in beautiful sunshine, is there something that about this week that makes bad weather more tolerable?
Yeah, just because it's almost a little bit expected. So you don't normally go into L.A. next week thinking there's going to be rain and it's going to be cold. But in this week, I've played it now twice where it's been tough weather and twice where it's been beautiful. But understanding that, historically, that that's just the way it works around the Monterey Peninsula you can get these front that come there and stories of 6- and 5-irons on 7 at Pebble, you almost just think these golf courses are kind of meant to play in that kind of condition and so maybe it just makes it a little more bearable mentally going in. Obviously, everybody wants the weather to be fantastic because it just makes the courses more beautiful, it makes the scores better, it makes it easier he to walk and watch for the fans and for us. But it is definitely more tolerable here I think just knowing the history of it.
Q. Secondly, the fact you started the year third, third, and ninth and already dropped one spot in the ranking, is that any kind of a reminder just how crowded it's getting at the top?
Yeah, I would like to think over the last 24 months, with a couple Majors and three Top-3s in Majors still within the last two full years on that and, well, it's probably, I think, seven wins or, yeah, seven in that time, and I think I'm sixth now, is that right? It's crazy. Obviously, I think there's more emphasis on what's happened recently. I don't know exactly how it all works. But just, it just shows that, first of all, winning is extremely important, as far as moving up. Third place doesn't do much for you. So emphasis on closing the deal out, but emphasis on the Major Championships, that's where you make your jumps, too. So, it's not really a big concern of mine, it's not at all. I'm not saying that because I've fallen back as like -- but I mean, once I reached that peak, that was, that goal I wanted to accomplish, obviously I want to stay there, but my goals in order to stay there have shifted away from focus on the rankings and more just getting prepared for the Major Championships and then that takes care of itself. That's how it took care of itself last time.
Q. And winning takes care of everything, but I guess the point was there was emphasis when the three of you guys were kind of musical chairs at the top and it seems like it's already stretched to six, seven, eight, how much deeper is it going to go?
I'm not sure. Majors will tell all. That's normally kind of what you see. It's great. I mean, I think it's cool, I'm not sure the impact that it has on the average golf fan, if they want to see a dominant player or a few dominant players or if they're pleased with six dominant players or six guys that could come, six or seven guys that could come out and win, it's hard for me to speak to that. But I certainly wish there was only like one, it would make that a little bit easier. But there's a lot of young incredible talent that's on the top of their game, going back to the end of last year and to throughout this year. Justin, Hideki, playing as well as anybody, Rory's going to be coming back from injury, obviously he had a great finish to the year, and wish him well coming back. J-Day is going to get in a rhythm. D.J., Henrik, Sergio just won, it's kind of just up for grabs right now is what it feels like. I think that's what you're implying in the question, but the Masters is going to be a really exciting one this year, as it kind of always is, but it's going to take some really strong golf, there's going to be a lot of strong golf played I imagine leading up to it and going into it.
Q. Along with that, you mentioned seven wins in the last two years, most people look at last year and two wins and what you did as a very good year. How do you reflect on it, given what you did the year before, how do you sort of compare the two and look at that in light of the rankings?
Yeah, I think I did a little bit too much comparing of the two. I had to compare the two every time I was on this podium, every week. So, I had a pretty similar answer but a little different each time, I guess. But now it's in the past, I'm trying to create my normal year as an improvement on last year and hopefully getting as close to it as I can to something like 2015. So you start to see over a course of 10, 15, 20 years, these players that are out here for that long, what their average year looks like, what do you expect to see from them. So I'm just trying to make 2017 a little bit better than 2016. I'm trying to improve on where I can and make that in 10 years from now you look back and say 2017 was one of those normal years and hopefully I'm trying to make that be as significant as possible.
Q. What I'm trying to ask is does it make you appreciate how hard what you did in '15 and how hard it will be to do it again, given all this competition?
