BMW Championship interview: Jordan Spieth

September 11, 2013

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DOUG MILNE:  Jordan Spieth, thanks for joining us for a few minutes prior to the start of the 2013 BMW Championship.  You're coming into the week with quite a lot on your plate, your first victory at the John Deere Classic and then your 62 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, and then of course the Presidents Cup pick.  With all that said, I'll just turn it over to you for some comments on being here this week.

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, very excited to be here.  It's an honor to make this field.  Obviously a great tournament.  This is an unbelievable golf course.  Really enjoy it.  The last ‑‑ the back nine is pretty special, and it's stout, and it's very difficult.  You still have wedge opportunities, but overall it's going to be difficult for the players, and especially if the wind blows.

But yeah, it's been a pretty fun week off.  Cool phone call, one of the best ones I've ever received, and awesome to kind of have that ‑‑ that was a big goal of mine when I started to realize it might be possible about a month ago, and ever since then been grinding to try and get that call.

It was pretty cool, and looking forward to maybe playing some rounds with guys on the team and seeing how we can best shape the pairings.

Q.  You've accomplished so much at such a young age, obviously winning on the PGA TOUR, making the Presidents Cup, and really kind of vaulting yourself into world status.  How do you handle that at such a young age?

JORDAN SPIETH:  You know, on course I think it just has to do with I'm just a competitor.  I think that it doesn't matter what the stage is.  It doesn't matter if it's playing with my buddies or if it's in a major championship or a big PGA TOUR event.  When I need to make a putt, I'm solely focused on the putt.  I don't really think much about the stage or the effects that it could have.

I've been really, I think ‑‑ it's been a strength of mine to be focused on the present when I'm on the golf course this year.  I'm never really looking at the future.  The only problems I have is when I am looking at the past.  But I've been pretty good.  Michael has been good at keeping me grounded on that and keeping me looking ‑‑ kind of staying where I'm at.

Off the course, you know, there's always a next goal.  There's always a higher achievement, until you're the best in the world and you're winning almost every time like the guy that's there right now.  There's always ways to improve.

It's been interesting because I've had to sit back and readjust goals this year a couple different times.  It's been phenomenal.  It's been the best year of my life.

Yeah, I mean, if I keep looking forward, I think that's the way to stay grounded and to stay focused and working as hard as I ever have.

Q.  You kind of just touched on this.  I'm looking for details here.  If you start the year wanting to get into that final series that's going on right now, how many times, and specifically how have you adjusted your goals?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Just a couple.

Q.  What were they?

JORDAN SPIETH:  So after ‑‑ I would say after Tampa, so after Puerto Rico it adjusted to try and play really well to earn special temporary status, and then after that my goal ‑‑ I still had to make some money to earn my TOUR card.  I knew that the FedExCup Playoffs weren't going to work out for me, so I knew I'd have less events than some of those guys, so it was about adjusting my positioning.

Then after knocking on the door a couple more times, I kind of sat back and said, you know what, we can win.  We can win this year.

So then after the John Deere, then it was, okay, maybe we're thinking about ‑‑ I'm now in the Playoffs, so now my schedule adjusts to where I'd like to have an opportunity to play in the TOUR Championship, and then from there I guess the Presidents Cup came onto my mind, and that was the most significant goal that was on my mind the whole year was trying to make that team.

So I would say it's just happened a couple times, just changing from not playing the TOUR but playing the PGA TOUR, and then from there adjusting to the win, and then scheduling and how I would be as fresh as I could be once the Playoffs started, especially these next three out of four weeks.

Q.  You would have had your money by the time you won Deere, right?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yes, yes, so that happened ‑‑ it would have happened after Houston or at least Colonial.

Q.  So what's the next goal before the year is out?  Is anything left?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I'm focused on the next two weeks right now.  Yeah, I mean, obviously anybody would say at the beginning of the year that if they could play their best in any tournament outside of a major, or even including the majors, it would be playing for your country.  So I want to ‑‑ that tournament is on my mind, to play my best golf I've ever played.

