Major champion Spieth in form and raring to go
Jordan Spieth will go into The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale justifiably installed as one of the favourites to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday evening.
Spieth burst on to the scene in 2015 when, at 21 years and 259 days, he became the second youngest winner of the Masters Tournament behind Tiger Woods and then promptly followed up with victory at the US Open. A month later he was in serious contention at The Open at St Andrews before settling for a share of fourth place. Before long he was world No.1.
By the standards he had set himself, the young American had a relatively fallow 2016, but he has come back into top form in recent months and has arrived on the north-west coast of England having won his last event, where he holed out for a birdie from a bunker in a play-off at the Travelers Championship in the US. It was his second win of the season and moved him to No.3 in the world rankings.
Now he is primed and raring to go, focused on winning his third major championship. “I'm very excited for another major, coming off a win and few weeks’ break,” he said. “I feel fresh and ready to go. I like the golf course, it's very cool. It's a very tough but fair test, one that's demanding off the tee.”
He went on vacation “not wanting to touch a club” and before he knew it the fire to play was once more burning inside. “I’ve put in some pretty solid work over the last week and the game feels really good right now.”
Each of the last seven majors has been won by first-time champions. It is a statistic which impresses Spieth, but one that also shows how difficult they are to win. “There are a lot more guys who haven't won majors than guys who have that are playing, “ he said. “So the chances are it is going to be somebody that hasn't won one. But it's very difficult to do the first time. Just mentally it's that much harder than winning a tournament in general.”
He does, though, point out that being on the wrong side of the draw in terms of the weather can take players out of contention. “You cut half the field, depending on the draw,” he suggested. “Most of the time there's at least a group that gets the worst weather. And it's almost impossible to win in that circumstance at an Open Championship.”
On another note, he was asked if he, or any other player, is likely to dominate the game in the same way as Tiger Woods once did. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up,” he replied with candour. “I doubt you'll see a dominance like that maybe ever again in the game.”
Is he selling himself short? Only time will tell.