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Spieth determined to edge closer to career grand slam

By Phil Casey

A "fired up" Jordan Spieth is aiming to bring an end to the streak of first-time major winners and capture the third leg of a career grand slam at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth came agonisingly close to doing so in 2015 when he followed victories in the Masters and US Open by missing out on a play-off for the Open Championship at St Andrews by a single shot.

And he suffered more major heartache in defence of his Masters title last year, when he squandered a five-shot lead with nine holes to play as England's Danny Willett claimed the green jacket at Augusta National.

But the 23-year-old comes into this week on the back of his second victory of the season in the Travelers Championship, where he holed a bunker shot on the first play-off hole to edge out Daniel Berger.

"I'm very excited for another major, coming off a win and few weeks' break," the world number three said. "I feel fresh, feel ready to go.

"I went with some friends on vacation and it was kind of nice to put your feet in the sand and take a deep breath.

"I went six out of seven weeks prior, so it was a heavy stretch with a couple of them being home events, which also you think would be more rest, but they're actually pretty crazy.

"So it was just kind of nice to breathe deeply for a week straight out there and then come back with a little fire and a little longing to get back to work.

"I went away not wanting to touch a club. And then after a few days of resting, you start to want to bring it back."

The streak of first-time major winners started after Zach Johnson emerged victorious from the 2015 Open play-off against Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen, with Jason Day winning the US PGA a month later.

Willett then capitalised on Spieth's collapse in the Masters and was followed into the winner's circle in 2016 by Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker, while Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka won the 2017 Masters and US Open title respectively.

Asked if that meant it was possible for a dominant player such as Tiger Woods to emerge, Spieth added: "I wouldn't get your hopes up.

"Having experienced a year like he continued to do for years, it just takes a lot out of you. It's very tough to do. You have to have a lot of things go right at the right times.

"I doubt you'll see a dominance like that maybe ever again in the game.

"I just think guys are learning, guys are getting stronger. Athletes are going to golf.

"Guys are winning younger, playing more fearless, even in major championships.

"I think it's going to be a very exciting time going forward of guys that are going to be playing and battling against each other," he said.

"You'll see a group of 10 to 12 guys over the next 15, 20 years, that are going to have a lot of different competitions that come down the stretch with each other," he added.

"It's different than one person being the guy to beat. But I think it's exciting."

Belfast Telegraph

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