But right now my focus is on this week.  A goal of mine is to finish whatever I have to finish to try and control my own destiny next week.  I think that's a big story line for this tournament is how can players work their way into the top 5, and I got fourth last week and dropped a spot, so I'm not sure exactly what I have to do.

Yeah, getting into a position of remaining in the top 10, having a solid week, obviously I'm trying to win the golf tournament.  But I think a good solid week would be a great move towards next week and trying to beat 30 players.  The odds going in are better than any other event I've ever played.  That would be pretty cool.

Q.  A lot of the guys talk like it's going to be a birdie‑fest out here, but you said you think the back nine especially is going to be stout.  Can you talk about that?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, yeah.  I mean, if the wind doesn't blow there's going to be some birdies, but the greens are firm.  The pins are in the middle of the greens right now.  They were for pro‑am day.  So there are plenty of birdies to be had.

I think when the pins start getting put onto ledges, these greens are pretty funky on the back nine.  You've got a lot of different pin locations, possibilities, and if you're attacking with an 8‑iron it's going to make you think.  The rough is pretty difficult in the spots where it has to be difficult, and you've just really got to pick your spots.  It's a ball‑striker's course.  It reminds me a lot of a course like Hilton Head.  Obviously different grass and everything, but as far as tee to green I'm not hitting a lot of drivers this week, and there are still plenty of wedge opportunities.

But that doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to be easy.  I don't think the scores will be anywhere ‑‑ I don't think they'll be as low as Deutsche Bank.

Q.  What was it like to look at the results of the Walker Cup and know that you could have been playing in it?  Those are your peers.

JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, they obviously didn't need me (smiling).  Yeah, shoot, we lost a couple years ago, so I guess the team played a little better this time around.

No, it's cool.  A lot of those guys are good buddies of mine that I've grown up since I was 14 years old playing against, and most of the guys were my age on that team.  It was awesome to watch.

I talked to the guys ‑‑ I talked to a couple of them throughout the week and Sunday night, too, and they were having a blast.  It really was awesome.  Very happy for Captain Holtgrieve and Robby for ‑‑ they played a big role in that team being adjusted and playing so well.

I think experience paid off there for having been the captain last time around.  It was awesome to see for those guys.

Q.  Where were you when Fred called, and what did he say on the phone?  And did you call him Mr. Couples?

JORDAN SPIETH:  No, I didn't call him Mr. Couples.  I think he'd be mad at me if I called him Mr. Couples.  He had texted me actually the Monday right after I finished my round, and he was just saying, great playing this year, great playing today, really happy for you, and I'll give you a call tomorrow.  And I kind of knew at that time by the way that he worded it that it was probably going to happen.

You know, I was actually visiting my girlfriend when I got the call that next night, Tuesday night, and talked to him for a while.  He really ‑‑ I still wasn't positive if that meant I was on the team or not, so he called me, and I answered and said, How you doing?  What's going on?  He said, So who are your boys on this team that you want to be paired with, because there's been a lot of interest, and I just want to know.  I'm like, does that mean I'm on the team or who else are you picking or what's going on.

It was pretty funny, just kind of went straight to the point.  I told him, I'm not sure, I'm interested to find out the next couple weeks who the pairings are going to be.

Q.  I imagine it's safe to assume that you've played more competitive golf this year than any other year?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Twice as much.

Q.  So physically I imagine that's not much of a problem for you, but mentally has it been a challenge?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, physically it's been fine.  Four weeks in a row, the only reason I would get tired the third and fourth week is just because I haven't done it before.  It's just a getting used to type thing on how I should schedule days off or maybe playing nine holes here and there instead of 18, 18, 18 in the practice rounds.

Mentally it's just been ‑‑ there's just been so many new things that have come up, so many bigger tournaments, it hasn't really taken much of a toll, and it can't.  I mean, it really can't these next few tournaments.  They're the biggest tournaments of the year.

There's been times where I've wanted to take a couple days off and just kind of get away from the game, not even look at the clubs for a couple days, and I'm sure after the Presidents Cup I might take a week or two and hang back and hang low.

But mentally it's been an adjustment, definitely.  But after kind of going through the process once or twice earlier, playing a few in a row, since then it's been fine.

