US Open Championship 2017
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Press ConferenceBETH MAJOR: Good afternoon. Welcome again to the 117th
U.S. Open championship at Erin Hills. It's my pleasure to introduce the 2015
U.S. Open champion, Jordan Spieth, who is playing in his 6th U.S. Open
championship this week. Jordan does have some familiarity with Erin Hills, was
a quarterfinalist in the 2011 U.S. Amateur, and has been here several days
practicing and preparing. Can you talk about your preparations for Erin Hills
JORDAN SPIETH: Yes, similar to other majors and other U.S.
Opens, nothing has really changed. I don't think you have to adopt too much to
this course, any different clubs or ball flights or whatnot. Hopefully the
weather stays away and it can play firmer and faster, which I think is pretty
cool for this place. It was pretty brown when we played it in the U.S. Amateur,
and I thought it was fun that way. I think it's a really well designed golf
course. And we've had a good time preparing. The game feels like it's in good
BETH MAJOR: As you've gone through your preparations over the last
few days, anything that can stuck out, when you look at 2011, in addition to the
conditions, as compared to now.
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it's weird, I don't
remember much from 2011. I remember the closing four holes, and then each hole
starts to kind of reappear when I go out and play it. I remember No. 1 and I
remember the last four prior to getting here on Saturday. So I needed to do
some extra work. That was six years ago and didn't do the same kind of homework
that I do these days with golf courses.
There's a few changes. I think
No. 3's green is significantly changed. And maybe another one somewhere --
maybe No. 9. But it still feels like a pretty new golf course to me. It's
going to play different with the fescue right off of the rough and the
difficulty in staying extremely focused off the tee and not hitting any foul
balls. Because there's essentially two water hazards -- two hazards on each
side of every single hole. You have a wide enough area in between to where it's
fair and yet tough. But if you hit it into that stuff there's a chance you'll
just have to hit back to the fairway with pretty much taking a penalty stroke,
and you might get a chance to hit the green.
I think it's a
well-designed, well-bunkered golf course with a bunch of tee box options. It's
kind of tough to prepare because there's three or four tee boxes on almost every
hole that we could be playing from. We'll just get out there and -- I'm doing a
lot of work around the greens. And other than that, just see what they give to
Q. In what ways does this feel like a U.S. Open? Are there
some ways where it doesn't?
JORDAN SPIETH: It feels like a U.S. Open just
walking the golf course and off the course, just the size of the -- you know
it's a major, the size of the grandstands, the size of everything that's built
around, the amount of people that are in this interview room (laughter).
You know it's a major. In some ways it doesn't because it's a different golf
course. It's a new golf course. I think Chambers Bay felt similar to that
where it wasn't one of the rotation, the go-to golf courses that we're going to
see in the next foreseeable future.
I was actually thinking about that
yesterday out on the course. I know it's a U.S. Open and certainly walking and
seeing the difficulty, but at the same time it also kind of felt like it was a
really difficult PGA Tour event, just walking through the rough, just because it
was a new golf course, not one that I'd watched majors on TV going back or
played in myself.
Q. How do you feel about a par 5 as a
finishing hole in a major championship, either as a leader or a guy who needs to
make up a stroke or two on the leader?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, it's exciting
I think if it's played the right way -- the right way is subjective. But I
think most people would agree that if you have an option for an eagle and you've
got options for six, and I think that the 18th hole here can produce both. It's
a very difficult green with the prevailing wind because it's so flat on the
green. It actually pitches from the middle of the green to the back. And
downwind, if the greens are firm, which it doesn't look like they're going to
be, but if it was firm, it leaves an almost impossible shot if you're outside
120 yards just to hold the green.
So trouble lurks on the 18th off the
tee. If you hit a good tee ball you've got the option of going out, playing the
angles. You can go towards the green, depending on where the pin is that might
leave an easier third or you can take it down the right side. I think it's an
exciting finishing hole. I lost my quarterfinal match on it by going bunker to
bunker to bunker, and you can do that on that hole. But I think depending on
what the wind is doing and what the conditions are of the golf course, I think
they'll be able to move tee boxes around there to make it an exciting finishing
hole for a major.
Q. Kind of speaking of Chambers Bay where you
won a couple of years ago, can you give us a tee-to-green comparison of that
golf course and this one? And considering all the new U.S. Open courses you
guys are playing lately, do you think somewhere like Chambers deserves a second
chance to host?
