Jordan Spieth’s Open Championship preparation questioned by Paul McGinley

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth

Paul McGinley believes Jordan Spieth has stacked the odds of winning the Open Championship against himself by not being ruthless enough.

Spieth is looking to claim the third leg of an unprecedented calendar grand slam at St Andrews after winning the Masters in April and last month’s US Open.

But while Ryder Cup team-mates Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Matt Kuchar all acclimatised by playing links golf in the Scottish Open at Gullane, Spieth was contesting the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

The only players to win the Open after playing in America the week before are Ian Baker-Finch (who lost a play-off at the New England Classic in 1991) and Todd Hamilton, who was 59th in the John Deere Classic in 2004.

Spieth will only arrive in Scotland on Monday after an overnight charter flight and former Ryder Cup captain McGinley said: “Everybody’s different, but playing a lush inland golf course is very different than playing a links course.

“About 95 per cent of the last 20 Open champions have played some kinds of links the week before because it is very different (the last four Open winners contested the Scottish Open).

“I don’t want this to become a criticism of Jordan because I admire what he’s doing. He made a commitment before he won two major championships and he’s honouring that commitment. That’s to be admired not criticised.

“But it’ll be interesting to see as his career develops whether he’ll go down the road of preparing for the Open because it is a very different form of golf.”

Spieth’s only experience of the Old Course came before the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, a stark contrast to his preparations for the US Open at Chambers Bay.

“He played 63 holes of practice around Chambers Bay the week before the US Open,” McGinley added.

“He was more prepared than anyone in the field. He had a caddie who used to caddie there and was married there. Are you telling me that wasn’t the difference of one shot whether he won the US Open or not?

“I’m full of admiration for his sense of loyalty to sponsors who have been good to him in the past, but at the same time if you want to be really ruthless I believe you should, like tennis players, be practising on the same surface you play in the major. He’s not putting the odds in his favour, put it that way.

“All you want to do, like we did in the Ryder Cup, is just move the needle a little bit in your favour in so many areas. Knowing the golf course moves the needle. Being a big hitter moves the needle.

“You’ve got to look at the basics of it and when you add all those things up, the needle is not really being moved that much for Jordan, because he doesn’t know the golf course that well, he doesn’t hit it 310 yards in the air and he’s not playing a links golf course the week before.

“I’d be very interested to see who Jordan plays practice rounds with next week. You can gain so much information about how to play the golf course. Nick Faldo had those pages and pages of notes from (former R&A captain) Gerald Micklem that he referred to when he won the Open there in 1990.

“You can learn a lot from listening to people and Jordan is the sort of humble guy who will sit down and listen.”