Jordan's Pre PGA Championship Press Conference

2015 PGA Championship

Jordan's Pre PGA Championship Press Conference

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon, everyone, welcome to the 97th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. I would like to thank Mr. Jordan Spieth for spending some time with us today.

Jordan, welcome to your third PGA Championship. I was curious to know how excited you were a couple weeks ago when your teacher, Cameron McCormick, was named PGA Teacher Of The Year.

JORDAN SPIETH: I was extremely excited. I think it's well deserved. I think it was coming just a matter of time. And really cool this year just on top of everything that's happened with our team for him to receive the most prestigious award for what he does, for all the hard work he puts in, the long hours he puts in, just as do a lot of the majority of PGA of America professionals. I think he's the best in the game, that's why I put all of my trust with him and it's great to see that others think so as well.

So, I'm extremely honored to be working with him and I'm sure he is humbled by it. And it's not going to let his head -- his head won't get big. It was just another day and he's back to working hard again.

JOHN DEVER: I believe you played this course, Whistling Straits, for the first time a couple weeks ago and of course this week, can you give us your early impressions?

JORDAN SPIETH: It's fantastic. I played Sunday and Monday of last week before going to Akron. We played in some heavy winds. I saw the teeth of the golf course.

Coming back this week, it's playing soft, which is a little bit surprising, but it's unbelievably healthy, extremely well manicured. And tomorrow looks like the wind will be up again, so that will be the teeth of the course. If the wind's down I think there's certainly plenty of scorable holes and lower scores will be shot. But tomorrow may be a tougher day to get started. But the course is ready for it. It's a Major Championship ready, the greens are as healthy as I've seen in a long time and they putt extremely well. So, yeah, I think we're all very, very excited.

The bunkers are hazards out here, there's a lot of them. You almost have to approach it like an Open Championship, where even though the bunkers you can advance the ball a little further, the ball can squirt out different directions based on this type of sand. So, you have to almost approach them as hazards and definitely stray away from them.

JOHN DEVER: Questions?

Q. The first question, you checked out a lot of funky lies over the nine holes you played. What are your expectations for the week and how much does mental toughness kind of play into what you might find this week?
Yeah, I checked out a lot of tough lies around the greens. A lot of tricky spots in the rough, because you have a changing rough around the greens from some of it being bluegrass to some of it being a fescue-type grass. It plays extremely different, depending upon where it lies, so I wanted to get a variety of shots. A lot of it is off the edges of the greens and it's worse right off the edges of the greens and right off the fairways, and it seems to be mowed where you would have an into the grain lie and that makes it the most challenging. So I was trying to get as many of those lies as possible, given people are walking off these greens that direction, stomping the grass down to where it makes it harder. So, yeah, I played extremely well yesterday in the game that we played on Tuesday. I didn't miss a the lot of greens. So today it was about a lot more kind of in case tomorrow with the wind being up it's going to be harder to strike the ball extremely well, you've got to be prepared to have those kind of shots.

The mental toughness part, that comes with recognizing you're going to have tough lies, you're going to get tough bounces on a course like this. If you hit it into a sand trap, it could be -- or even into the areas around the bunkers, it can be spotty. So, you have to be prepared for the worst. You've got to be prepared for the best, and everything in between as far as walking up and not knowing exactly where your ball's going to be lying and then trying to pick a plan from there. So that's what we tried to see today, rolling balls off of greens and around greens. I thought we did a good job with it.

Q. Obviously you don't have a chance to win the career Grand Slam but there's still so much to gain here at the PGA Championship.

Q. Not this year but maybe some other year. Was there a period of disappointment that you had to overcome in the last few weeks and tell yourself, there's still so much to gain here?
No, because it was never -- I never really expected myself -- I never -- I looked at the Open Championship as a Major Championship, as an Open Championship and that's it at the time. Of course, after winning the first leg, let alone the first two legs, that talk, that noise starts to come about, but it's still a whole another animal just to win a Major in general.

So, it wasn't expected from my point of view. We wanted to work hard and give ourselves a chance and I felt like if we did that we could pull it off. And unlike the first two Majors I had a chance to win and I didn't pull it off. And that was the hardest part to get over for me. It wasn't coming here, trying to win a Grand Slam. I knew the history of it. I knew what we possibly could have done, but at the same time my frustration was only that we had -- we were tied for the lead with two holes to go with one of them being a birdie hole and we didn't close it out. And we didn't really have, we didn't have, we didn't even get into a playoff. That was the hardest part for me and I certainly have a chip on my shoulder off of that Major that I'm wanting to get off. It was a great week, it was -- with all the surroundings, all the stop -- and the starting and stopping of play, with the crazy winds over there, I thought we our patience level was fantastic, just to have a chance to win. But even in that chance, it is a little bit disappointing not to come away, just as it is any week. So this week I'm looking to try and give myself -- get myself into that position again and see if I can improve on it.

