US OPEN winner Jordan Spieth has played down his burgeoning rivalry with Rory McIlroy but admits he is hungry to replace the Northern Irishman as golf’s world No1.
Spieth, 21, became the youngest player for 93 years to win multiple Majors before his 22nd birthday when he followed up April’s Masters victory with success at Chambers Bay late on Sunday night.
The American is only the sixth man to don the Green Jacket and win the US Open in the same season, and could yet become the first in history to claim all four Majors in the same calendar year.
This latest win edged the world No2 closer to McIlroy, and although Spieth insists he does not yet deserve comparison with the 26-year-old, he is adamant he is ready to snatch top spot in the rankings.
“I don’t think there is much of a rivalry. I’ve said that from the beginning. Rory has four majors and dozens of wins and I’m just starting out,” said the Texan.
“I’m certainly quite a bit younger than he is. I’m just happy to have this [US Open title] and to be chasing that No1 spot that he holds. So I’m certainly focused on that.”
Fallen former world No1 Tiger Woods has come closest to achieving an unprecedented clean sweep of all Majors in a calendar year when he won four in succession between 2000 and 2001. Spieth believes he can outdo that by landing the Open Championship at St Andrews next month and the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August.
“I think it’s in the realm of possibility,” he added. “I think that the Grand Slam is something that I never could really fathom somebody doing, considering I watched Tiger win when he was winning whatever percentage of the majors he played in and he won the Tiger Slam, but he never won the four in one year. And I figured if anybody was going to do it, it would be him, which he still can.”
Spieth held his nerve on a tortuous final day at the controversial links-like Chambers Bay course to win by one shot from compatriot Dustin Johnson, who three-putted at the last hole.
“I’ve proven to myself that I can win on a British-style golf course now,” he said. “Now I take it to the truest British-style golf course of any in the world. I’m just excited for the opportunity coming then, and I’m not going to think about what could possibly happen after.”
McIlroy, 26, insists his game is in good shape after he briefly charged into contention with six birdies in the first 13 holes before dropped shots at 15 and 17 left him tied for ninth.
“The last few holes have not been kind to me this week and that’s where I will rue some missed opportunities,” he said. “I feel like it’s one that got away. I feel like I’ve never hit the ball as well in a major championship.”
KEY NUMBERS: JORDAN SPIETH’S US OPEN WIN
Jordan Spieth, 21, is the youngest man to win the US Open for 92 years – since Bobby Jones in 1923.
The Texan is just the sixth player to win the Masters and the US Open, the first two Majors of the season, in the same year. He follows Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Craig Wood.
Spieth is the first player since Gene Sarazen in 1922 to win multiple Majors before turning 22.
Further wins at the Open and US PGA would make him the first man in golf history to win all four Majors in the same calendar year. Woods has come closest, achieving the so-called Tiger Slam when he won four in a row across the 2000 and 2001 seasons.