“Not really. As long as I’m one of them, the other can be whoever it is. I don’t mind.”
That was World Number One Rory McElroy’s answer to a question about his budding rivalry with the number two-ranked player and Masters champion Jordan Speith.
Does golf need that kind of rivalry? Arnold vs. Jack. Jack vs. Watson. Tiger vs. Phil.
“Not really, because it’s been, like last year it was Rickie, this year it’s Jordan, might be someone else, could have been Tiger. It’s sort of, you know, there’s been four or five rivalries over the past year. So it’s not, it doesn’t really do anything for me,” McElroy explained amid chuckles and laughter from the assembled media.
So while the top ranked player in the world seems rather blasé about who’s behind him in the world rankings, Speith said it’s not a rivalry yet since McElroy is the clear-cut number one.
“I know that he is as far ahead of me as I am with the next eight guys,” Speith explained. “So with that being said, it’s kind of anybody’s game to get up there and make it interesting with him.”
Speith might be a bit modest with green jacket in hand at 21-years old. But he does have a stated goal of being ranked number one and seems to understand the work that it’ll take to get there.
“I mean he moved even further away from it really being what I would consider a budding rivalry right now. I could certainly appreciate if I could get to where he’s at, but right now I don’t see myself there.”
McElroy, Speith and Jason Day play together in the morning (8:39 on the 10th tee) on Thursday, giving the fans and the television audience a look at both of them together for the first time since Speith’s victory at the Masters.
“I’m very excited about the pairing for Rory and Jason, “I Jordan said this morning. “I’ve really, really enjoyed my time playing with both of them. I’ve been paired with them first couple rounds quite a few times, and in other rounds, too. I really haven’t battled it out on the weekend with either one of them. Two obviously extremely accomplished players and guys I look up to, couple of the nicest guys out here. Yeah, I mean it’s going to be a really, really cool scene out there.”
Meanwhile McElroy said he’s not going to be looking around at Speith or Day when he tees it up on Thursday.
“Honestly, I’m pretty much paying attention to myself out there when I’m just sort of trying to get myself around the golf course, and regardless of who I play with, that doesn’t really change,” he noted. “I’ll notice it because there’s going to be a bit more buzz around the group and a bit more excitement. But to me I’m out there and I’m focusing on my own game and trying to do the best that I can.”
While Jordan was eliminated from the Match Play and headed to Las Vegas to see the Mayweather-Pacquio fight, McElroy stuck around to win the event, then stayed in San Francisco to celebrate his birthday. He then flew to Orlando and arrived at the Stadium Course this afternoon to play nine holes and be ready for tomorrow.
Speith is a big fan of the course, McElroy is lukewarm toward it. Both have great respect for each other.
So what part of the other’s game would each like to have?
“I’d like to hit it as far as he does,” Speith said of McElroy’s prodigious length.
McElroy’s answer to the same question?
“I guess putting. He’s obviously been putting phenomenally well over the past few months. I think that’s been a big thing for him. You look at the putts that’s holed and the putts that he’s holed when he needed to. That’s been a big reason why he’s done so well.”