On the eve of the 144th Open Championship, Jordan Spieth has urged the media and the fans not to compare him to Tiger Woods.
Having won two majors – The Masters and the US Open this year – at the young age of 21, and by dominating the sport like Woods did in his hey days, such comparisons were bound to happen.
Woods, a 14-time major champion, is the only player to have won all four titles at the same time, although it was spread over two different years.
But Spieth said: “I think the parallels that are drawn between me and Tiger are unfair.
“In my mind, I think that’s not something that is necessary. That’s something that people are looking for, but it is not there. It’s something that can’t be compared until at least midway through their career. This is an early timetable.
“When people ask me about those kind of parallels, I try and shake it off because it’s not the same. I’m extremely happy with where I’ve been and how we’ve won a couple majors at my age, but at the same time, I certainly have an appreciation for how Tiger could continue and continue and continue to keep winning majors.
“That’s not easy. It’s very challenging. You have to be at the top of your game and the top of your mental game. All the skills have to be there, and for him to consistently do it is a completely different level. Nobody that I think is playing right now has seen that. Obviously, Jack coming before and Arnie and Hogan, that’s the category you should be paralleling. I don’t think it’s fair to do that right now.”
The young Texan admitted he was very aware of his tryst with history (only his fellow Texan, the legendary Ben Hogan, has won the first three majors in a single season in 1953), but promised he’s do his best to treat the Open as just another tournament.
“Sure, I’m aware. I like to study the history of golf, and I think it’s extremely special what this year has brought to our team and to have a chance to do what only one other person in the history of golf has done doesn’t come around very often,” said Spieth.
“I want to embrace that opportunity, but by the time I start on Thursday, it won’t be in my head. It’ll be about how can I bring this Open Championship down to just another event, get out there and try and get myself into contention. But I am certainly aware of it.
Gary Player on Spieth’s Grand Slam chances: “He can do it. He’s the best putter in the world.” #TheOpen
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 15, 2015
“I don’t look as this as trying to win three in a row, I look at this as trying to win The Open Championship at a very special place. And that’s the hardest thing for me is trying to forget about where you are because St Andrews is special and the past champions who won Opens here, that’s elite company.”
Spieth said he was delighted with his preparation for the Open, especially after winning last week’s John Deere Classic. His participation in that tournament had come in for criticism, as experts felt he could have done better by coming to Scotland earlier and practicing on links courses.
He was also confident he would be able to draw on his experience last year, when after winning the Australian Open in Melbourne, he travelled halfway across the globe to Florida and still won Tiger’s World Challenge tournament with a record score.
“I don’t think anybody is going to argue with a win, and that was what we set out to do last week, to feel the pressure, try and feel the pressure over the weekend and try and perform my best,” Spieth said.
“I wanted to see what tendencies I got into and if we could adjust that during major championship pressure, and that’s exactly what we did. That was the game plan. I’m happy that it worked out.
“I think I can draw on winning Tiger’s event. The toughest part here is just the time change, and it’s only six hours. It’s not like you’re going to Asia where you normally need a couple days to even be able to wake up. I’m sleeping just fine, adjusting to jet lag great. By tomorrow morning, I’ll be 100 per cent.”
Spieth is paired with Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama for the first two days and tees off at 12.33 UAE time on Thursday.
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