Reigning US Open and Masters champion Jordan Spieth said Tuesday he wants injured world number one Rory McIlroy healthy and playing as soon as possible while trying to overtake him.
The 21-year-old American, playing at this week`s US PGA John Deere Classic, would become the first player since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the US and British Opens and the Masters in the same year if he can add the Claret Jug to his collection of major prizes next week at St. Andrews.
His task might have gotten easier after McIlroy, the reigning PGA Championship and British Open champion, announced Monday that he had ruptured a left ankle ligament playing football with his pals last Saturday and was unlikely to defend his crown next week in Scotland.
"I don`t change much in my life other than a couple things you obviously are a little more cautious of," Spieth said of mixing fun with avoiding injury. "But I don`t think there`s anything wrong with it. It`s just sometimes there are fluke accidents.
"And as far as with Rory, it`s just -- we want him back. Everybody does. It`s unlucky, it`s unfortunate and I`m sure he`s taking it harder on himself than anybody else. But I don`t think he did anything wrong. It just was an unfortunate situation and hopefully he rebounds quickly and gets back right to where he was."While the injury appears to have delayed a showdown of Spieth and McIlroy in top form, world number two Spieth wants McIlroy at his best as he tries to move past him into the top of the rankings heap -- one event at a time.
"The more you look at the big picture of things, the more weight there is on it," Spieth said. "I think if I just focus on how can I try and win the golf tournament this week, I`m going to inch my way closer to that ultimate goal. I didn`t think at the beginning of the year I would have a chance to get there this year and there certainly is an opportunity now. I`ve never been closer.
"If Rory hadn`t played the way he has played over the last couple years, I think I would have been number one. I`ve certainly played solid enough to be No. 1 in the world a lot of different years. It`s just it`s a tough position this year given how successful Rory is and I just need to keep working as hard as I have been and focus on this week and next week and a strong finish for the season."
Spieth is wary of injuries, but has no plans to curtail anything he does off the course for fun in the wake of McIlroy`s mishap.
"It is a little bit tricky, I guess. I don`t hold back. Everybody needs to have a life, too," Spieth said. "I do think every day you could get hurt. Sometimes there`s accidents that happen. I wouldn`t change anything I`m doing based on anything that`s happened."Some have criticized Spieth for playing so far from Scotland this week but Spieth is at the event which he won in 2013 to seal his spot on the US PGA Tour and he sees no major problems in getting across the Atlantic Ocean as well as some major benefits from playing the John Deere Classic.
"I`m here because I believe I can win this week. It`s advantageous for me to try and win this week and to get any kind of momentum I can into the Open Championship."