Beware the golfer with a point to prove, let alone one who has already won two major championships in 2015.
Jordan Spieth could have ended his season after winning the US Open – having done likewise at the Masters – and been perfectly content. That is not the approach which has catapulted the young Texan to No2 in the world, however; the failure to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews in July still rankles with the 22-year-old.
At Whistling Straits, where Spieth will begin his quest for the US PGA Championship in the company of Rory McIlroy, he is on a mission with his caddie to shake off that disappointment.
“We wanted to work hard and give ourselves a chance and I felt like, if we did that, we could pull it off,” said Spieth of St Andrews, where he finished one shot short of a play-off. “And unlike the first two majors I had a chance to win and I didn’t pull it off. That was the hardest part to get over for me. It wasn’t coming here, trying to win a grand slam [had Spieth won the Open].
“I knew the history of it. I knew what we possibly could have done but at the same time my frustration we were tied for the lead with two holes to go with one of them being a birdie hole and we didn’t close it out. We didn’t even get into a play-off.
“That was the hardest part for me and I certainly have a chip on my shoulder off of that major that I’m wanting to get off.”
Further motivation for Spieth? He has missed the cut in two previous appearances at this event. “That irks me a little bit,” he conceded.
The significance of partnering McIlroy over 36 holes is not lost on Spieth. He is not, though, of a mind to talk up what is regarded as a highly exciting rivalry. “I think that’s just what you guys [in the media] want to see,” Spieth said. “I think he and I just want to go out there and try and win the tournament. We have to beat each other in order to do that, along with 100 and how many other people are in the event.
“I’m excited. I’m excited to just share a couple days with Rory and Zach Johnson, 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.
“Rory’s an inspiring player, as you guys already know, and I enjoy playing with him. It’s fun when you can feed off guys that are incredible golfers.”
Spieth may insist he never had a timeframe by which to target becoming No1 in the world rankings, as he can legitimately do now. Still, the level of attention towards him now – particularly in the United States – endorses a rapid rise.
“There are certain things you can and can’t do that you maybe could before,” he admitted. “But also great new opportunities have opened themselves up that I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of having. So, it’s mostly all good. If you want to have a quiet dinner, you better bring it home to your house.”
The upcoming four days will be anything but tame with Spieth, inevitably, as a key protagonist.
This article was written by Ewan Murray at Whistling Straits, for theguardian.com on Thursday 13th August 2015 00.23 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010