Past Masters champion, Jordan Spieth may have singled out Bubba Watson as favourite next week to win a third Masters but says all the pressure will be on the shoulders of Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy squeezed in the first of two Augusta National practice rounds yesterday and will play a second today ahead of his assault on the Grand Slam. And while McIlroy and caddy Harry Diamond make themselves more familiar with the year’s first Major Championship venue, Spieth is looking to find a lost game by again contesting the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston course in suburban Humble.
Spieth, now at World No. 4, will look to draw on memories of having been runner-up in Houston in 2015 and then going on to Augusta a week later to sensationally capture a first Major.
But when asked who he thought had the most pressure on his shoulders next week Spieth singled out Rory McIlroy.
“I would say Bubba is favourite at this point but the only person who should feel any pressure, actually, there’s nobody who should really feel any pressure on them, but I would say Rory will as he has the chance to within the career Grand Slam,” said Spieth.
“That’s something that he truly wants and so if there’s one week a year that if he said he could win one tournament at the beginning of every year, he’ll probably pick Augusta, and therefore he puts more emphasis on it.”
“I still don’t feel he should feel any pressure and he probably will feel just the normal championship pressure he feels every week.”
Spieth will tee-up in his fifth Masters having enjoyed results of 2nd (2014), 1st (2015), 2nd (2016) and 11th last year while he is competing this week in Houston where he finished a best of second in 2015 before heading to Augusta to capture the first of now three Major Championships.
But given his downturn in form Spieth was quizzed if he felt more at ease heading into the Masters in not being mentioned as an Augusta favourite.
“No, it doesn’t make a difference to me at all,” he said. “I don’t care either way. We believe that if we go about our step-by-step goal and check all the boxes next week, then we’ll have a chance to win. I don’t really care who’s on the other side, but it will be fun.”
“It will be interesting to see who we’re paired with. I know they’ve done the other three major winners in the past and Brooks is out, so that would be Justin and somebody else. So it could be a fun couple days in that sense. I’m not sure how they’re going to work the pairings.”
“We’ll just get in there and try and go through the same process every year there.”