Troon's Texan triumphs inspire Spieth


Jordan Spieth is drawing inspiration from the past performances of Texas-based players at Royal Troon as he goes in search of a first Open title this week.

Americans have triumphed on the last six occasions Troon has hosted golf's oldest major, and the two most recent Open winners in South Ayrshire have each lived in Spieth's home state.

Justin Leonard, who lifted the Claret Jug 19 years ago, was born and raised in Dallas like Spieth, while 2004 victor Todd Hamilton is a long-time Texas resident, originally from Illinois.

Images of past winners are ubiquitous at Troon and 22-year-old Spieth - who on Tuesday confirmed his withdrawal from the Rio Olympics - joked about the added pressure it brings to him, having been born in Dallas.

"I don't know how I'm going to be able to hit a shot this week," he said, prompting laughter from the assembled reporters.

"I don't think it impacts you [seeing photos of former champions on the clubhouse walls], but I think it's very cool to walk through the halls to see that. Just as it is at any of these fantastic, timeless clubhouses of these great clubs over here. You just see so much history as you walk through, and it's really fun to do.

"I did a lot of that Saturday, Sunday, spent some time walking through the clubhouse. It's something I really enjoy doing around here, because we don't have that kind of history in the States."

Leonard's victory at Troon came a week before Spieth's fourth birthday, but the world number three is able to faintly recall aspects of Hamilton's shock triumph.

"I remember the impact it had back home because he's a Vaquero guy from Southlake, Texas. So I remember that impact," added Spieth.

"I think I remember watching maybe the last few holes and it kind of, no offence to him, being a bit of a shock at the time, how well he withstood the pressure and continued to just make putt after putt.

"I played with him, actually, when I was really young out at Vaquero. I don't think he would have remembered it. I played a round with him. I thought it was cool to play with a major champion at the time. It was a unique experience."

Spieth won the first two majors of 2015 before coming agonisingly close to making a play-off at St Andrews 12 months ago as Zach Johnson claimed Open glory.

"I love this style of golf. I feel comfortable playing this style of golf," he added. 

"The Claret Jug is something I've now held in my hands - I was with Zach the night that he won it last year. I crave to have that trophy in my possession at some point, and to reach a third leg of the Grand Slam this week would be a fantastic achievement and a lifelong goal of mine."