AT&T National interview: Jordan SpiethJune 28, 2013
Q. No birdies there on the back nine, does that give you confidence going into tomorrow, or a little bit of a drag not getting them where you want?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, it gives me confidence. Obviously, I felt the nerves, just like anybody does, first time, trying to win for the first time, when you see yourself in the lead, whether it's the first hole in the tournament or the middle of the second round.
Yeah, I was happy with the way my ball striking held up, and I hit good putts. I didn't start walking right after any of those putts. I thought they were going in on most of them and just barely misread them.
So definitely take a lot of confidence out of that into tomorrow, and hopefully they'll fall.
Q. That 25‑footer on 1 that you had, how does that kind of feed your energy to start the day?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, that pin position's tough, and if I miss the putt, the closest I can be is four feet with where the pin is. I didn't hit a great wedge in there. I was pretty upset with myself.
Just wanted to ‑‑ going into the day, I really just wanted to play the way I played yesterday, just hit my mid‑irons a little better. I put myself in positions to where you can make a putt like that because I had enough of them today.
When one drops ‑‑ when a putt drops on No. 1, there's never a better feeling than to start under par for a round. So fortunately, I was able to take that momentum into the front nine.
Q. Anything significantly different in the way the course played today than yesterday?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, I don't think so. I think it's just a touch firmer. Balls are rolling out a little more on the fairway, and the green, it's just bouncing a little more, but they're still receptive.
Q. How much of a leaderboard watcher are you? Is that something you like to see on Friday?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I was looking. I wasn't staring at it. I don't study it. I like to know where I'm at. Probably should do a little less than I do, but I saw I was getting up there towards the lead and leading, and from there, you don't try and stall like I did on the back nine, I guess.
But I was trying to push for a couple more birdies and almost had them.
Q. You're going to turn 20 this month, right?
JORDAN SPIETH: In a month, yeah.
Q. End of July?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes.
Q. How would it feel if you won, if you just kept going, playing the way you are?
JORDAN SPIETH: It would be huge. I can't really think about that at this point. It's only halfway through the round ‑‑ or through the tournament. So there's a long way to go.
Honestly, I'm kind of free swinging, though. I've gotten in a position where I can play a pretty full schedule this year, and I know I'll have my card for next year.
Now all there is left to do is try and get a win to make the playoffs. That's the only way I can make the playoffs this year. So I'm just going out there trying to win and being aggressive, and hopefully it will work out for me.
Q. With the way you're playing right now and the fact that you're on track for your Tour card, how important have the sponsor exemptions been for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Very. I mean, it's unbelievable what tournaments have done for me and given me the opportunity to play at the beginning of the year. Even after earning special temporary status, it's still not ‑‑ I mean, it's not a given. Obviously, I can't explain how much I appreciate the tournaments giving me exemptions.
I just got one for next week now too. So I can play a few in a row here while I'm playing well and hopefully ride that momentum.
Q. Is the routine any different on a Friday night when you're at the top of the leaderboard?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't think so. I'm just going to ‑‑ I got a lot of family here. So probably just hang with them and get some dinner and just do the same thing I've been doing every other night.
THE MODERATOR: 7 under par through two rounds, Jordan Spieth joins us in the interview room at AT&T National. 5 under par, 66 today. Great playing.
If we can get some comments on your round.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it kind of went by fast, to be honest. I got off to a great start with making a 20, 25‑footer on 1 that kind of slipped in. Yesterday I actually gave myself a lot of great opportunities to shoot a few strokes better, and I didn't make a putt outside of about eight feet, which was on the last hole.
So I was looking for improving on my putting today. Got off to a hot start right there on 1. Able to make the turn at 5 under. Obviously, the back nine is a lot more difficult out here. There's only a couple of opportunities for birdie.
I gave myself a lot of chances and hit great putts that didn't quite fall, but I had them fall on the front nine. So all in all evened out, felt like a really solid round. I'm excited for what the weekend's going to bring.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go right into questions.
Q. How would you just describe the year in general? What has surprised you? What has been exactly the same as you expected?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, it's been a great dream come true this year. Starting out, I didn't think I'd know where I was going to be. I didn't know where I was going to go each week for the year. To be able to be in a position where I can receive exemptions from tournaments, it's just ‑‑ it's awesome.
Honestly, as far as the surprise, I'm not sure anything has really surprised me, I guess, as far as being on the Tour. I mean, obviously, it's a lot of travel, but it's a lot of fun. And I'm excited for, hopefully, staying out here as long as I can.
Q. Kind of in an interesting spot right now from the standpoint, I wouldn't call it no man's land, but you're set for next year. You're not in the playoffs, and you really pretty much have to wait until October to be a member unless you win.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, exactly. Honestly, I think it's a great position to be in. I'm just free swinging.
Like you said, I can't be in the playoffs unless I win, and that's ‑‑ that makes winning the number one goal. You'd like to get in the playoffs and play against the top players, the best players from this year in events where the points matter more. It's everyone's goal out here to win the FedEx Cup. My goal is to move up the world rankings as much as I can, and that's the way to do it is to get into those playoffs.
