McIlroy cools rivalry, Spieth's 'beast mode'

Rory McIlroy expects multiple threats, Spieth 'in the zone' at Masters - Gossip

Charlie Lemay's picture
Thu, 7 May 2015
McIlroy cools rivalry, Spieth's 'beast mode'

McIlroy dampens talk of new rivalry 

Rory McIlroy played down a rivalry with Masters champion Jordan Spieth as the pair prepare to do battle at the Players Championship.

The world number one and two have been paired together at TPC Sawgrass, but the four-time major champion says the 21-year-old is not the only player who can challenge his reign at the top of the rankings.

Rory at 26: the records

“Last year it was Rickie (Fowler), this year it’s Jordan, might be someone else, it could have been Tiger (Woods),” said the 26-year-old.  “There’s been four or five rivalries over the past year.”

McIlroy explained he would take Spieth’s putting if he could have a part of the youngster’s game, while the Texan said he would like the world number one’s length.

The duo will be joined by Australian Jason Day in the opening rounds of the PGA Tour’s flagship event.

Spieth in "beast mode" at Augusta

Jordan Spieth was in “beast mode” during the first round of the Masters before he “woke up” and made a bogey on the 15th hole.

The 21-year-old became the second youngest Green Jacket winner in history, after Tiger Woods, and became the first player to reach 19 under in the competition, following a record 28 birdie putts.

Jordan Spieth: swing sequence

Explaining the term, Spieth said: “I would call it in the zone. When you get into the zone everything feels right; you may not be striking every shot on the middle of the face, but it doesn't matter because it's coming out straight. You're hitting your lines, the hole keeps looking bigger on the green, and for me it's more putting than anything.

"Everything seems simpler. You don't really see anything else around you. All you see is that line, you see your high point, you see where it's going to roll over en route to going in. It's something that we all try and get it to each round, but it can only happen every once in a while and it's fun when it happens, because you don't really know what score you're at in the round.”

Langer concerned for Spieth 

Former world number one Bernhard Langer worries the weight of expectation on Jordan Spieth’s shoulders may be too much for the 21-year-old.

“There’s always a danger of that,” the two-time Masters champion said when asked if expectation could outstrip reality. “We have seen it happen with many players that have been called the next Jack Nicklaus or the next Arnold Palmer or now the next Tiger Woods.

TPC Sawgrass: review

“It’s a tremendous burden in a sense. It’s a great honour to be thrown in the mix of some of these names but at the same time every time he goes out there he knows what’s expected from him and that’s not easy.”

The 57-year-old German thinks the Texan will be one of the “top players” of the future, but said there is a “whole bunch of others who could compete at very much the same level”.

DJ's "grown up"

Dustin Johnson has “finally grown up”, according to coach Butch Harmon.

Harmon, Tiger Woods’s former coach, believes the break Johnson took from the game for “personal reasons” has allowed him the come back a “completely different person”.

Dustin Johnson: swing sequence

“What I’ve seen is a person, he may only be 30 years old, but he’s finally grown up and matured. He’s embraced that responsibility and it’s done wonders for him,” said Harmon.

Johnson, 30, won the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, a month after his comeback, and has five top 10 in his last eight starts. 

Nicklaus still has the power

Jack Nicklaus is on the list of the most powerful Americans 50 years and older.

The 18-time major champion, known as the Golden Bear, was ranked 30th on the Nic 50.

“Is there a golf-loving American in this country who doesn't love/respect/cherish the ‘Golden Bear?’” the entry on Nicklaus says.

“Nicklaus has also been nothing but gracious in the firestorm surrounding fellow golf prodigy Tiger Woods and that man’s pursuit of Nicklaus’ record-setting 18 titles at majors (Woods currently sits at 14). Golf legend, business mogul and his sport's greatest ambassador - we all love Jack.”

Top of the leaderboard is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, while presidential candidate Hillary Clinton features in the top 10. Actors Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks rank lower down.