By Ed Osmond
ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – When Jordan Spieth won the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale he appeared to have the golfing world at his feet with three major titles to his name at the age of 23.
The American, however, has failed to add to that haul, sliding down the world rankings to 92nd early last year following a sustained form slump from which he has only recently emerged.
Spieth finished runner-up to Collin Morikawa at the 2021 British Open and, back up to 12th in the rankings, will be one of the favourites to win the Claret Jug at St Andrews this year.
“I love links golf,” the 28-year-old told reporters on Tuesday.
“We don’t get true links in the States, regardless of where you are. And you get true links over here, and I really enjoy playing that way.”
Spieth also likes the atmosphere generated by the spectators at the only major championship played outside the U.S.
“I really enjoy the crowds over here. They’re the most educated fans in all of golf,” he said.
“They understand when sometimes you have a pitching wedge in your hand and 30 feet’s a really good shot.”
Spieth finished tied fourth the last time the Open was played at St Andrews in 2015, the year he sprung to prominence by winning the Masters and the U.S. Open.
“I think of myself as having a bit more momentum in 2015,” he said. “I don’t know how you can have more. But I think there’s certain parts of my game that I feel are stronger and there’s certain parts where I’m just trying to get right back to where they were at that point in time.”
Spieth believes he is a better player now despite his struggles.
“I feel I hit it further, I feel that my knowledge, round to round, of seeing a lot more majors and a lot more tournaments can mentally make me just a little bit — maybe I have some advantage on a shot that I wouldn’t have thought about then.”
He knows exactly what to expect from the Old Course at St Andrews.
“I don’t think there’s anything different here versus other venues I’ve played,” he said.
“There’s a big premium on putting the ball in the fairway and keeping it out of bunkers. If I can keep it out of fairway bunkers off the tee, then I believe that I’ll have a good chance.”
(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Toby Davis)