JORDAN SPIETH: I certainly wouldn't mind a second chance
at Chambers. Tee to green, still very different. I don't think this course has
much comparison to Chambers Bay, other than no trees on the golf course and
therefore with the undulations that the tee box to the fairways present, whether
it's blind or it goes down and the fairways are pitched at you, it's somewhat
tricky with sight lines. And at the same time I think some holes it makes it
harder and some holes it makes it easier.
But the fact that it's so
undulating with some awkward tee shots, but also ones that seem so basic,
standing on the tee boxes looking at your target, I see some similarities. But
other than that, you know, off the sides of the fairways and the way the rough
is here versus the lack of rough that we had there. The fescue even plays
different in the two.
Chambers was much easier driving golf course and I
thought it was more of a bomber's paradise at Chambers Bay. I thought there
were more forced carries that led to the same or wider areas that would leave it
easier for those who could carry the ball further, which is why a lot of the
guys in the top 10 that week were very long hitters. But that's also where the
top 10 in the world are, really long hitters. Tough to compare in that
But I think this week it's a fairway percentage hit. I don't
think it goes as much to strokes game, because strokes game brings in distance
off the tee and I don't think that's as important this week. Saying that, I've
only played the course when it's been firmer the last couple of days. Today
I'll get a better sense if it's that long to where the distance will play a
Q. I wanted to get you thinking about
the spate of recent first time major winners. We've seen six recently over the
course of the last six majors. Why do you think we're seeing this trend right
now in World Golf?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. I don't know if that's
-- I don't know if that's a trend or just -- if it's something that's trending
that way, to continue to trend that way, or it just happened to be that way.
They've all been world class champions, when you look back. Really exciting
finishes that were won. So I'm not sure, to be honest with you, because I guess
before that there was three of us had five of the previous six or something,
before that. So maybe it's trends and maybe it's just the way that it -- I
don't know, the way that it just happened to crumble there.
I wouldn't be
surprised if it's a first-time winner here. But I also wouldn't be surprised if
it was someone that won before. It's very difficult to win a first major.
You're dealing with somebody that's been there before, I know that for a fact.
So they're tremendous wins in their own rights. And with six more previous
winners I would say the likelihood of someone to capture their second or more
major is probably more likely now, because you have so many more major winners.
I'm not sure, to answer your question, I'm not sure. I think it's just a roll
of the dice.
Q. For a first time major venue what factors will
go into validating whether a golf course is major worthy?
Tough but fair. And I think each major it's a different conversation. I think
at the U.S. Open it's very tough but still fair and exciting. You expect scores
to -- you expect par to be an extremely good score in a U.S. Open. I think
that's knowledge. And here early thoughts, I don't see par winning the
tournament. I see closer to 5- to 10-under. Someone who has very good control
of the ball off the tee will have plenty of opportunities to make birdies, given
the conditions that we're expecting.
And I think the USGA is very much
okay with that. And I think that they're looking for a really exciting
championship that they'd like to be tough but fair. And if the conditions bring
the scores further away from par, then so be it. I don't think there's going to
be any kind of -- at this point I don't think there's a whole lot you could do
to the course to speed the greens up even faster or grow the rough up even
higher. Everything is kind of maxed, out in my opinion, and I still think that
that's around what the score will be. But I say that -- a lot of people say
that on Tuesday and you get to Saturday and all of a sudden it's
So that's my initial thoughts. To make it great looking back,
it's tough, because conversations are going to take place through the next year,
and it's not going to be fir. Sometimes you need to compare it to first time
venues, too. So I hope that answered your question.
played well here at Erin Hills in 2011, and played well at Whistling Straits in
2015. Is there something you like about playing golf in Wisconsin, and have you
checked out the local flavor, having brats or cheese curds or something like
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, the people are extremely nice here. Sometimes
you wonder if they're actually that nice, because they're so nice. But, no, we
had a great time at Whistling Straits. I thought the golf course fit our game
well. I think it does here. I think it's just -- I don't think it's a
Wisconsin thing, I think we just enjoyed playing both these golf courses. I was
also playing really welcoming into the U.S. Amateur week. Coming off a U.S.
Junior victory a couple of weeks ago. So the game was on point, which is always
when you're in form, you can't really compare the golf courses, you're probably
going to play well anywhere when the game is on form.