Q. At what point in your youth do you remember hearing about a golfer named Ben Hogan?
I must have been 12 or 13 years old. They have a Ben Hogan Junior Invitational. It's a local Texas junior golf event. So, they take you through a history and I've read about Ben Hogan's history, being a Texas golf legend as well, he and Byron Nelson is certainly two guys to look up to on and off the course. I know he did some incredible things before and after an almost fatal car crash and his mental strength and his work ethic are second to none. It's inspiring.

Q. I know it's been only two but you've missed the cut in both your PGA Championships. One, does that irk you and two, has it done anything for you to change your way of getting prepared for this week?
Yeah, it irks me a bit. It's frustrating at any tournament if you miss a cut, let alone if you miss a cut multiple times in an event similar to like San Diego on the PGA TOUR schedule. I've played three times now and missed the cut twice. That bothers me. Because I feel like I can play that golf course well. I did the in between year.

Yeah, any time -- I mean, you set out to prepare to play your best golf in the Major Championships. So, if you walk in -- if you go into a Major, especially the last one, where it is your last opportunity to use that Major Championship formula that year, put it in place, and to go in and to leave Friday or Saturday, not be able to play the weekend and watch it on TV, it's a bad feeling. It's one I don't want to experience.

It's not going to impact me whatsoever this week, but certainly looking back those were a couple frustrating weeks for me the last couple years. It was the only -- I played the U.S. Open, well I played three Majors in 2013, and missed the cut in two of them. And we have been improving each year in the Major championships. This year if I can get in contention again and just not only get over that hurdle of making the cut at a PGA Championship, but also trying to contend to win, I think we're going to be a lot more mature in that situation.

Q. Obviously an awful lot of people were looking forward to seeing potentially you going head-to-head with Rory at St. Andrews and of course that didn't happen. How does the dynamic change for you now that he is back from injury and obviously you're playing with him tomorrow and Friday?
I think that's just what you guys want to see. I think he and I just want to go out there and try and win the tournament. If we have to -- I mean we have to beat each other in order to do that, along with 100 and how many people are in the event.


JORDAN SPIETH: 155 other guys. It's great. We're all very happy to see him back. I was excited and what an incredible rehab that was to get back so soon and to get to a hundred percent. Because I know he wouldn't play unless he was, especially on this golf course. It's a tough course to walk.

So, I'm excited. I'm excited to just share a couple days with Rory and Zach as well. I played with Zach last week, he's a good friend of mine. We're going to have a good time, us three, and hopefully we can all feed off each other these two days. Hopefully we can all get into contention and it will certainly be exciting.

Q. When you were amateur, Hideki Matsuyama ranked first on World Ranking and you two were rivals, but you won the Masters first. What is your impression of him and what do you think is the chance of winning a Major for him?
Hideki is a great player, he's a super nice guy, he and Shindo are very nice people. I've played a lot of golf with him. I think it's just a matter of time. His game is certainly Major Championship ready. There's no doubt that he'll win Majors I think in his career. For him it's just a matter of getting himself into the position enough times to where it will go his way, a couple of those putts will go in on the back nine and I think that's what it will come down to. I don't think it's -- I don't think he has to do anything differently, I think he's ready already.

Q. Did you prevail in your match against the Jones boys? And secondly, as someone who grew up in a competitive environment with a brother like that, what are your thoughts on two brothers playing in a Major Championship?
Yeah, we just had a little like birdie Skins type thing and I think I edged him out I'm not sure. We were having some fun. Just two of the nicest people around. Matt and Brett. I think it's awesome. I couldn't even imagine being somewhere on this stage in the same sport with my brother, given we separated in what we were doing so long ago. And I root so hard for him that it would be just a weird scenario actually playing against him as well. Obviously I'd still I would still be rooting for him to play his best, but I mean what a cool experience for that family. I know Matt has his couple girls and Brett has his couple boys here. So they kind of have a family reunion while still such an exciting week for them. Matt approached me awhile back, asking if I wanted to play nine holes with them and I said yeah, absolutely and I'm glad we could make it work today. And we had a great time with it and I really wish them both the best as Matt is a buddy on TOUR and Brett, I think it's his first really PGA TOUR start in his career. So, it will be an exciting tee shot for him tomorrow and hopefully he gets off and running.

