Thursday 18 January 2018

Jordan Spieth would prefer to miss out on €10.2m payday at Tour Championship than lose the Ryder Cup

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth

James Corrigan

Jordan Spieth on Tuesday declared he would rather be a winner at next week’s Ryder Cup than claim the $11.4  million (€10.2 million) on offer here at the Tour Championship.

The world No 4’s comment inevitably invoked memories of Tiger Woods’s famous statement, at the WGC event in 2002, when asked if he would prefer to win that title or the following week’s Ryder Cup at the Belfry. Woods could think of “a million reasons” why he would rather prevail in the individual tournament. Well, he got his wish: he won the $1 million cheque at Mount Juliet and was then a loser in the Midlands.

The thought of being on a defeated team again, clearly horrifies Spieth and as much as he wants to defend his FedEx Cup here on Sunday, if he is playing the hypothetical game there is only one winner. “It’s kind of rude, but if you’re saying 2016, right now, I have a choice, then it is the Ryder Cup,” he said. “You want something that you don’t have. That’s a trophy that I’ve watched the other side have [at Gleneagles two years ago] and it hurt.

“When we boarded the plane back home, it was an empty feeling. We don’t want that again… we want that celebration. We want that champagne falling off the balcony. And I’m pretty confident about how we’re going to go about our business. I think we’ve got a fantastic team this year, one of the best teams I can remember looking back at.”

Intriguingly, the US team is not yet finalised, with captain Davis Love III still to name his last wildcard on Sunday night. Bubba Watson is the favourite, but rookies Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas are in the mix.

They joined Spieth, as well as Love and five other members of the US side on a reconnaissance mission at Hazeltine on Sunday and Monday and Spieth reported that “I could see how badly each of them wanted to be there”.

However, Spieth also recognised what an “awkward position” two-time Masters champion Watson is in.

“I couldn’t imagine being in his position, wondering why [he is not yet in] at seven in the world,” Spieth said. “There’s 24 players in the Ryder Cup… I don’t know if anybody’s ever been passed up in that spot before. That’s tough.”

Tough, maybe, but Spieth thinks that it is a fair scenario. “In my opinion, we want whoever’s playing the best to be the last pick,” he said. “They all know that if they can somehow block it out and focus on playing well in this tournament it will help them. I don’t know how they’re going to do it and it’s added pressure for sure. But for us, we want who is hot.”

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