Jordan Spieth tees off in the final major of the year at Whistling Straits with Rory McIlroy and his world number one ranking in his sights.
A calendar Grand Slam may have eluded the 22-year-old for this year after the Texan missed out on adding The Open to his 2015 victories in the Masters and US Open, but Spieth can still make history at the PGA Championship, which starts today in Wisconsin, as he seeks to become the first golfer of the Masters era to emulate Ben Hogan’s 1953 feat and win three majors in a calendar year.
And then there is the more tangible incentive of replacing McIlroy as the world’s official number one-ranked golfer.
The pair will play the first two rounds together starting today (7.20pm Irish time) with Open champion Zach Johnson and Spieth’s stellar season has been such that reaching the top of the rankings has come into view much sooner than he expected having started the year with the modest ambition of making the cut in all four majors and getting into contention in one of them.
“I did not have a time-frame set like that,” Spieth said last night of his dreams of being No.1. “When that was a goal that was just a career goal at one point in my career I would like to be.
“Given everything that’s happened, I believe now I would like it obviously to be sooner rather than later and then to be able to hold on to it. That’s a whole other animal as I’m sure Rory knows, Adam Scott knows, Luke Donald knows, there’s Tiger, these guys that are in this field, Martin Kaymer, there’s Vijay (Singh), there’s a number of them that understand what it’s like.
“I don’t know what that feels like yet. That will be a new goal, if I can accomplish the one prior at some point in my career.”
Regarding his new year’s resolution, Spieth added: “I still haven’t accomplished that goal set at the beginning of the year that I said I wanted to make the cut in all the majors, I hadn’t done that before. And you wanted to contend and have a chance to win at least one of them.
“Certainly they have gone according to plan up to this point but that first part of that goal has yet to be accomplished so I got some work to do these first two days and from there we’ll adjust and work our butts off to try and get a third major this year, which would be a pretty cool place in history to be a part of.”
Spieth said he was excited to be chasing history in the company of his rival McIlroy but the Irishman’s return ahead of schedule from an ankle injury that prevented a head-to-head showdown at St Andrews last month did not change the dynamic of the tournament for the American.
“I think that’s just what you guys want to see. I think he and I just want to go out there and try and win the tournament.
“We’re all very happy to see him back. I was excited and what an incredible rehab that was to get back so soon and to get to 100%. Because I know he wouldn’t play unless he was, especially on this golf course. It’s a tough course to walk.
“So, I’m excited. I’m excited to just share a couple days with Rory and Zach as well. I played with Zach last week, he’s a good friend of mine. We’re going to have a good time, us three, and hopefully we can all feed off each other these two days. Hopefully we can all get into contention and it will certainly be exciting.”
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