Q. Jordan, for those of us who follow you from Illinois there's some changes on the TOUR schedule next year and you could be at the Olympics and possibly not back at John Deere. Any disappointment maybe not being able to go back and defend your title there next year?
Yeah, certainly disappointing that they're the same week. It's obvious the decision I would make, but at the same time, it's a tournament that's close to my heart and one that I hope to get back to some day, depending upon how the schedules fall. When I saw the 2016 schedule and the Olympics fall on the same date, sure, I was a little disappointed about it for a tournament that I feel is a good golf course for me and one that each year we kind of get some momentum off of. The people there are so fantastic that it hopefully it will be hard missing them at least for a year.

Q. Given what you said about preparing for some Whistling Straits peculiar shots, is that more important this week than the length off the tee or anything like that? Whether you're a long hitter, short hitter, some of the things that you might encounter once the ball comes to rest?
Yeah, I think so. And that's what's changed significantly from my impressions coming in before I had played. I thought it was going to be more of a bomber's paradise. The fairways are very narrow here and the rough is thick enough to where it affects these approach shots where you really, really do need to be in the fairway. The bunkers can be a little inconsistent, which is what they want to be. That's not a negative term by any means. That's just the way it is, the type of sand it is. You can catch a good lie and you can catch a lie where it's tough to advance it without hitting it thin. So I think there's more of a premium on hitting a fairway than there is on just bombing it out there and playing in from there.

Other holes, certain holes, No. 4, with the right wind, can be a big advantage for those guys that can carry it 315. Because then they can get it all the way down the slope and the wider fairway and hit a wedge in. But there's very few of those holes.

No. 5 with the new tee box, it takes two really good shots with the correct wind to be able to reach it anyways. And it's not even necessarily that worth it.

So, yeah, I think it's more about ball control off of uneven lies and being able to control your distances well to keep the ball on the greens.

Q. Is there any particular part of Rory's game that you envy or anything that you think he does particularly well that you wish you did?
Sure, I wish I could hit it as far as he does, yeah. I wish -- I work towards that. I've gotten a little bit longer each year and hopefully can continue to do so. But the way he hits, when he's driving the ball well, just like Dustin, just like Bubba, when they're hitting the ball straight with as far as they do, they're playing a different golf course. And I certainly envy that. There's not much I can do about it right now except try to hit my approaches even closer and make a few more putts. But, yeah, Rory's an inspiring player, as you guys already know, and I enjoy playing with him. It's fun when you can feed off guys that are incredible golfers, but that's kind of everyone that we play with week-to-week now.

Q. I always appreciate you saying "we" instead of "I," your humility, is that something your parents taught you?
I don't know, I just, I figure I have, Michael's with me on the course, he's the one that's a part of each decision that we make as far as preparing for what we do. I have Cameron, I have my trainer Damon, sports chiro, manager, everybody gets stuff ready for us to play our best golf. I'm the one hitting the shots and hitting the putts and getting the credit, I guess, but at the same time I believe that this is a -- we're a brand, we're a company, we're -- this is --we're competing together all for the same goal. And I try to align myself with the best at what they do in the world, because then that will free me up, I won't have to worry about any other parts of my life on and off the course and it seems to be working. We got a great team and no one's been scared of the next level and that's why we are where we are right now. So, I believe that on and off the course it's not just me.

Q. How would you compare Chambers Bay to Whistling Straits? More challenging? Comparisons?
Very different. The views are pretty similar. They're both beautiful golf courses. I like golf courses alongside water, bodies of water. Chambers was brown. This is green. This is lush rough, Chambers was very little rough. It was just hit the fairways or play out of sand traps. You could also run the ball up certain holes at Chambers. You can't do that here. Especially with the softer conditions. This doesn't play like a links golf course at all. Chambers was as close on American links as I've played to playing overseas. But it was also still not the same.

The three courses other than Augusta National, three Major Championship golf courses this year, all play extremely different from the next. This is more of a -- Chambers was more of a premium on driving. Chambers was more of a bombers' cause I felt like. You could get away with missing some drives and as long as you hit it out there a ways it was advantageous on a lot of holes.

This one I think, as the week goes on, if the wind's up, if the greens firm up, there's more of a premium on hitting the small areas of the fairway. And in that I think it's more of a tee to green and kind of controlling off of uneven lies. Chambers Bay was more of an imagination around the greens.

