Jordan Spieth sets his targets on Rory McIlroy's number one spot following Masters triumph

Spieth has become only the fifth player to win the Masters 'wire to wire'

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The Independent Online

The new Masters champion Jordan Spieth has declared that his next target was Rory McIlroy’s position as the world’s number 1, after becoming the second youngest player to take the green jacket.

The 21-year-old’s consistency across four days made McIlroy’s excellent final round 66 academic and Spieth said that he was now looking forward going head to head with the Northern Irishman. “The ultimate goal each week is to be the number one player in the world,” the young Texan said. “I don’t think I am with this [win.] I’m still behind him; still chasing that goal. But one step closer is huge. I don’t expect to change the way I’m playng.”

Spieth – who goes to Number 2 in the world behind McIlroy, with the triumph at Augusta which still eludes his rival, admitted that his power off the tee will never be the same as his but said he wants the rest of his game to see him to the top position in golf.  “He has got four majors,” Spieth said of McIlroy. “That’s something I can still only dream about. I won’t hit it as far as he does and that’s something I will just have to make up. I don’t know as far as the rivalry now. I’m looking forward to getting into the heat of the moment with him a couple of times and hopefully we can battle it.”

Spieth has become only the fifth player to win the Masters ‘wire to wire’ – leading from day one – and it is the lack of the erratic in his game, taken with a level of putting superior to McIlroy’s, which was the difference between the two. Spieth won by four shots from Phil Mickleson and Justin Rose, with McIlroy a further two shots behind, denied from achieving a career slam of majors.

 

Spieth’s description of the hours leading into Sunday – watching the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall on TV on Saturday night, struggling to sleep beyond 7am on Sunday morning, a text from his mentor Ben Crenshaw reminding him to telling his caddie that the first target must 20 under par –talked to the extraordinary composure he has displayed. Crenshaw’s text had said: “Stay patient. This is going to be yours. Just keep your head down and keep focussed.”

As late as the 16th green, where he was threatened with bogie and Rose, at that stage six shots behind, had a birdie chance, he felt the tournament could slip away from him. “The hardest part was just managing the situation and the mental side of it. The key moment came down to 16 - it was that late. I had [a] slide for par and Justin had that birdie putt and I thought it could get out of my hands here. I would call that the biggest putt I’ve ever had in my life.” Realistically though, the result never looked in doubt, with Rose unable to turn the screw on several occasions.

Spieth said that losing on the Masters’ final day to Bubba Watson last year had given a hunger to his golf, as did his play-off defeat in the Shell Houston Open last week. “I think it was not only last year but last week.  I was already hungry form last year having watched it slip away and everything that came with Bubba being champion,” he said. “You get reminded of it all the time because when you are Masters champion it’s a different legacy. Having the chance to win the last few weeks and not quite pulling it off [has had an impact.]”

The only player to take the green jacket at an earlier age was Tiger Wood and there were telling symmetries. Woods was also 21 when he first won the tournament in 1997 and, like Spieth, won at 18 under par. Rose said the young Texan’s arrival on the scene – becoming only the fourth player to win the tournament in his missed second appearance - had been surprising. “Yes it’s not an easy game so anyone who comes out plays at the levels he does - yes I am surprised because it really should not be that easy.”

Rose did have opportunities to pile pressure on Spieth at the ninth and 16th greens. He three putted at the ninth, when Spieth held par and also cited the 16th as a n opportunity. Rose said it was at that moment that he accepted the Masters green jacket would belong to Spieth’s, making him only the fifth player in Masters history to lead from the first round to the last: ‘wire to wire.’ “The momentum stopped for me on eight and nine,” Rose said. “I thought there were a couple of times [I had chances]. Jordan didn’t open the door and I didn’t expect him to.

The Englishman, whose excellent golf came a poor run of form, said he had been helped by a low histamine diet had been on to help allergy problems – a regime which left him looking pounds lighter this week. “I’ve eaten really clean for the last month,” he said. “I’m still training - lifting in the gym. It’s just the unwanted stuff that’s disappeared.”

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