Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy & Jason Day head to Ohio in form

By Iain CarterBBC golf correspondent
Chris Wood
Chris Wood has climbed to a career high of 22 in the world rankings

In recent weeks the so-called "big three" was being reduced to the "big one" because Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy were struggling to live with the excellence of top dog Jason Day.

Yet now the world's leading trio head to this week's Memorial Tournament in Ohio each having won on their last outing before this popular PGA Tour stop, which is hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

Spieth put behind him his Masters meltdown in clinical style with an extraordinary final round to win the Colonial Invitational in his native Texas last Sunday.

The US Open champion described it as one of the most important days of his career.

"I wasn't sure how long it would take to get over the hurdle, of having to come into every interview room, having to listen to the crowds, talking only about what happened a month ago," Spieth said.

"I'm 22 and we've won two majors. But it's very difficult to stay present, to stay positive, when that's happening, when those are the only questions. So in our third tournament coming back to close this one out the way we did is really, really special."

The previous week McIlroy was similarly emotional and at his audacious best to record his first victory of the year at the Irish Open.

And all of this was in the wake of Day's superb victory at the Players Championship.

Certainly, the Australian world number one produced the most impressive of these victories because he beat arguably the strongest field in the game - Spieth and McIlroy included.

Jordan Spieth
Spieth won the Colonial National Invitational by three shots in front of his home crowd in Texas

But the much-needed wins achieved by Day's two closest rivals have set up perfectly a summer where the remaining three majors will be decided in a hectic seven-week spell that will soon be upon us.

The US Open starts at Oakmont on June 16 and the major season will be concluded when the US PGA ends at Baltusrol on July 31.

Who knows how the men's golfing landscape will look then?

Fortune shifts so quickly on the professional tours. Not only have McIlroy and Spieth turned around their years in dramatic style but so too has Bristol's Chris Wood at Wentworth last Sunday.

The tall Englishman was without a top-10 finish since February's Dubai Desert Classic until he turned a three-stroke deficit after 54 holes into a one-shot victory at the BMW PGA Championship.

The win propelled him into the top three of the European Ryder Cup qualifying table and he may have to cancel his stag do to accommodate August's Olympics as well.

Wood has climbed to a career high 22 in the world with his third win on the Tour. He has never been one to need extra motivation, but says the Masters win of English contemporary Danny Willett helped inspire this Wentworth success.

It was also a triumph for the spirit that is the hallmark of so many leading professionals - that desire to acquire the extra percentage point of excellence that makes the difference.

"This time last year, I finished with my long-term coach, Paul Mitchell, and that was probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make," Wood said.

They had worked together for 15 years before Wood turned to Mike Walker, the Yorkshire coach who, along with Pete Cowen, has helped Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick to so much of their success.

Chris Wood wins 2016 PGA Championship

Wood says Walker has "done wonders" for his swing, but it turns out that Mitchell also played a crucial role in the most important win of his career.

"About six weeks ago, I got in touch with Paul again to try and help me at home on the scoring element of the game; wedges, distance control, short game, to have two or three sessions a month with him.

"He brought so much more to my game than just a swing coach," Wood added.

"Obviously, this has worked very quickly, just feeling confident and comfortable with those sorts of shots and sharpening up my short game. I feel like that had been missing the first six months this season."

The second half of the year could easily include a Ryder Cup debut, something that has been in Wood's mind since playing under skipper Darren Clarke in January's EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

"I've played quite a lot with Clarkey recently," Wood told BBC Sport. "We had a great experience at the EurAsia Cup at the start of the year.

"He played a lot of video in the team room about the Ryder Cup and it definitely spurs you on and obviously this is a big step towards that, but there's still four or five months left to put some more points on the board."

So there is every chance of Wood lining up alongside McIlroy at Hazeltine in September for Europe's trophy defence against an American team with Spieth at the vanguard.

Wood is already rubbing shoulders with the world's best, but it is clear the so-called "big three" are in no mood to be knocked from their lofty perch any time soon.


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