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What They Said: Tuesday News Conferences

June 12, 2018 Southampton, N.Y. By USGA
Jordan Spieth praised three-time U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods for elevating the professional game during his Tuesday press conference. (USGA/Chris Keane)

2015 U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, on what it means to have Tiger Woods in the field:

“It adds a whole ’nother level for sure. I think it’s great for the sport. He’s here because he loves the game and he loves to compete and he wants to win. Like Arnie and Jack, he’s in that elite company that have shifted the game and made it popular and made the way of life significantly different for professional golfers. We certainly owe a lot to him. And that doesn’t mean that anybody wants to take it easy on him if they’re coming down the stretch with him.”

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion:

“I feel like I’m playing a U.S. Open that I was used to seeing growing up, where a couple under par is a good score. Oakmont, if you missed fairways, you were in the thick rough. But Oakmont definitely wasn't a drawer's golf course. Every iron shot had to be cutting, and I kind of struggled there. But I got to this golf course, and it seemed like it brought everything out. You have to be able to work the ball both ways. You have to be able to flight the ball depending on wind. So any little detail of your golf game that's not on is going to be exposed.”

Tiger Woods, on his health after back surgery one year ago:

“I had really no expectation that I could actually be here again. I was given the OK to start walking again, start moving around, in June. It was about just having my standard of life. Forget golf. Can I actually participate in my kids’ lives again? That’s something that I had missed for a few years, and that

was the main goal of it. So to go from there to where I’m at now, I had no expectation of getting this far. A lot of this is pure bonus because of where I was. To be able to have this opportunity to play USGA events, to play against these guys, best players in the world, it’s a great feeling and one that I don’t take for granted.”

2017 PGA champion Justin Thomas, on what it would mean to win another major:

“Absolutely no disrespect to guys that have won one, myself included, but it’s a lot easier to get hot one week than it is to do it again and win another major. When you are a major champion, you have more expectations on yourself, more expectations from other people. So you could make an argument that it could be harder to get the second one than it is the first. I think to be known as a multiple major champion has a little better ring to it. I hope to add that to my name, sooner rather than later.”

Jason Day, on whether the U.S. Open suits his game better than any other major:

“When you come into an event like this, you hear guys moaning and groaning about the setup or the course we’re playing on, how tight things are… You can write people off straight away if they’re complaining. When it comes to the U.S. Open, it tests every part of your game and the mental side as well. So whatever you get, you get. You’ve just got to suck it up and just keep going. I feel like I thrive under those conditions better than an easier course where everyone can come in and play.”

Day, on the self-discipline it takes to be the best:

“If you want to be the best, you have to give everything you've got to that craft. You have to give your whole life to it. Everything you do is around golf or around being the best, and that's what you do sleeping, that’s what you do eating, that's what you do when you’re sitting there and you’re playing with your kids. It’s very hard to switch it off. You’re thinking about golf constantly and the will to try to get better and be the best. My wife sacrifices so much for me and what I’m trying to accomplish, which is amazing, and my kids do, too.”

Defending champion Brooks Koepka, on battling through an injury earlier this year:

“I went from playing some of the best golf I’ve probably ever played to probably being at the lowest point professionally that I’ve been. It wasn't easy. The past six months, maybe eight months – we knew about the wrist injury a little bit longer than we told people. But I knew it was bugging me and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Thankfully, we’ve got it situated now where I’m 100 percent past it. But I’ll tell you what, it was a long four months. It wasn’t anything I’d wish upon anybody.”

Koepka, on the par 3s at Shinnecock Hills:

“I think the par 3s are so difficult. They’re not the longest. The greens are very undulating. To be honest with you, it’s the same shot into every par 3 every single day. No matter where the pin is, you’re looking to pitch it on No. 7, make sure your miss is left without a doubt, and you're trying to pitch it about 8 [yards] on and try to keep it 12 on if you can, somewhere in that region. And you just take whatever putt you’ve got. Then the 11th hole, you’re trying to pitch it 5 on, maybe, and then leave yourself with whatever putt you have. The par 3s are crucial. I think you’ll see some big numbers there. And I think, especially if you start missing it on the wrong side of the hole here, you can kind of play ping-pong back and forth.”