But I have enjoyed
it. I think I had cheese curds last night, actually. But I'll probably stay
away from them the rest of the week until Sunday. Yeah, I mean it's fun.
Logistically, I thought it was going to be a lot tougher this week having been
here before. And I think from the player perspective they've done a great job
in -- where the entrance is, and how you're getting in and out of this place and
making sure that there's not too many questions on how much time you have to
leave yourself before you go. Just where everything is located is very
Q. You mentioned your homework was a little bit
different in 2011. Just curious if you looked back on any notes or watched a
replay or anything along those lines, gleaned anything from that experience,
particularly any notes?
JORDAN SPIETH: I haven't. I couldn't tell you --
I said the USGA was organized, I didn't tell you I was organized. I couldn't
tell you where that yardage book is. So I haven't watched any of it. We just
started over and went with the information that we were presented early on and
then do our work from there.
Q. You're talking a little bit
about the course. Apparently they're cutting the fescue back on four holes.
Just want to get your thoughts on that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm
Q. They're cutting back the fescue it looks like on four
JORDAN SPIETH: I'm not sure. I hadn't heard that. I'm not sure
where it is.
Q. It's 4, 12, 14, 18.
JORDAN SPIETH: 4,
12, 14, 18? You know, I think 4, when I look at this golf course, I think No. 4
is one of the most important fairways to hit, because if I don't hit the fairway
I don't see a possibility of hitting the ball on the green in regulation, it's
so flat. So maybe they're cutting it back there because it entices players to
think they can hit the green. Cutting the rough back doesn't necessarily make
it easier, and what I mean by that is you then are presented with a shot where
it's almost a tease. You think, okay, they cut this back, this isn't too bad.
And all of a sudden that rough grabs your club and you hit a full 8-iron instead
of hitting out to a good wedge number and you end up in the left fescue, left of
It can do some weird things to it if you try to do too much
out here. When they get to a certain level where it looks like you can still
play it, but it's still hard, that a lot of times can make it even
But at the same time you end up in a spot where it is easier.
So I think -- I've hit it in the fescue multiple times over the last few days.
I've had it to where I needed to hit gap wedge out about 100 yards into the
fairway, and I've also hit an iron on the green out of it. It just depends on
where it ends up, what the lie is.
It's not unplayable. It's not -- I
don't think the golf course is unfair, by any means, because of the fescue. We
have a wide enough area to hit it and you need to drive the ball well in order
to win a U.S. Open. I think that's a fair thing to say.
There's this idea that the newness of this golf course is going to level
the playing field in some way. That all else being equal, the top players may
have a little bit of an advantage because the course is new to everyone. I
think the last four first time U.S. Open venues, you won, Tiger won twice and
Payne Stewart won. What do you think of that as a concept and what does that
mean for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: You think it would level the playing field
to -- historically -- it would level the playing field to where someone would
win their first one.
Q. Where the top players have more of an
advantage, because everyone is seeing the course for the first time?
JORDAN SPIETH: I would say if the top players have more of an advantage I
wouldn't call that leveling, but I would say I don't think there's much to the
me, Tiger, Payne Stewart, because it just depends on the golf course. And all
of those golf courses were very different.
I would think that a brand-new
golf course would limit any kind of experience players have. So any experienced
major contenders may have -- everyone has the same amount of work to do. No one
has the advantage of seeing other stuff that other players haven't. Like
Oakmont, I think if I played it -- if Jim Furyk had played two Oakmont U.S.
Opens before last year, I think that there he had an advantage over anybody else
as far as his knowledge of the place going in, over anybody who has played less.
So I think in that sense it levels it, but I don't think it's going to make
much of a difference. I think we could see anything.
the first time in a long, long time, there's no Tiger and no Phil, or probably
no Phil. What is that like for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: It's a little weird.
I didn't think that would happen at this time. But Tiger, coming back from
injury, and Phil putting family first, these are reasons that keep you away from
golf. And so be it. We've got to go out there and do what we do.
when -- I hadn't thought about it at all until you just said that. When you say
it, one, it kinds of makes me feel like we're maybe ten years down the road.
But at the same time it is what it is and you certainly hope that they're both
back playing their best in the near future.
Q. One other thing,
at Augusta we always ask players to wax poetic, but when you think of the U.S.