Q. How did you get Justin Thomas as your partner yesterday? Was there a specific setting over the years where you guys first met and became close and can you just kind of give us, tell us your best Justin story?
He texted me and asked if I wanted to be in the game. Justin and Phil had put it together. Phil said he will bring Rickie and Justin said I'll get Jordan. So that was easy for me.

I met Justin when I was 13, he was 14. Or we maybe were both 13 or 14 at the time. At an AJGA, National Junior Golf event for like the I want to say 14 to 16 year old age group in Texas. And he and I were in the last group. It was a two day tournament, and we battled it out. And I edged him out that day and then he edged me out throughout -- we kind of went back and forth throughout the that year and then became close and started to travel the same tournaments. And when I started to branch out and play more national golf he was already traveling quite a bit and we became very close, yeah, good buddies. We have played together in those kind of matches a lot over the years. We have also played against each other a lot. And in through college and now out here. So, it's cool. It's great to have good friends like him and Mariano who's been playing over on the European Tour is going to work his way back over here. Daniel Berger was in our class, Ollie Schniederjans. It's really cool to have these guys, I wish we had a picture of all of us from a player dining dinner time at a national AJGA event. You would see -- in our same class you would see seven or eight noticeable faces that are going to be on the PGA TOUR next year. And I think that's pretty amazing. I don't know if that's happened in any other class so it's great to see these good friends for a lot of years come out here and take on the TOUR.

Q. During your career you've proven to be a quick learner, whether it was Augusta a couple years ago or St. Andrews just last month. How do you explain your ability to process information so quickly the first time you see a golf course?
The first time you see a golf course? I didn't really have another choice. You either do it or you don't have a job. When I first came out. I mean, if you don't learn quickly how to play golf courses that you haven't played before, you're going to be very, very far behind. It's going to be tough to adjust. I don't know how, other than just realizing that it was live or die. We do a good job of dissecting the most important information on courses. We know where my misses are, what my tendencies are. We're able to dissect those early to then in practice rounds understand where I would commonly miss a shot and be able to practice from there. So then I have it in the tournament and I've already seen it.

So it's just about visualizing what you've already seen and recognizing that playing the way I played growing up will work on the PGA TOUR, other than maybe dialing back that aggressiveness, just a little bit, in certain times. So that was a little -- there are tournaments where I certainly lost tournaments that I should have won based on playing too conservatively and ones I've played too aggressive over these past couple years and we found the right balance. And in these ones that I have closed it out and even we found the right balance in the ones I didn't close out but other guys just played a little bit better. So it's just about really trial and error.

Q. How would you say your life has changed in the last few months?
Starting to notice a little difference really instead of being recognized in and around Dallas and Austin and really the state of Texas, at dinners and wherever you go, just people recognizing you there, now it kind of happens every where. Recognizing that people, I guess now, pay attention more to the Majors than anywhere else and so the last throughout the last few months it's harder to get around. You've got to find different ways to go about it, find secret passageway places and whatever it is, find corner booths. But at the same time it's not negative, it's something that's really cool, it's a great problem to have. I wouldn't want it any other way, I really wouldn't. But there are certain things you can and can't do that you maybe could before. But also great new opportunities have opened themselves up that I wouldn't have ever dreamt of having. So, it's mostly all good. And a couple -- if you want to have a quiet dinner, you better bring it home to your house. I mean that's about it.

Q. Two things, if you had a goal of being No. 1 in the world did you ever set a time frame for when you wanted to see that happen? And secondly, if your goal at the start of the year was to make the cut in all the Majors and get in contention in one of them, what do you do now?
I did not have a time frame set like that. When that was a goal that was just a career goal at one point in my career I would like to be. Given everything that's happened, I believe now that I would like it obviously to be sooner rather than later and then to be able to hold on to it. That's a whole other animal as I'm sure Rory knows, Adam Scott knows, Luke Donald knows, there's Tiger, these guys that are in this field, Martin Kaymer, there's Vijay, there's a number of them that understand what it's like. I don't know what that feels like yet. That will be a new goal, if I can accomplish the one prior at some point in my career.

Yeah, I still haven't accomplished that goal set at the beginning of the year that I said I wanted to make the cut in all the Majors, I hadn't done that before. And you wanted to contend and have a chance to win at least one of them. Certainly they have gone according to plan up to this point but that first part of that goal has yet to be accomplished so I got some work to do these first two days and from there we'll adjust and work our butts off to try and get a third Major this year, which would be a pretty cool place in history to be a part of.

JOHN DEVER: Jordan Spieth, getting bumped by Dustin, who will start in about five minutes. Thanks for your time and have a great week.