2018 PGA Championship: Preview Day 2 - Press Conference

2018 PGA Championship

"The PGA of America Does a Phenomenal Job"

THE MODERATOR: Good morning again and welcome back to the 100th PGA Championship. Pleased to be joined by three-time Major champion Jordan Spieth. Jordan, welcome back to Bellerive and what is your sixth PGA Championship. Played well in Majors this year, a couple top-10s. What's going to need to happen to get you back over the hump and in the winner's circle Sunday?

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, first of all, getting into position to have a chance on Sunday, that's been a rare case for me this year. So a situation like The Open, where I was really patient the first few rounds, kind of let it come to me. This course will play softer and longer than the other Majors this year. And then with big flat greens, lag putting is going to be key.

So just trying to stay in every hole, limit the big numbers, limit -- try and not make bogey or worse score and then obviously run some putts in from mid-range will be the key.

THE MODERATOR: You didn't have a lot of experience here at Bellerive. What were your impressions of the golf course? Is this the first week you played it, or had you ever been here before?

JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I played 18 holes yesterday. It's a good golf course. The rough's a little interesting to me. They mowed down grain for a couple yards and then into the grain and then down grain and then into the grain. I'm not sure if it was for aesthetics or what, but that make it a bit luck-based when you hit the ball into the rough. But the course itself has a lot of -- it has a great mix of longer and shorter holes that dogleg both directions. You got to hit different clubs off the tee, different shots into the greens, and I don't think it necessarily favors any one kind of player.

I think, if I'm not mistaken, in 2008, when the PGA TOUR came here, there were a mix of long hitters and short hitters that were all in contention. So even though it's going to be softer and wet, it's got the potential for I think anybody to work their way up the board.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was your take-away from the final round at Carnoustie?

I was disappointed. I really thought -- I felt good going into the round. I actually felt as comfortable as I ever have on a major championship Sunday. I liked where my ball striking was. I liked the progression in the putting, and I just -- that I needed to get through the first probably eight holes at even par as we played into the breeze there and then be able to turn around and shoot 1 or 2-under on the back, and 5 and 6 really hurt off of shots that I could control. So just two bad swings that kind of put me from controlling my own destiny to having to come from behind.

So certainly learned from it. I don't think I could have done a whole lot differently. I just didn't play the conditions the right way, which I would say is abnormal historically for me. So the course changed a lot on that Sunday and just played a couple shots five yards off of where I really meant to hit them, and that was enough to throw you behind. Then I just didn't make any putts, but I hit good putts, so sometimes that happens.

2018 PGA Championship: Preview Day 2 - Signing Autographs


Q. You went into this tournament last year seeking a win to complete the career Grand Slam. What did you learn from that experience, do you feel, that will serve you well going into this year's tournament and that whole experience, the mindset, etcetera?

I think I was probably a little more anxious last year. I think, going in, there was a big focus on it, given it was right after The Open Championship, after winning The Open Championship, so it was fresh, I was in form, and going to a place that, if I worked up the leaderboard, it would create a lot of noise. I feel somewhat under the radar this year. I've kind of felt that way a lot this year, I don't mind it.

But at the same time, this tournament will always be circled until I'm able to hopefully win it some day. It will always be circled to complete the career Grand Slam, which will ultimately achieve a life-long goal for me. So certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee, just more going into the week.

Q. Along those same lines, do you have to -- you talked about being patient and letting it come to you last year at The Open Championship. Do you have, to some degree, do that -- in theory, you're going to have a lot of chances to pick up a PGA in your career -- to maybe be a little patient with that and not try to jump it and say I got to do this right now and that kind of thing?

Yeah, I don't think, like I was just saying, I don't think -- if I were to get myself into contention this week or next year or whatever, I don't think that plays any part in forcing anything. I think I'll approach it as in this is a golf tournament that I have a chance to win, go about how you go about any other Saturday and Sunday trying to win.

So pick your spots when you get good numbers and really pick apart the golf course, figure out where the right misses are, figure out how to protect par as the worst score, and kind of get a feel for what the scores are that day, what's -- where attack mode is, where -- if scores are 1 or 2-under, then you obviously feel like you've got to play for the fatter parts of greens. But if guys are tearing it up, you start to see that you can maybe attack a little bit more.

And it's nice, going off late in the weekend on a Major, you do get to see a lot of golf, and you get to watch it -- there's full coverage from really everybody that starts out that morning, so you really get to see the pin positions and where balls feed to, where putts are made from.

2018 PGA Championship: Preview Day 2 - Bunker Shot


Q. You're sort of known for meticulous preparations and game planning how you want to play the golf course. Bellerive is different in that throughout the course you have level lies almost all the way through the golf course, it seems like. How easy is it to get comfortable on a course like this?

I wouldn't say -- I would say average. I would say not any easier, not any harder than -- nothing really stuck out as being difficult to game plan. But at the same time there are a lot of, you get a few blind tee shots and then a lot of holes that turn one way or the other. And then they have done a really good job bunkering the course.

So I think we have, after seeing it once, a pretty good idea. We talked through it a lot yesterday during the practice round I did with Michael and Cameron, and it's more really around the greens than it is tee to green out here on where your leaves are. Because you could have a lot of 30, 40 yard bunker shots, with the greens being so massive, you get yourself on the wrong side and it feeds into a sand trap. That's where it's going to be pretty difficult is there's so many shelves, and if you don't leave yourself in the right position around the greens, it's very difficult to chip the ball close.

Q. A question about your putting. How do you decide when to look at the ball and when to look at the hole, and do you know of anyone else that looks at the hole on their short putts?

No, I don't know of anyone else that does it. I haven't been doing it much at all since I've kind of been trying to train my eyes back to the line of my putter. It was kind of a weapon that I was able to use, but now I've kind of lined the ball up, and I'm able to kind of look almost an imaginary chalk line along the line of the ball and kind of look at a spot ahead of the ball, and I'm finding that to be really useful right now. So I actually haven't been looking at the hole much at all this year, last year.

But, again, it was kind of a weapon that kind of took -- made me more of a feel putter from short range versus a very technical putter and trying to be perfect, because you don't have to be, and hopefully that weapon will come back. I'm starting to really see where my putter's pointed and if we're stroking it to that line very consistently now, and putting's starting to really come back from that mid-range game.

2018 PGA Championship: Preview Day 1 - On the Course


Q. Players by and large tend to like the setup of the PGA, it seems. How would you describe the character or the flavor of this championship compared to the other Majors? And also, the move to May, how is that going to affect the rhythm of the whole golf season?

I think the PGA of America does a phenomenal job for us. Every PGA Championship we come to is extremely convenient -- checking in, the facilities, your access to the facilities, the staff, they're phenomenal. They run a world class event here and at the Ryder Cup. How do you -- there's -- it's difficult because the PGA Championships can be won at 3 or 4-under and they can be won at 14 or 15-under.

And I don't think the PGA of America really cares. They want a really, obviously, a stern, tough test, but if conditions like we're getting today are going to dictate a championship, then they're not going to go out there and try and prove anything or do anything -- or mess up a course, in other words, or try and do too much to bring a score somewhere. So I think you look at it as a probably a really challenging, difficult PGA TOUR event with the aura of a major championship and certainly the most difficult field in all of golf, the most competitive field in all of golf.

To be able to label it as a major championship, it's -- I think players really look at the PGA Championship very positively. And then the move to May, I think, opens up a lot more venues that can you go to. You can move further south, you can go to really anywhere in the country in May and have an opportunity to play maybe -- I don't know how many other courses would open up, 10 to 20 other golf courses that they wouldn't necessarily be able to use this time of year. So I think it's awesome.

I think that next year's Major schedule will flow really nicely, one in April, May, June and July. And you can get on a nice -- if you get on a nice run playing some good golf there, starting at the Masters, you can really let it run through the entire Major season.

Q. Some people have said we could see some crazy low scoring out here this week with the conditions and the weather. Do you see that or no?

Yeah, I think you can. I think it's certainly -- yeah, but that's what I saw off of yesterday. The Zoysia fairways and Zoysia around the greens, and then you can be short sided and you're actually not in that much trouble here. There's extra room with the fringes and the fairway off the bunkers that you don't have to be as precise around the greens as you maybe would on Bermuda, which is typical around here or further south.

So I think you'll see guys shoot some low scores, given when they get into trouble you're not going to see that many bogeys or doubles, or if you keep the ball in front of you and into the right location around the greens, you really can make sure that you have at least an uphill at worst 10-footer for par on just about any hole. There are some meaty holes out there where you really have to drive the ball well and hit a good long iron into the green, but there also are a lot of wedge opportunities that you can feed into these sections of the greens.

That will be really exciting. You'll see some hole outs this week by the look of this golf course. We already had a couple yesterday, which is great. There's nothing wrong with that at all. It's still a fantastic test of golf out there.

2018 PGA Championship: Preview Day 1 - On the Course


Q. How often do you see Zoysia?

Not much, maybe threes four times a year. East Lake, the new Trinity Forest has a different strand of Zoysia. Yeah, there's a few times, but it's rare, especially around greens.

Q. A few weeks on, what's your view now of the hair dressing in Scotland, and what sort of reaction did you get when you unveiled your hair style when you came back home?

I don't know what the big deal was with. I got a haircut. I felt my hair was getting long, and so I went and I got a haircut, and they cut it short. I mean, it's fine. It's all good.

Q. Can you talk about managing the ups and downs of results in Majors emotionally. I had the opportunity to talk to your dad about a week after Carnoustie, and he was even surprised with how well you handled it afterwards.

Yeah, just goes back to if you put yourself in the position enough times, you're going to have some go your way and some that don't go your way. Again, Carnoustie on Sunday, I went over it with Cameron and I misplayed a couple of iron shots off tee boxes, 5 and 15, where it was straight down wind and I played too much curve and the ball's just not going to curve straight down wind. Just like a simple, if I lined up four yards, five yards one way versus the other, that saves me two shots there. And then I made a double on 6. I still think it was the smart decision given it took what I thought was the most trouble out of play. I got a bad break into a gorse the size of this (indicating).

And then I've had instances where, like Chambers Bay, where I didn't think I won when I finished, and then I ended up winning the golf tournament. So it goes both ways. Look at Jack Nicklaus's career. There's a perfect example of it, with 19 seconds and 18 Majors and, I don't know, probably 40 Top-5s, I don't know the exact numbers, but the point is you put yourself in position enough, it will go your way sometimes, and sometimes it won't. And it's easier to accept if that's the way you look at it.

Q. Three part question just so that I don't have to get back to it. But could you explain your connection with family here in St. Louis, how big the ticket demand was this week, and if it will be an opportunity for some family and friends to see you play who haven't seen you play before?

Yeah, my mom's side of my family comes from St. Louis. My mom doesn't, but my grandpa was born here and raised here, and so it's a lot of my mom's cousins, so not like my first cousins. But there's a few family members that have traveled from St. Louis and seen me play before, but there will be quite a few out that haven't that get the opportunity here, which is really cool. Ticket demand, I'm not sure. I think it was high, but my parents were, I think, feeding that in through Jay over there, so that's -- I haven't been really focused on that or I'm not even sure about it, but I'm sure it's high.

The PGA of America's done a great job of helping out, and, yeah, it should be -- it's really fun when you get an opportunity to play in front of family, and my grandpa will be out here this week, and I love having him around. He comes to as many as he can.

Q. Name? Your grandpa's name?

Bob Julius. I call him Gramps. He's -- yeah, he goes by -- he'll introduce himself as Gramps, yeah.

Q. If you had your choice, would you come into the Major under the radar or one of the brighter dots on the radar screen?

