Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spieth: 'Getting No. 1 isn’t the pressure that I feel'

HUMBLE, Texas – The top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings appears out of reach for the foreseeable future, but Jordan Spieth has his eye on another prize.

Spieth has been ranked world No. 1 for a total of 26 weeks, most recently in March 2016. But he’s now ranked sixth, more than five OWGR points behind Dustin Johnson who has won each of his last three starts. With Johnson’s decision to withdraw from this week’s Shell Houston Open, he’s assured of entering the Masters with a four-point lead over Rory McIlroy – a gap over No. 2 that only McIlroy and Tiger Woods have enjoyed at any point during the last 20 years.

It means that Johnson will likely be topping the standings for a while, and it’s hardly a development that comes as a shock to Spieth.

Shell Houston Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Whatever free-up he needed that we didn’t need him to have, he got,” Spieth said Wednesday. “So I’m not the least bit surprised that he is the guy to beat. And it’s going to be very difficult at this point, considering he was No. 1 and he’s won two World Golf Championships in two starts. So I’m pretty sure he’s got a big lead now.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Spieth was part of a revolving door at No. 1 as he took turns trading places with McIlroy and Jason Day. But with Johnson strengthening his grip on the top spot, Spieth instead intends to focus on the hardware at stake beginning next week rather than the prestige that comes with reaching the pinnacle of the world rankings.

“Major championships have huge weight, and I’m not focused on trying to win majors to get to No. 1 anymore. It’s just trying to do it to do it,” he said. “Getting No. 1 isn’t the pressure that I feel, but that’s the only way to really take big strides toward him because I don’t think he’s letting up anytime soon.”

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