Open win keeps the pressure off Jordan Spieth as Danny Willett changes coach

Jordan Spieth walks onto the 15th green during a practice round at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Jordan Spieth walks onto the 15th green during a practice round at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jordan Spieth walks onto the 15th green during a practice round at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jordan Spieth insists he is not feeling the pressure of trying to complete the career grand slam because he has no 'burning desire' to become the youngest to achieve the feat.

Spieth’s dramatic Open victory at Royal Birkdale means he needs to win the US PGA Championship to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors.

Woods was 24 years, seven months and 25 days old when he won the 2000 Open at St Andrews by eight shots, while Spieth celebrated his 24th birthday just four days after the Open, fittingly posting a picture on social media of a small birthday cake perched on top of the Claret Jug.

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But while all eyes are on the world No 2 this week at Quail Hollow, the man himself appears remarkably relaxed about the chance to write his name in the record books.

“Expectations, I really don’t feel any,” said Spieth. “This is a chance to complete the career grand slam, I’m here, so I’m going to go ahead and try. But I believe I’m going to have plenty of chances and I’m young enough to believe in my abilities that it will happen at some point.

“Do I have to be the youngest? No, I don’t feel that kind of pressure. Would it be really cool? Absolutely.

“This is a major championship. This is one of the four pivotal weeks of the year that we focus on. So there will certainly be pressure. I’m simply stating there won’t be added expectations or pressure.

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“How? I don’t know. I just don’t feel it. It’s not a burning desire to have to be the youngest to do something, and that would be the only reason there would be added expectations.

“If I don’t win one in the next 10 years, then maybe there’s added pressure then and hopefully we don’t have to have this conversation in 10 years. But if we do, then it might be a different.

“But it was only two weeks ago that I was able to get the third leg and that’s so fresh in my mind. I’m so happy about that that I can’t add pressure to this week. I’m freerolling and it feels good.

“I’m about as free and relaxed at a major than I think I’ve ever felt. Maybe since arriving at Chambers Bay (2015 US Open) after (winning) the Masters and almost like I’ve accomplished something so great this year that anything else that happens, I can accept. That takes that pressure, that expectation away.”

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Former Masters champion Danny Willett has changed coaches on the eve of the US PGA Championship in a bid to end his miserable run of form.

Sheffield’s Willett has withdrawn from three of his last seven events with a back injury which has severely hampered his performance. The 29-year-old was 76th of the 77 players to make the cut in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and shot 21 over par in finishing last in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. That appears to have been the final straw and prompted a split with long-time Rotherham coach Pete Cowen, with Willett working instead with Sean Foley – former coach to Tiger Woods – on the range at Quail Hollow.

Asked after the Open if an operation could be the answer to his back issues, Willett said: ‘’I don’t know. I’d do anything that helped.

‘’I don’t think it does need surgery, it’s more just getting it in line and the only thing that irritates it massively is swinging poorly.’’

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Willett, who has fallen from a career-high of ninth in the world rankings to 49th, gets his US PGA campaign under way at 8:30am local time (1330BST) on Thursday alongside Louis Oosthuizen and JB Holmes. Matt Fitzpatrick is also in the field, the former US Amateur champion teeing off among the later starters alongside Billy Horschel and S Kim.