Tuesday 24 April 2018

Jordan Spieth has no 'burning desire' to be youngest to win career grand slam

Rory McIlroy, right, believes mental strength is the biggest weapon of US PGA rival Jordan Spieth, left
Rory McIlroy, right, believes mental strength is the biggest weapon of US PGA rival Jordan Spieth, left

Jordan Spieth insists he is not feeling the pressure of trying to complete the career grand slam because he has no "burning desire" to become the youngest to achieve the feat.

Spieth's dramatic Open victory at Royal Birkdale means he needs to win the US PGA Championship to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors.

Woods was 24 years, seven months and 25 days old when he won the 2000 Open at St Andrews by eight shots, while Spieth celebrated his 24th birthday just four days after the Open, fittingly posting a picture on social media of a small birthday cake perched on top of the Claret Jug.

But while all eyes are on the world number two this week at Quail Hollow, the man himself appears remarkably relaxed about the chance to write his name in the record books.

" Expectations, I really don't feel any," Spieth said. "This is a chance to complete the career grand slam, I'm here, so I'm going to go ahead and try. But I believe I'm going to have plenty of chances and I'm young enough to believe in my abilities that it will happen at some point.

"Do I have to be the youngest? No, I don't feel that kind of pressure. Would it be really cool? Absolutely.

"This is a major championship. This is one of the four pivotal weeks of the year that we focus on. So there will certainly be pressure. I'm simply stating there won't be added expectations or pressure.

"How? I don't know. I just don't feel it. It's not a burning desire to have to be the youngest to do something, and that would be the only reason there would be added expectations.

"If I don't win one in the next 10 years, then maybe there's added pressure then and hopefully we don't have to have this conversation in 10 years. But if we do, then it might be a different.

" But it was only two weeks ago that I was able to get the third leg and that's so fresh in my mind. I'm so happy about that that I can't add pressure to this week. I'm freerolling and it feels good.

"I'm about as free and relaxed at a major than I think I've ever felt. Maybe since arriving at Chambers Bay (2015 US Open) after (winning) the Masters and almost like I've accomplished something so great this year that anything else that happens, I can accept. That takes that pressure, that expectation away."

Spieth admits his biggest challenge this week will be taming a Quail Hollow course which will play every inch of its 7,600 yards due to the wet weather.

And while Rory McIlroy has won twice at the venue on the PGA Tour and holds the course record of 61, Spieth's only appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship in 2013 saw him finish 32nd.

"This is a very, very, very tough course and it's one that I need to drive the ball better than I've been driving it to have a chance to win this week," Spieth added. "I've been working hard on it and seeing some improvements. So as long as I can do that, then I should have chance.

"M y drives, and everybody's, are sticking. They stop where they land so I'm hitting it 290 instead of getting the roll out to 310. I'm hitting two extra clubs into greens but the greens aren't like the fairways.

"The greens are really firm and they are grainy. There are a lot of bowed greens so you can land the ball within three paces of each other and end up 40 feet apart. You have to have unbelievable distance control out here once you're in the fairway to get the ball close to these pins.

"This is going to be one of the most challenging tracks I think that we've played. The rough is brutal, this thick bermuda rough. We don't see it any more. It's an adjustment for everybody."

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