Q.  Have you given any thought to your fall schedule?

JORDAN SPIETH:  A little bit.  I've looked at it.  I really haven't nailed any tournaments down yet.  I know the World Golf Championship in Shanghai is an opportunity I wouldn't pass up.  I promised you guys I wouldn't skip another World Golf Championship.  But other than that there's a lot of different opportunities in the U.S. and around the world.  Jay and I will sit down and figure out which one might be the right idea.  Like I said, I am going to rest, so it will be an off‑season for me, but I'll still play some golf.

Q.  Have you taken the time on a down day to go back and watch the final round of the John Deere and kind of soak it all in and watch your bunker shot at 18 and things like that again, and if so what's that been like?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, day after we got back from the British, I went home, my parents had TiVo'd it.  I just watched ‑‑ I honestly just watched just No. 18, the bunker shot, and then watched the last playoff hole.  I just kind of ‑‑ I don't know, I've never really been fun for watching myself on TV and whatnot or reading anything.  I just kind of let it all go.

But I did want to see that and see how ‑‑ mainly just to see how I reacted because I don't really remember.  It was just kind of a blur.  I wanted to see how I handled myself.  It was really cool kind of reliving a couple of those moments.

Q.  Have you ever watched TV of yourself?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Not really.  I mean, no, not much at all.  I'll watch The Golf Channel and if something comes on where they're mentioning ‑‑ I'll listen.  I don't just avoid it altogether, but I don't tape, I don't watch the tape‑overs.  My parents probably do more than I do.

Q.  Why do you feel like it's not a good thing to dwell or look back at the past?

JORDAN SPIETH:  When I was talking about on course, that was just when I get upset at a hole before, if I made a bogey or a double or I made a dumb mistake.  I mean, everybody gets mad.  It's about letting it go as quick as possible, and I've gotten a lot better at that throughout the year, probably because one stroke doesn't mean quite as much now as it did when I needed to get tied for 11th six ways to get my card or something like that.

I kind of feel like I'm just free‑rolling, like I've said all year, just ‑‑ yeah, I was just talking about on course briefly, learning how to get over those shots a little quicker, and Michael has been good at preparing me in the present.

Q.  It came up at Congressional if I remember where you had a bad stretch that you probably let fester a little bit too long and cost you more?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, Colonial was one where I learned a lot from.  Congressional, too.

Q.  Is Michael the only one working with you on that?

JORDAN SPIETH:  Yeah, I don't have a mental coach.  I never have.  Jay Brunza did some work with the University of Texas when I was there.  My dad has mentioned it, Jay has mentioned it.  We've had ‑‑ it's been mentioned to me, hey, do you want to work with these guys, maybe it would be good to just talk or have a session.  I've just always said, no, unless I really feel like I need it I'd kind of like to work through my problems on my own, figure out a way to do so.  Like with my swing, I use Cameron, I have for years and years, but when I'm out here I rarely talk to him.  If something is going wrong I'll send him a text real quick, but for the most part I like trying to fix it on my own because when I'm on the course and something goes wrong, I've got to fix it on my own.

Yeah, Michael has gone through every hole with me, the only person that's gone through every hole with me this year, everywhere we've been, and he's been very helpful because he knows how I function when certain putts are missed or I make a bogey or a double here.  He knows what I want to say and is able to kind of ‑‑ he knows the right words now to say.

It was an adjustment.  There were times where I didn't want to listen to him and he didn't want to listen to me, but we're good now.

Q.  You didn't spend the off week watching Texas‑BYU, did you?

JORDAN SPIETH:  He went there, didn't he?

Q.  Any solutions to their run defense?

JORDAN SPIETH:  No.  I watched it.  I lost my voice from the Cowboy game on Sunday night, and it was already somewhat lost from yelling on Saturday.  But the second half I was just kind of appalled.  I was just sitting there with my eyes wide open.  I was like, all right, when are we going to come back?  It was a tough game.  They played great.  We didn't have an answer for them, and I'm sure we'll be ready when Ole Miss comes to town.

DOUG MILNE:  Jordan, best of luck this week.  Thanks for your time.