Excited Spieth 'idolised' Masters partner McIlroy


Jordan Spieth is looking forward to playing the third round of the Masters with Rory McIlroy, having "idolised" the Northern Irishman in the early stages of his career.

Spieth saw his first-day lead of two shots cut in half on Friday, with his two-over 74 enabling McIlroy to move to within one of the leader on three-under for the competition.

The top two will be the final pairing to tee off at Augusta at 2:50pm local time (7:50pm BST), and the defending champion is looking forward to having the opportunity to play alongside someone he looked up to.

"I certainly have idolised his game coming up, and have really enjoyed battling out different tournaments," said Spieth. "Not necessarily with him; we haven't really been towards the lead in any events yet until this one. 

"It will be a fun round. We enjoy playing with each other. We've both played well, we've both played poorly. Just both seem to be on our games right now and obviously really focused on this week with a lot of fantastic players behind us.

"I'd rather be playing with someone less threatening to be honest.  He's certainly proven himself in majors, but I think it's going to be a really fun challenge."

With just four shots separating reigning champion Spieth at the top of the leaderboard to seven players tied for eighth, the world number two acknowledged he and McIlroy cannot afford to concentrate on a battle between themselves.

"I mean, there's the potential tomorrow for someone to shoot a few under and move up into the lead from outside the top-25.  There's a potential for that with what I saw on the last six holes today, the way the course was playing," continued the Texan.

"So I don't think either one of us is focused on each other, I think we're focused on the golf course. I think we'll just have it at that and not think much more of it."

Difficult conditions with swirling winds, awkward pin positions and quick greens led to relatively high scoring across the board on Friday, and Spieth is unsure how the course will play for the third round.

However, he suggested he prefers the tighter race compared to when he headed into Saturday with a five-shot advantage last year.

"I don't know how the course is going to play, given it looks like it's going to be really nice out. But something like a couple under over the weekend may be good enough, and that I felt like I can handle even better," he said.

"I was sitting down thinking, you know, this is nowhere near kind of the feeling of last year. Last year was a four-shot lead, but there were a lot of birdies to be had.

"I like this better.  I don't like the fact that if I were to go out and play a decent round but shoot even par, because stuff doesn't go in, guys could take the lead.

"Now if I strike the ball the way I want to strike it and I kind of map my way around the course the way that we do so well here, you don't need to force anything."