So, yeah, I'm not in a position where I need to fight for tied 13th and earn X and X amount of dollars. I'm able to get out here and go for some more pins and to try and get the win.
Q. On the other hand, I was thinking about this coming in. I hear that a lot, free wheeling or free swinging or whatever. It almost makes it sound like a scramble, which is the worst thing for a guy's game, to get up there and just swing for the fences. You still have to go through the process of positioning yourself.
JORDAN SPIETH: I just think playing like I did today. Pins that were tucked when I had a mid‑iron in my hand, I'm looking at a tree behind the middle of the green. I'm looking at the TV tower, and I'm saying start it there and work it off. If I miss, it's just going to be a straight one, and you give yourself a 20‑footer.
In order to be in that position, you've got to drive the ball really well. I think that was the key today. I just need to not think too far ahead this weekend. We're only halfway through the tournament. So there's a long way to go. I'm happy with what I'm doing as far as hitting it in the greens.
Q. Otherwise, the season's almost over for you this year?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I still have ‑‑ I'm in the next two, and I'll play a couple more after that. I'll still have a good amount of events.
Q. You've got Greenbriar, Deere, and then ‑‑
JORDAN SPIETH: After that, I'm not exactly sure. I know I can get into a couple of other events.
Q. Greensboro, Canada, maybe a couple others. There's only about five events left.
JORDAN SPIETH: Right.
Q. Jordan, you mentioned in the flash area you don't remember Tiger winning his first Major. You were like 3 years old at the time. What's the first tournament you do remember watching?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, I remember watching the 2000 U.S. Open vaguely. I remember just a little bit. Yeah, I mean, I used to watch all the PGA Tour events as much as I could, but that one stuck with me obviously. You don't normally see a guy win a Major by 11 shots, is that right?
So, yeah, that's the first tournament I think I can recall watching on TV.
Q. It was 15, but you were young then. I'll forgive the math.
JORDAN SPIETH: It was 15. I'm sorry. I did not mean to insult him.
Q. Your caddie said that you told him that you feel like you've matured since the beginning of the year. How do you work on that? You can go to the range and work on your swing. You can go to the practice green and work on your putting. How do you work on your maturity?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's just kind of when I'm getting ready to go out in the round and standing on the 1st tee, I just need to remind myself that, if I get upset, all it's going to do is bring me down.
I feel like I did a great job ‑‑ obviously, when you're playing well, it's a lot easier to be in a good mind, but even the last few weeks when I've missed cuts ‑‑ you know, I missed the cut at The Open, I feel like I handled myself really well and gave myself a chance to almost make the cut because of that whereas in the past I may have thrown myself out way early.
I just need to sit back and say who cares? It's just a round of golf, and there's no reason to really stress about each and every shot. What's going to happen is going to happen. Just got to go out there and prepare on the range, be confident, and if you get a bad break, everyone's going to get bad breaks.
Q. Jordan, hit all 18 greens today. You recall the last time you did that? And secondly, are you surprised, I guess, at just the rapid development and the way the season's gone in terms of how the goals have changed and that sort of thing coming into what they are now?
JORDAN SPIETH: I couldn't tell you when I hit ‑‑ the last time I hit 18 greens in a round. It may have been recently. It may not have been. I don't normally keep track.
I've been striking the ball really well this year, and that's been the biggest improvement from past years in my game. Obviously, playing on a college course, in a college tournament versus a PGA Tour event is a little different.
But as far as what I see when I'm at home practicing, I just put more work into it. Being able to have the confidence where I step in with a 7 iron and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to strike it at the ground, I'm just thinking about the ball flight, and I normally like to think about one or two things in my swing, that definitely helps.
Continuing to work with the putter throughout this year has been a big key to knocking in some of those putts when I do hit all those greens, and that's been what's ‑‑ the weeks where I've had top tens or played well are the weeks where my putter's been on.
Q. Some of the broadcasters and some of the legends in the game have talked about the promise you have in your game. Do they reach out to you and talk to you at all? Do they give you advice on how to handle either the Tour play or the circus that surrounds it? Have you had a chance to talk to some of them?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not exactly. I've watched coverage of it, and obviously, that's a tremendous honor from a lot of the players ‑‑ or the ‑‑ I say players. Past players that have said that.
Where I used to practice in Dallas, I used to see Mr. Trevino a lot and Mr. Watkins. I'm friends with his son. Those guys offer advice to me. Obviously, Lee's normally ‑‑ Lee Trevino's is normally off the course, but it's great when you can hear from legends of the game and they speak highly of me. All that does is just build confidence in myself.
Q. When they either say it on television or the broadcasters say it, does that add pressure at all to you, or do you feel it's just a nice pat on the back?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not exactly. I mean, honestly, I'm extremely happy with the position I'm in, but I'm still very, very far from the goals that I set for myself when I was young, and I've got a long way to go. At this point, like we mentioned earlier, for this year I'm free swinging, and that's a great position to be in, I think.
We're just going to have to ‑‑ I'd like to play the same way this weekend as I did these first two days, and then we'll see what the future holds.
Q. Speaking of advice, Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers, they're going to have a pretty big decision to make after the Walker Cup. Have they reached out to you, or have you given them any advice, or what advice would you give them in terms of whether to turn pro?
