Sport Golf

Monday 24 October 2016

'It's a marathon, not a sprint' - Jordan Spieth on being world number one golfer

Phil Casey

Published 28/09/2015 | 15:22

Jordan Spieth secured the FedEx Cup and a big cheque in Atlanta
Jordan Spieth secured the FedEx Cup and a big cheque in Atlanta

Another week, another change at the top of golf's world rankings. But if it's the same players who continue to enjoy a game of musical chairs then no-one will be complaining.

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Jordan Spieth's victory in the Tour Championship, which secured the FedEx Cup title and £6.5million bonus, also took the 22-year-old American back to world number one for the third time this season.

Spieth first assumed top spot after finishing second in the US PGA Championship but relinquished it after two weeks when he missed the cut in the first FedEx Cup play-off event.

Despite also making an early exit from the next tournament, Spieth reclaimed the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy, who took it back during the break in the FedEx Cup schedule.

Jason Day's victory in the BMW Championship then took the Australian top of the rankings for a week until Spieth ended any lingering debate about the PGA Tour player of the year vote with victory in Atlanta.

All that means there have been six "different" number one players in a six-week span for the first time, a far cry from the times when Tiger Woods spent spells of 264 and 281 weeks as the undisputed world number one.

Some fans would prefer one player to enjoy that kind of dominance, others will be happy to see the likes of Spieth, Day and McIlroy separated by fractions of world ranking points, with Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler not far behind.

And Spieth himself is in the latter category as he looks to apply the lessons he learned from his five victories this year - including of course two major titles - into the next season.

"I made some poor decisions earlier in the play-off stretch because mentally I wasn't in shape," Spieth said after his four-shot win at East Lake.

"I was approaching this number one in the world ranking, the end of the major season, these expectations.... I was managing them like a sprint instead of looking at it as a 20, hopefully 25-year, type of flip-flop that we could have with these great young stars of the game, that when they're at their best can beat everybody else.

"So, I sat back and did a lot of thinking, did a lot of talking with Cameron (McCormick, his coach) and Michael (Greller, his caddie) to try and figure out how to approach this week to not worry about any of that stuff.

"And if we get the lead, who cares about what other implications will come about, other than how to get this trophy right here. And that's how we did it the whole year. How do we get that one trophy at hand and not worry about anything else?"

Woods and Ben Hogan remain the only two players to have won three majors in a single year after Spieth missed out on a play-off for the Open Championship by a single shot in July.

But by anyone's standards a record of 1-1-4-2 in the majors is a remarkable achievement, especially considering that Spieth only turned 22 a week after the final round at St Andrews and only became a professional at the end of 2012.

"It's hard for me to compare it to anybody's past seasons," Spieth added. "It's the greatest season I've ever had, obviously. It's one where we took our game on course and off course to a level that I didn't think would be possible at different times in my life.

"I believed that we could get to this position where we're at right now. But there's plenty of times where you feel so poorly with the putter or you're not hitting any fairways with the driver, or you sit back and think how in the world does somebody do this.

"Then you kind of get into some momentum, you get into a groove, and it happens. And that's what this season did; it proved that we can maintain that high level throughout the year, even when a couple weeks get off, you can get it back quickly. I know that we can play at this level, even when we don't have our best stuff.

"And it gives me a lot of confidence going forward for the next 20 years. To know that if I remain healthy, that even when things are poor, we can get back to this level quickly and that's what we showed in the play-offs, that now we can take in the future."

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