Jordan Spieth would become the youngest player to complete golfs grand slam if he wins the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow
If words and demeanour are anything to go by, the only heat Jordan Spieth will feel at the PGA Championship will come from the brutal Charlotte humidity. Whatever else may burden Spieth at Quail Hollow, it will not be external expectation.
Spieth stands on the verge of history. On Sunday evening, he could become the youngest player to complete a grand slam of major titles. Timing is everything; Spieth merely completed the third component of that carry, at the Open, less than 3 weeks ago. The 24 -year-olds euphoria after Royal Birkdale has not yet subsided.
There is likely to be pressure, he said. This is a major. This is one of the four pivotal weeks of the year we focus on. So there will certainly be pressure. Im simply stating, there wont be added expectations or pressure.
I merely dont feel it. Its 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 dont win this in the next 10 years, maybe theres added pressure then and hopefully we dont have to have this conversation in 10 years. If we do, then it might be a different.
But it was only weeks ago I was able to get the third leg and thats so fresh in my intellect. Im so happy about that I cant add pressure to this week. Im here so Im going to go ahead and try but I believe Im going to have plenty of opportunities. Im young enough and I believe in my abilities that it will happen at some point.
Im free-rolling and it feels good. Im about as free and relaxed at a major as I think Ive ever felt. Perhaps since Chambers Bay, arrived here Chambers Bay after the[ 2015] Masters. It was almost like Ive accomplished something so great this year that anything else that happens, I can accept. That takes that pressure, that expectation away. And at Chambers Bay? Spieth won the US Open.
There is fascination beyond Spieths bid to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen in winning golfs big four. Quail Hollow has long-since been regarded as the domain of Rory McIlroy, sufficiently so to induce him the favourite. If Spieth persists at a venue where he has competitively played only once before, it would add to the sense he is a phenomenon.
Nonetheless, the theory a long, soft venue plays perfectly into McIlroys hands, with Spieths inexperience here counting against him, is offset by two things. The first is Spieths ability to rapidly decoded courses, which has a solid basis in history with Augusta and St Andrews, two places where he has done exactly that. The second came when the Texan offered a fresh opinion on what precise abilities will be required over the coming days.
There is Sub Air[ drainage] here in 15 -month old greens, Spieth said. My drives are sticking, everyones are sticking. They stop where they land. Im hitting two extra clubs into greens.
But the greens arent like the fairways. The greens are firm and they are grainy. You can land balls within three paces of each other and end up 40 ft apart. You have to have unbelievable distance control to get the ball close to pins. So its going to be a challenge to have close birdie putts.
McIlroy proved his power during a practice session on Wednesday in which he constantly drove balls out of a driving range measuring 350 yds. It is undoubtedly the duel most golf fans would cherish on Sunday; Spieth v McIlroy, a battle which has been sadly missing from the denouement of recent majors.
Rory is a guy who is very difficult if you come into a one-on-one form situation no matter where it is, and especially in majors, because hes not afraid to reach the shot, Spieth said. He plays so aggressively and thats what you have to do to win. Youre going to lose some tournaments because of it, but youre going to win a lot more than playing any other way.
He won this tournament by eight shoots. Plainly that doesnt come from playing too safe. Even when he had the result, he kept his foot on the gas pedal. Hes said and done for dozens of worldwide victories. If youre matched up on Sunday, and you get to choose someone, you want to be able to play against somebody like Rory, who has four major championships and is one of the most accomplished players in this field. But he is one to dread in that posture because of what hes capable of doing and how hes going to do it.
It was a sad counterpoint that Woods, who won this championship four times, was subject to national courts hearing for a driving under the influence charge as Spieth et al completed final preparations. Community service and a rehabilitation programme beckon for Woods. Meanwhile his athletic moves on apace, with Spieth in the vanguard.
Danny Willetts latest bid to reverse a dreadful run has ensure the 2016 Masters champion part company with his long-time coach-and-four, Pete Cowen. Sean Foley, who once coached Timbers and now instructors Justin Rose, has started an alliance with Willett at Quail Hollow. Willett had his first conference with Foley on Tuesday before a practice round in the company of Rose later in the day.
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