In form. I like to come in in form. As far as the outside, outsider's view, I always -- I've been in pairings that draw big crowds, like feature type pairings in Majors, so you feel like you're -- I don't know how you word it -- a bright spot, pretty much every Major. Even if you come in with the focus -- if Tiger's playing, obviously, focus first and foremost on Tiger, and then you go off of who's been hot -- D.J., J.T., J.T., obviously, trying to defend. So in some sense I feel under the radar, but at the same time, after one round it changes.

So ideally, going into Sunday you're a bright spot. You're not under the radar, right? So first and foremost is trying to be in form.

Q. Picking up on the under the radar theme, the desire to get that next victory, to what extent, if any, does it increase the self pressure if you like?

To get a PGA Championship?

Q. To get that next victory. Just that next victory, whether it be this Major, any victory of any kind, to what extent does it, do you feel that pressure from your own very high standards?

Yeah, I mean each week, if I don't have a chance to win on Sunday, I'm disappointed waking up. And certainly go out there and try my best and compete. But I understand this year's been kind of a building year for me, and I've been working back towards the level that I like to be at, and it's getting close and certainly starting to see some results from it, through The Open Championship.

If I look back, I try and focus on four tournaments a year, I have a huge emphasis on them, and two of them I've had a chance to win on Sunday this year. So if I'm looking at it from that standpoint, it's kind of mission accomplished with one to go. But obviously, getting in the winner's circle when it's been over a year is something that I obviously would like to do. But I don't feel any added pressure from it, I won't, but if it happens or doesn't happen through the rest of this calendar year, I'm working in the right direction, I'm doing the right things, and again you get yourself in position enough, the bounces will go your way.

Q. Obviously you're no stranger to Majors. There's a lot of young guys like yourself that are big names now. Do you see -- and you hang out with a lot of them in your free time. Do you think that that's kind of taking the game in a different direction? Because you didn't really see that in the past the way that you do with you and guys like J.T. and Rickie and things like that. And then the second part to the question, other than yourself, do you have a favorite to win out here this week?

Do I think it's changing the shape of the game? I think there's -- I think the game's in a cool place right now. You have a mixture of Tiger and Phil playing awesome golf. Mixed with guys in their early mid-30s that are playing fantastic golf. D.J. being No. 1 in the world. D.J. still No. 1 in the world or did J.T.? Yeah. So playing -- winning a few times a year, Bubba back to winning a few times in a year. And then you have your mid-20s players that are able to compete in any tournament as well.

So it's kind of really cool because it shows what golf's all about, which is you can play when you're 8 years old and you can play when you're 80 years old, and I don't know of another sport where you can do that. So it's a little more condensed version on the PGA TOUR of only a few decades, but it's unique. It's in a unique position right now. The younger generation coming out and being able to win it, we really owe that to the Junior golf circuits nowadays, the college golf, amateur golf circuits being deeper, better golf courses, more access to being able to play international events, and so I don't think that's going to change going forward.

Q. You talked about curving the ball. All the purpose of golf club's design is hitting it straight. Do you think you can play golf with a straighter club without curving the ball?

I don't like hitting straight ball flights. I like seeing the ball curve. I like making it curve. It's easier for me for my misses. So a left pin, I always on the range am trying to work draw patterns with the intent that they under draw, they don't quite reach the target. And then the same with the fades, to work off the middle of greens and fade towards the pin. And that's just the way I've always liked to play. It frees me up when I'm over my shots and allows me to -- if I've practiced it enough and I have good enough control, I know that my miss is still going to be on the green putting. And that's -- when I'm at my best that's the kind of golf that I'm playing.

So we can still move the ball enough. I'm not talking about Bubba Watson curves for me, but I'm talking 5 to 10-yard draws, and the technology is being designed to hit straighter and straighter, lower spin, lower spin, right, for more distance, but I've got a good combination in my bag that I think allows me to do what I like to do with it.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you for your time, Jordan, enjoy your week in St. Louis and your time with your family.

JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you.