The Open 2015

No tiger talk for Spieth

Don't compare till halfway through career, says 21-year-old as he chases Hogan's feat

ST ANDREWS (Scotland) • Jordan Spieth has distanced himself from inevitable comparisons with ex-No. 1 Tiger Woods as he stands on the brink of golfing history.

Spieth heads into the British Open having won the first two Majors of the year. Ben Hogan, in 1953, is the only person to have claimed the Masters and British Open in a calendar year.

Cross-references between Spieth, 21, and the once-imperious Woods, who only had one Major by his 22nd birthday, have been widespread but do not sit comfortably with the Texan at this point.

"I think the parallels that are drawn between me and Tiger are unfair," he said yesterday. "I think that's not something that, in my mind, is necessary. I think that's something that people are looking for but is not there with anybody right now because it's something I don't think that can 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.

FRUITLESS EXERCISE

I think the parallels that are drawn between me and Tiger are unfair. I think that's not something that, in my mind, is necessary. I think that's something that people are looking for but is not there with anybody right now...

JORDAN SPIETH, on comparisons between him and former world No. 1 Tiger Woods

"I'm extremely happy with where I've been and how we've been able to compete and win early and win a couple of Majors at my age, but at the same time, I certainly have an appreciation for how Tiger could continue and continue to keep winning Majors at just an unbelievable percentage of the amount that he played in because it's not easy."

Spieth is the overwhelming favourite to prevail on the Old Course, a matter due partly to the absence of the injured top-ranked Rory McIlroy. The world No. 2, however, has never played competitively at this venue and has also brushed aside the prospect of strong gusts, possibly up to 64kmh, disrupting his game.

  • Selected 1st rd tee offs (Singapore time)

  • 4pm Bubba Watson (USA), Ian Poulter (Eng), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa)

    4.11pm Lee Westwood (Eng), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Patrick Reed (USA)

    4.22pm Darren Clarke (Nir), Matteo Manassero (Ita)

    4.44pm Ryan Palmer (USA), Paul Lawrie (Sco), Kevin Kisner (USA)

    4.33pm Jordan Spieth (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Dustin Johnson (USA)

    4.55pm Jason Day (Aus), Tiger Woods (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

    5.17pm Stewart Cink (USA), Ben Curtis (USA), David Duval (USA)

    6. 44pm Jonas Blixt (Swe)

    7.39pm Padraig Harrington (Irl), Liang Wenchong (Chn), Marc Warren (Sco)

    7.50pm Jason Dufner (USA), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), John Daly (USA)

    8.01pm Zach Johnson (USA)

    8.12pm Gary Woodland (USA), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)

    8.23pm Bill Haas (USA), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Geoff Ogilvy (Aus)

    8.34pm Mark O'Meara (USA)

    9.12pm Adam Scott (Aus), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Jimmy Walker (USA)

    9.23pm Keegan Bradley (USA)

    9.34pm Phil Mickelson (USA), Henrik Stenson (Swe), Matt Kuchar (USA)

    9.45pm Justin Rose (Eng), Nick Faldo (Eng), Rickie Fowler (USA)

    9.56pm Jim Furyk (USA), Paul Casey (Eng), Branden Grace (Rsa)

    10.18pm Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Marc Leishman (Aus)

    10.29pm Edoardo Molinari (Ita)

"I think it's fun," Spieth said. "If we wanted good weather, we'd go play in California. We come over here because we want to embrace the opportunity of handling these conditions."

Rain and wind have been forecast for tomorrow, when morning starters in the second round include Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, and Rickie Fowler. In the afternoon, the likes of Spieth, Woods, and Dustin Johnson will tee off.

While it is uncertain whether the weather will favour the morning or afternoon starters, the draw could play a significant part in the outcome.

"The draw is a funny thing, especially at an Open Championship," Rose said. "It can make things lopsided... you just hope over the course of a career that that evens itself out. But I'd say the last five years I've been on the wrong side of things, but I was looking forward to maybe lady luck turning and going my way this year, so we'll see."

Last year, McIlroy made the most of the luck that went his way, taking advantage of favourable conditions en route to his third Major victory.

In 2002, Woods caught the worst of the weather during his third round at Muirfield, effectively ending his hopes of a Grand Slam.

With that feat now on the line for Spieth, the Dallas native remains positive.

"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," he said.

"I'm sure embracing 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."

THE GUARDIAN

BRITISH OPEN
Day 1: Session 1 (4pm). Session 2 (8.30pm) - Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'NO TIGER TALK FOR SPIETH'. Print Edition | Subscribe