Golf: Spieth positive about Sydney stop despite putting woes

Jordan Spieth of the US hits a shot during the Australian Open Golf Championship at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, Australia.
Jordan Spieth of the US hits a shot during the Australian Open Golf Championship at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, Australia. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Jordan Spieth will depart Australia after his fourth successive November visit without the Stonehaven Cup but positive about his game after ending a seven-week layoff.

The world No. 2could not buy a putt for most of the week at The Australian Golf Club and a four-under 67 on Sunday was not enough to bridge the gap on the Australian Open leaders.

The 24-year-old completed the unsuccessful defence of the title he won in 2014 and again last year with a flourish, though, when he finally found his range with the putter and nailed a eight-footer for an eagle.

"You know, it happens, you have off putting weeks," the American said.

"(But) I feel really good about where things are right now, I feel a lot better today than I did after yesterday and the day before, and the day before.

"Today was a better putting day, even though I didn't make that many birdies. I may have had one bogey and a few birdies and an eagle, but it felt like it could have been something special."

Cameron Davis stunned even himself by shooting a seven-under 64 to win the tournament by a stroke after overnight leader Jason Day's title charge ended in a mid-round collapse.

The little-known Australian holed out for an eagle from the fairway at the 12th and sank an eight-foot putt for his sixth birdie at the 18th to upstage not only compatriot Day but defending champion Spieth.

With five leading groups still playing when he signed for his 11-under 273, Davis was shocked that he had ended up with the Stonehaven Cup in his hands, A$225,000 (S$230,000) in the bank and a spot at next year's British Open.

Matt Jones, the 2015 champion and member of the host Australian Golf Club, shared second with Swede Jonas Blixt after both shot 68s in a dramatic final round.

Cameron Smith also shot a 68 to finish fourth on nine under but none of them was able to mount a challenge to knock Davis off the lead as the Sydney crosswinds wrought their customary havoc.

Former world No. 1 Day started the day with a one-stroke lead but calamity struck when his ball hit the edge of a bunker and dropped into the water for a double bogey at the ninth. Two more dropped shots at the 11th and 13th effectively killed off his hopes of winning his home Open for the first time to end his 2017 title drought and he finished fifth on eight-under.

Spieth had Cameron McCormick on his bag for the tournament as his regular caddie Michael Greller stayed in the United States to be with his newborn son and felt that having his coach out on the course with him had been a valuable experience.

"I think it just gives him a little bit more knowledge into the intricacies of a round and how things take shape over four, five hours," he said. "I think he has more respect for Michael and how difficult it is to caddy. He said his hips were hurting a lot and just judging the cross winds and trying to be confident in your decisions. He was fantastic though."

Next up for the Texan is Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and, although wary of the travel, Spieth thought he was in a good place with his game.

"I feel great," Spieth, who finished first, joint second and first on his previous three visits Down Under, added. "The game feels good and having Cam see pretty much all the swings that I hit, and all the putts, I have that kind of extra confidence.

"I know where things are throughout the swing and, so it should be easy, I shouldn't have too many questions next week, which will be nice."

Although eighth place and five shots behind winner Davis was not what he had been hoping for, Spieth did not rule out coming back for a fifth year.

"I'd love to explore it," he said.