A hundred percent. And I was clear in 2015 in saying I don't expect this to be all the time. I was not ahead of myself, I was very much in the present, hey, I loved the rhythm that we're in, I don't think this is a streak, I think this is how I want to play and this is normal for me. And, sure, the results, getting the actual results that we had, you got to have some luck involved with the rhythm that you're in, but that kind of play can be the normal for me because I've seen it before. It can happen again. It wasn't like I was just not thinking about my swing during any of these and just hitting it where I'm looking all the time. No, I was just, I found a way, where my short game was on, when I was off with the swing, found a way to score really well and then closed the tournaments out by kind of the right mental attitude and the right execution under pressure. I believe that that can happen and just need to get myself in the position as many times as I can. And this year it's been a goal of mine in these first few events to have a chance to win come Sunday. I've had some top finishes, but I've just started from so far behind. So, starting stronger is going to be a key going forward as we work into the year's first Major.
Q. Apologies for another rankings question, but just out of curiosity, having sat on that No. 1 perch what's the single biggest challenge of that?
Not falling into complacency, just not being satisfied. You can't be satisfied and stay there. There's just too many guys that are too good right behind that are not there that are just trying to work so hard to get there. I probably am working, I have probably been working harder at my game this year from the new year on than I did through those periods in 2015. I just, I want to get back, I want to be back in the winner's circle in a Major. I want to win five plus tournaments in a year. Like, I mean, that was fun, we enjoyed it. And I want to get back there and I want to improve on what needs to be improved. So, yeah, but it's easy to just sit there and say, oh, things are going well, let's just keep doing what we're doing. Well, yeah, that, doing what you're doing got you there, but you almost need that next level, you almost need that next person in front of you. And that's what's amazing about what Tiger's done with the game and his ability to stay there for years and years and years and improve and even when he falls back a little, his falling back was still winning one Major. I mean, it's just amazing what he was capable of doing in his own head to be able to do that. It's nuts. As a player who has reached that and is trying to get back there, I think he's underrated, which is incredible to say, because he's rated the greatest of all time and I still think that what he was able to do mentally, in this game, where so much of it is in your head, for just years and years and years, it's incredible.
Q. Did you ever watch this tournament on TV when you were a kid?
Yeah, definitely. Because it was different and you got to see the combination of these professional golfers with these guys who are just so good at what they do, whatever it is, but they, for whatever reason, can't figure out how to golf and then they come out here and they're hitting shots in front of you, you see how nervous they are. I mean, like Justin Timberlake probably gets nervous here. The guy's one of the most talented individuals in the world and doesn't get nervous hosting Saturday Night Live or going out and performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet he's got 10 eyes on him on a tee box and because it's just an unfamiliar position of what he worked at his whole life, he's nervous. So I thought it was fun to watch. The entertainment side, too, the Bill Murray cracking jokes and then right away hitting a shot and almost making it, like, I mean, I remember stuff like that, it's cool.
Q. On a weather note, I would guess, without doing the math, that since you were 10 years old, the number of good days have well outnumbered the bad days here. Is there something about Pebble that when you think you tend to think of the bad and forget the good?
Yeah, because of, I think that, I think the significant holes, like you just the crazy waves crashing up 18 when it's kind of foggy, windy, rainy in high tied and then 7 guys struggling with this little dinky par-3. I mean when the weather's good it's just a little wedge down there. I say that, the weather was perfect last year and I played it 1-over, but that's another story. But typically that's what happens. You think of just being on the coast line and just -- yeah, I think that that's the case. I think you do kind of think of like the -- bad days isn't the way to say it, but almost just these crazy weather days that just make this Monterey Peninsula kind of meaner on this golf course. I don't look at it as -- like today, I thought it was so cool when I was on 8 tee box and looked over, it was foggy in clouds on number 10. I was like, we're going to be there in a short walk. I thought it was awesome. I think when it's kind of climbing through the hills there and it comes down on to the golf course, it's just, it's a unique place for that.
THE MODERATOR: We appreciate the time. Best of luck.