Open, what comes into your mind. When you were growing up what impressions did
you have of the U.S. Open?
JORDAN SPIETH: Just a mental test, just
dealing with the mental side of the game more than any other tournament. It's
always a physical test. It's a big golf course. It's a tough one to walk.
It's a tough one to -- the rough is always thick. You're just putting more
effort into each round. But then most of all it certainly tests the mental game
more than any other place in golf. And I've witnessed that on both sides of
things. If you came for a stress free tournament you didn't come to the right
place. And we know that going in. And I think everybody does. So you just
prepare accordingly, and you just try to have a level of patience.
What do you think of Hideki Matsuyama? Do you think he has a chance to
win this time?
JORDAN SPIETH: Absolutely. He had a fantastic fall and
carried it into early in the year, which he's also had a tremendous career,
going back to his time in Japan and his time on the PGA Tour. He's a world
class player who I've said multiple times, who I believe he'll have a major,
sooner rather than later. So I think it could happen anywhere. His game can
travel anywhere. So it very well could happen here if he's on.
I read that growing up you attended Catholic schools. So you mentioned
the stress of majors. I'm wondering if you ever rely on that faith component
when dealing with the stress of competing in a major tournament or on Tour in
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, sure. I think it's useful. I don't
remember actually -- I don't remember -- when I'm on the golf course it's all --
so much is going through your head-on the actual preparation of the course and
your breathing techniques and stuff like that. But definitely off the course.
On the course there's a lot going on and it's all kind of golf and
preparation-related. But certainly off the course.
Q. When you
were playing U.S. Amateurs, I would assume that was always the toughest course
setup maybe for what you were playing at that level. U.S. Open is probably
similar. How would you compare and contrast those extremes as it relates to the
experiences here the Erin Hills?
JORDAN SPIETH: Similar feelings.
Similar feelings. I remember you go into the U.S. Amateur and you think about
everywhere you've just been playing. And you know that this golf course is that
much harder. And when I say that much, that's the same kind of that much that I
feel right now. Although the golf courses that we play on a regular basis are
more challenging than they were back then. The step up in the U.S. Open is
similar in caliber to the step up the U.S. Amateur was.
I think the USGA
does a tremendous job in mixing it up, but not too much or too little. Does
that make sense?
Q. After Sergio's breakthrough win at the
Masters there was an outpouring of support from the golfing community.
Obviously you want to win week in, week out. But describe what it's like to see
a fellow pro grab that emotional victory?
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, I spoke
about this at The PLAYERS. With everything that Sergio has gone through, so
many positives, and he's definitely had that chip, that negative to the career,
that, if he wasn't so good, wouldn't have been there. But the fact that he was
that good of a player and everyone was like, wait a second, why don't you have a
major? That's why it became a thing. And it became a thing that I think
It was something I've been playing with him and hear yelled
out from the crowd, from being at the PGA last year, to the Ryder Cup. And for
him to power through that, that noise, that seemingly there's a lot of -- some
of the world against you type thing and to kind of carry that load and come
through on golf's biggest stage, was phenomenal. I thought it was a really
impressive win. And I think that it was well deserved and it was a little -- I
think he's deserved at least a major or a couple prior to then. But that was
his time. And I think he's certainly embraced it. You saw the emotion he
showed and what he's said since then.
But I thought it was fitting,
Q. At Memorial you indicated you planned to get
here early, play a lot, and then maybe taper down playing going in. I wonder if
that's still your plan or has the rain maybe changed it? I notice you're
playing this afternoon.
JORDAN SPIETH: I got here Saturday and the
conditions were not ideal for practice. It was just blowing too hard. So it
was actually a good time to go out and see the course. I played nine. And then
kind of sat back and Cameron was getting in Sunday, and so I kind of wanted to
pick a plan for the week. And I thought Sunday and Monday would be the heaviest
days, and dial it back a little today and tomorrow.
Having said that I'm
still going to go out and play nine holes each of the two days, today and
tomorrow. But just a little bit shorter days. I'm going in the afternoons,
getting a little more rest in the mornings. So, yeah, just tapering it back
just little bit.
But I'm really excited for this week. Everything feels
good. I like the golf course, just got to go out there and execute at this
BETH MAJOR: Jordan, thanks so much. Always great to have you with
us. We wish you well this week.
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Rev #1 by #178 at 2017-06-13 18:03:00