Much to the dismay of some in the golf world, Jordan Spieth played the John Deere Classic in Illinois four days before the British Open instead of travelling to the UK early to prepare for what could be a historic week.
St. Andrews is an unique, links-style course that Spieth has minimal experience with, so it was a surprise that he decided to stay in the US until tournament week, especially since he has a chance to become the first player in 60 years to win the year’s first three majors.
In explaining his decision last month, Spieth told the Golf Channel that has been playing St. Andrews on a golf simulator a little bit in his house. He added that he has played St. Andrews once in his life, when he was 17.
“I think coming over earlier certainly could have helped. I just liked the fact that I could go somewhere where I could play hard and possibly win a PGA Tour event in preparation,” he said.
He downplayed the idea that playing St. Andrews on a simulator did much. As Tiger Woods pointed out at his own press conference, the defining characteristic of St. Andrews is the wind, and you can’t get that on a simulator.
“I’m in no way saying that’s what I did to prepare for this Open. It was fun and it certainly didn’t hurt, because it’s so realistic. You can see the start lines where you can see where you need to hit it. And then you get out here and it can change very much depending on the wind. So the course was a lot easier at 68 degrees and no breeze coming out of the air conditioner in that room.”
Spieth said he started getting ready for the tournament when he arrived on Monday.
“I got over here and the real preparation really started,” he said. “We played 18 holes late into the evening on Monday when we got here. Then I played a loop of 10 holes yesterday, the 10 holes I really wanted to see. I’ll play another full round today. That’s more golf than I usually play going into a tournament where I haven’t played the golf course before.”
The problem? None of those practice rounds came in the sort of windy conditions he’ll face this weekend.
“The hardest part is definitely the jet lag and probably the fact that we’ve had perfect weather playing this golf course,” he said. “So I would have liked to see tougher conditions in practice rounds to get used to prevailing winds and wind switches.”
Here’s the weather for the weekend. Rainy with 15-30 mph winds!
Spieth is the consensus favourite to win this week, but for whatever advantage he had in his familiarity with Chambers Bay at the US Open, he’ll have to win the third leg of the Spieth Slam on thoroughly uncommon ground.
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