JORDAN SPIETH: Honestly, I talk to Justin all the time. I talk to Patrick some too. Patrick was my partner at the last Walker Cup, my alternate shot partner. Obviously, all three of us go way back. Very, very good players. I don't think they'll have any problem getting out here on their talent.
They've shown that in the starts that they've had on the PGA ‑‑ Justin was in the top 10 going into the final round, top 15 going into the final round last week. Obviously, the stage doesn't bother them.
As far as advice, I mean, what we talk about is normally just messing with each other. It's not really advice. I keep on kind of messing with Justin, telling him, hey, man, good playing last week. Now it's time to turn pro. I mean, good job.
And he gets a couple laughs out of that and says, we'll see. I know I'm going to be staying at John Deere with him and playing some practice rounds with him. So it will be fun to kind of get back. I haven't seen those guys in a while.
Q. Does it make it harder after winning a National Championship to leave college? You've had that experience.
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, that was my major goal going into the University of Texas was to get a team National Championship. I played Justin in the finals at Riviera. Fortunately, we were the ones that came out that day. It could have been either team.
He just got his, and I know that was his main goal in college. I'm not sure exactly what he's thinking or if he'd want me to say it if I did.
Yeah, I think that, once you set certain goals and you accomplish them and you get to play out on Tour as an amateur, you're able to compete and kind of finish it off even when you feel the heat, I think that's when you know you're ready. That's when I knew I was ready. Obviously, Justin's doing that now. Patrick has done that. It's just up to them.
Q. Was it an easy decision for you, clear‑cut decision to leave school and turn pro?
JORDAN SPIETH: Not ‑‑ I mean, not exactly. At this time last year, I still thought I was going to be there for at least another year. I remember that specifically.
But I played a couple more Tour events in the summer and played well and started to think, when's the right time to turn? And decided that it would be in the winter so I could give myself at least a few events to play in the fall and give a full year to earn my card. There's a lot of luck involved in the way it's worked out, but I'm happy that the plan was accomplished.
Q. There was no fear, though, when you first went down to South America. Let's call it your bottom rung goal for the year to get into that final playoff thing?
JORDAN SPIETH: My goal for the year was to earn my PGA Tour card for next year. That was my goal for the year. I thought it was going to be through the Web.com tour, which is obviously a great way to do so, top 25 on the Web.com. I thought I may play well enough to earn enough to get into that Tournament series.
But my main goal, the high goal I was setting for myself was to earn my card for next year. If things went perfectly, I'd be sitting where I am right now. If they didn't, then I'd be fighting hard to get into that Tournament series. So it's just a good thing it worked out this way.
Q. What's the best advice Lee Trevino's given you? Or at least the best advice we can print.
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure I'm allowed to say it. Yeah, shoot, it's a word to the wise when you talk with him. It's just a good time. I haven't seen him in a while, but he's just off course, just about always trying to have fun.
It's a grind, and he was telling me that, back when he was in his prime, they were having fun all the time. It almost seems like nowadays people are a little more stressed and grinding. I think there needs to be a little bit of both. He's given me advice on how to do that.
Q. I can't think of the kid's name, the one that committed to OU when he was like in second grade.
JORDAN SPIETH: Brad Dalke.
Q. There you go. Do you know him much?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I played with him at Colonial a week before Colonial, before the Colonial. It was the first time I met him in person. Obviously, I knew who he was.
That guy's going to be pretty special. He really is. He bombs the ball, but it's not wayward. He hits it on the line, and his short game is developing, and he's got all the shots.
I wouldn't be surprised if he's out here soon enough. I think he's got to get through frickin' sophomore year of high school first. But he's got a bright future.
Q. He said he only lost to you by, I think it was a stroke. I think he made a birdie or something.
JORDAN SPIETH: No, it was a few strokes. I don't know what he's telling you guys, but I'll go ahead and keep him humble. I played really well, though.
Q. What part of your game do you think brought you this far?
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean, putting. It's just ‑‑ it's one thing to get on the green. It's another you've got to get it in the hole. 520‑yard par 5 like No. 18 out here, you can hit two great shots and get to 10 feet, and it takes two more to get in.
Putting is the most important part of the game. It's the part that you should work on the most. Fortunately, I've been putting better recently, and I feel like it's made it a lot more stress‑free out there.
Q. Your experiences at Colonial, does that help you headed into this weekend, just having been in the mix?
JORDAN SPIETH: That was ‑‑ even Tampa, even Puerto Rico, I was ‑‑ I wasn't tied for the lead. That was the closest I've been. I think I was one back at Colonial going into Saturday. That was the closest I've been to the lead, sleeping on, being in contention there.
Yeah, I think it will. Now, I got off to a great start Saturday at Colonial and just didn't finish off the round. There's a long way to go in this Tournament, but having been in a similar position, I got to take what I can out of it and just relax tonight.
Q. Where did you start in Puerto Rico on Sunday?
JORDAN SPIETH: On Sunday I was four back. There was a couple guys there too. On Saturday I think I was still two or three back.
THE MODERATOR: Jordan, we appreciate your time.