Spieth avoids surprises with simulator prep for St Andrews
Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30
And there was Jordan Spieth thinking he would be the one receiving the flak for undertaking "inappropriate" preparation for the British Open Championship next week.
Believe it, if Rory McIlroy had not sustained an injury while playing in a "friendly kickabout" which is highly likely to sideline him from St Andrews, then the brunt of the social media criticism would be being directed towards Spieth for admitting using a simulator to acclimatise himself to the Old Course.
In readiness for his shot at becoming the second player in history to win the season's first three Majors, Spieth raised eyebrows by honouring a commitment to play this week in the John Deere Classic on the TPC Deere Run parkland course in Illinois and so not arrive at the Home of Golf until Monday.
For a 21-year-old who has played just one round at the legendary links, this is an unusual build-up, particularly as the past eight Open winners at St Andrews all had extensive competitive experience there. But Spieth is not a stranger; not a virtual stranger anyway.
"I have a full-swing simulator in my house and have been playing a few holes on St Andrews on it," he said. "I've made the fairways and greens firm. It's not the same as being there, but at least I get to see some of the holes, so when I get there I'm not too surprised."
Spieth played the Old Course en route to the 2011 Walker Cup match in Aberdeen and was so taken by St Andrews that he declared it "my favourite place in the world".
If that is true many may wonder why he is not copying veterans such as Tiger Woods - who will turn up later this week - and Phil Mickelson - who practised there yesterday before travelling the hour south to Gullane, where he will contest the Scottish Open this week.
The answer is that Spieth is his own man with his own game plan which has worked nicely so far in the 2015 Majors.
"The best prep for me is getting myself into contention the week before," Spieth said.
"That's what we did before the Masters. I had a chance to win in Houston (where he was beaten in a play-off) and capitalised with everything firing at Augusta. And the Memorial, I was in contention there (two weeks) before the US Open."
Were Spieth to triumph at St Andrews and then win the US PGA three weeks later, he would become the first player to win the calendar Grand Slam.
He says he and his caddie Michael Greller "haven't been reflecting on winning the first two Majors, but looking forward to the next goal".
Without McIlroy that goal would surely be more achievable, but Spieth said it would dampen the occasion.
McIlroy revealed on Monday that he sustained "a total rupture" of an ankle ligament in a football match on Astroturf near his home in Co Down last Saturday and is rated at no better than 10 per cent to be able to defend the Claret Jug. The 26-year-old will undergo more scans and might delay a decision until next Monday.
"It kind of dampens it," said Spieth. "You want the defending champion, much less the best player in the world, at the event.
"Accidents happen, and I just wish for a speedy recovery. For me, it doesn't change anything. It's still a Major and there's a lot of unbelievable talent." (© Daily Telegraph, London)