Jordan Spieth enters the final major of the season as THE storyline, with all eyes focused on the 24-year old Texan as he seeks to becomes golf’s youngest grand slam winner.
During a Wednesday press conference at Quail Hollow, in advance of the 2017 PGA Championship, the three-time major champion discussed a variety of things, including the state of his game, his rivalry with Rory McIlroy, and what he ate for dinner last evening.
COMPARING 2015 TO 2017
“Different parts of my game were better in 2015 and different parts of my game are better now. I feel like around the greens and on the greens, I was stronger in 2015. But I feel like my ball-striking, especially my iron play, is better now than it was then.
Each is translating into somewhat similar scoring. If I’m putting to kind of the extent that I was striking it then, then I’m shooting the same scores. For me, the biggest thing recently has been putting a lot of work into the short game and then trying to find more fairways. We’re trying to improve on individual statistics and set goals for the remainder of the year.
Last week was a good week. Didn’t quite have my best stuff, but I come into Quail Hollow here on a very, very difficult track, and one that’s going to be kind of wet and long, which puts even more of a premium on finding the fairway. And if I’m doing that, I love these bermuda greens and I feel like they are a good style and speed of greens to kind of get my putting right where I want it.”
COMPETING AGAINST RORY MCILROY AND YOUNG GUNS
“That’s kind of him. I think the same of him. Rory is a guy who is very difficult if you come into a one-on-one type situation no matter where it is, and especially in majors, because he doesn’t — he’s not afraid to hit the shot. I mean, he plays so aggressively, and that’s what you have to do to win. I mean, you’re going to lose some tournaments because of it, but you’re going to win a lot more than playing any other way.
He’s proven that. I mean, he won this tournament by eight shots. Obviously that doesn’t come from playing too safe. Even when he had the lead, he kept his foot on the gas pedal. He’s done that for dozens of worldwide victories.
If you’re matched up on Sunday, and you get to choose somebody, you know, you obviously want to be able to play against somebody like Rory who has four major championships and is one of the top couple most accomplished players in this field. But he is one to fear in that position because of what he’s capable of doing and how he’s going to do it.
Status in the game, how do we push each other? I think it’s cool that we’ve both had the success that we’ve had at such a young age, and I think the coolest part about it is the question of, what’s it going to be like for the next 20, 25 years. And that’s kind of what is the exciting part when we think about it, too. We’re friendly with each other and really want each other to do well because it does push each other, just like all these young players in the game. It’s not two of us; it’s really eight to ten right now.
Look at what Jon Rahm has done in really his first full year out here. Really incredible, a guy who is going to win major championships and be another guy to cope with; the way Hideki is playing, and he’s obviously coming in here as probably the hottest player in the game at 25 years old.
So yeah, your question was about me and Rory, and we feel that way about each other, and we feel that way about a lot of young guys out here that are all pushing each other to get better.”
VISITING CHARLOTTE, N.C.
“Went to Cowfish last night. That place was interesting, really good. I had no idea how to feel going in with the menu, just burgers and sushi. I needed like a 20-minute break afterward to try and figure out what I just ate (laughter), but it was good.
It’s a beautiful city. Just driving around a little bit, just the massive trees, you get some rolling hills. North Carolina is a really pretty state. I came up here to go to Wilmington growing up every single year for a family reunion, and we normally fly into Raleigh and drive through the state to get over there. So I’ve got some family, my grandpa lives over there. Been playing golf in this state since I started to play golf.
But in Charlotte, this is my second time here. Don’t really get an opportunity in a major week to get out and explore much, but certainly has a lot to offer from what I’ve been hearing and reading about.”
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP MOVING TO MAY DATE
“I didn’t have much of a reaction. It was something that us players had been in contact with Jay about for quite a while, and it’s been in discussions. I think it’s really well done — with the scheduling changes going forward, I think players overall are extremely pleased with — we have yet to see what that will mean for the FedExCup schedule and really if the season is shortened or what exactly happens.
But as far as moving the majors, the PGA up, THE PLAYERS then over; yes, it opens up a lot more venues. I think it’s cool, not just necessarily for Dallas but for the whole state of Texas. You can have it anywhere in the state in May.
For me to think of playing in my home state in a major championship, that would be incredible. I’m not sure what courses would be leading the charge for that, but I’m sure I’ve played them. Played all around the state. It would be an incredible opportunity.”
CLASSY MATT KUCHAR
“Kuch, I played with him last week. We were paired on Sunday. I’m not surprised at all with the way he handled things. I’ve been in somewhat similar situations before and could understand the feeling. And I thought he was a class act in everything.
Not that there was — you know, I felt the need to apologize to him on 13 for the amount of time it took when we just — it’s so tough these days. The second I go take the drop where I figured it needed to be taken, the second it’s called in by three people and someone alerts you three holes later you’ve got a two-stroke penalty. So it was worth making sure everything was correct just to make sure that I had a chance.
But I felt because of the time it took, the need to apologize. But yeah, he was tremendous in the way that he played and the way that he is off the course, as he always acts.”