Jordan Spieth insists he feels "free and relaxed" as he attempts to avoid added expectation and pressure in his bid to complete a career Grand Slam of majors at this week’s PGA Championship.
Victory for the world No 2 at Quail Hollow would make Spieth the youngest player in history to achieve the Grand Slam as he looks to emulate Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Spieth turned 24 four days after storming to his third major title with a remarkable back-nine at The Open last month, while Woods was just over four months shy of his 25th birthday when he joined the Grand Slam club with his record-breaking Open victory at St Andrews in 2000.
But Spieth is determined to avoid putting any extra expectations on himself in Charlotte this week, although he admitted the pressure could intensify if he does not win a PGA Championship within the next decade.
This is a major championship, this is one of the four pivotal weeks of the year that we focus on so there will certainly be pressure, but I’m simply stating there won’t be added expectations or pressure, Spieth said at his pre-tournament press conference.
I just don’t feel it. It’s not a burning desire to have to be the youngest to do something, and that would be the only reason there would be added expectations. If I don’t win a PGA in the next 10 years, then maybe there’s added pressure then, and hopefully we don’t have to have this conversation in 10 years. But if we do, then it might be different.
But it was only two weeks ago that I was able to get the third leg, and that’s so fresh in my mind. I’m happy that I can’t add pressure to this week. I’m free-rolling, and it feels good. I’m about as free and relaxed at a major than I think I’ve ever felt.
Expectations? I really don’t feel any. This is a chance to complete the career Grand Slam so I’m going to go ahead and try. But I believe I’m going to have plenty of chances, and I’m young enough to believe in my abilities that it will happen at some point.
Do I have to be the youngest? No, I don’t feel that kind of pressure. Would it be really cool? Absolutely, and I don’t come to a tournament unless I plan on giving it my all in preparation to have a chance and to ultimately close a tournament out. I recognise where we are and what it would mean to win a major, not anything else other than that.
While Spieth is wary of the strength of the competition this week, he is also conscious of the need to improve his driving as he described the challenging nature of the Quail Hollow course set-up with soft fairways, firm greens and brutal rough.
This is a very, very, very tough course, and it’s one that I need to drive the ball better than I’ve been driving it to have a chance to win this week, he added. I’ve been working hard on it and seeing some improvements, so as long as I can do that, then I should have chance.
My drives, and everybody’s, are sticking, so I’m hitting it 290 instead of getting the roll-out to 310. I’m hitting two extra clubs into greens but the greens aren’t like the fairways – the greens are really firm, and they are grainy. You have to have unbelievable distance control out here once you’re in the fairway to get the ball close to these pins.
So it’s going to be such a challenge to have close birdie putts out here from the looks of it, so speed putting and tricky little shots around the green become so important to save par. This is going to be one of the most challenging tracks I think that we have played.
(c) Sky News 2017: PGA Championship: Jordan Spieth plays down pressure of Grand Slam bid