McIlroy plays down rivalry with Masters champion Spieth

Wed May 6, 2015 4:10pm EDT
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By Ben Everill

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Jordan Spieth talked down their budding rivalry as the pair took differing approaches to the $10 million Players Championship on Wednesday.

While Masters champion Spieth rates the PGA Tour's flagship event as the most prestigious behind the four majors, McIlroy's late arrival, at lunchtime on tournament eve, might suggest he does not place the Players on much of a pedestal.

Not that McIlroy has contempt for the event. It is one the Northern Irishman is keen to add to his glowing resume, but given his hectic schedule in winning the WGC-Cadillac Match Play last week, he decided less was more in the lead-up.

McIlroy played seven competitive rounds in San Francisco on the way to his 10th PGA tour win, with 69 holes needed on a mammoth weekend.

Consequently he figured that 18 holes in preparation for the Players Championship, or perhaps even less, on the famed TPC Sawgrass layout would be enough as he tries to improve on his career-best tie for sixth at the event last year.

"I don't think any tiredness is there. It's nice to get a couple of nights in my own bed and get up here and I feel pretty fresh," McIlroy told reporters after spending Monday and Tuesday nights at his South Florida home.

The Northern Irishman downplayed his rivalry with Spieth, with whom he will play the first two rounds in a high-profile threesome that also includes world number seven Jason Day of Australia.

"Not really, because it's been ... like last year it was Rickie (Fowler), this year it's Jordan, it might be someone else, could have been Tiger," McIlroy said.   Continued...

May 3, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Rory McIlroy chips to the green at the eleventh hole during day five of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY