Spieth aims for full speed ahead

Jordan Spieth, who finished second in last week's Australian Open, says he is not taking his current success for granted. He is competing this week at the Hero World Challenge, where his triumph last year sparked off a run of victories.
Jordan Spieth, who finished second in last week's Australian Open, says he is not taking his current success for granted. He is competing this week at the Hero World Challenge, where his triumph last year sparked off a run of victories.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

World No.1 says he has learnt how to close tournaments after enjoying a stellar 2015 campaign

NEW PROVIDENCE (Bahamas) • Jordan Spieth defends his title at this week's Hero World Challenge on a new course but the world No. 1 hopes his game enjoys the same lift it received last year.

The US star was fresh off an Australian Open title when he arrived at Isleworth and blitzed the invitational field for an impressive global back-to-back win, setting the stage for this year's first Major wins at the Masters and US Open.

Spieth arrived this year at the Bahamas for a showdown at the Albany resort after a runner-up finish Down Under alongside Aussie Adam Scott, each of them one back of winner Matt Jones.

But he recalled how much has changed since his hot streak began a year ago.

"Each time you don't come through, you wonder, 'Is it me? Is it my game?'" said Spieth ahead of this morning's (Singapore time) opening round in the elite 18-player event hosted by Tiger Woods to benefit his foundation.

HOME ON THE RANGE

I feel like I'm in a good spot now and have some good momentum going into next year.

ADAM SCOTT

"You hear the noise. 'He's a good player but he can't close.' There's still a large learning curve.

"It just clicked right at the end of that season into '15. It was tough. Some of the evenings were tough for me when I didn't close them out.

"It makes you appreciate it.

"You wonder how was I not able to do it back then. I feel confident that we can get the job done no matter where we are now."

Even now, the 22-year-old appreciates what he has much more, thanks to what he went through to obtain it.

"You still have to get the right breaks to win a tournament," said the Texan, who ended the 2014-15 PGA Tour season with record earnings of US$12,030,465 (S$17 million) before being voted Player of the Year.

"Last two holes at British Open, that's really the only letdown I had in my mind in Majors.

"Someone else is going to close it out or you're not quite going to pull the shots off."

Scott hopes he is the one to close out a title victory this week.

A year of transition has seen him fiddle with caddies, equipment and putting stroke ahead of the upcoming ban on anchored putters.

Now, he feels ready for 2016.

"I really like where my game has been going these last six to eight weeks," said the Australian.

"I feel like I'm moving forward with my game. Last week, it got into really nice shape.

"I'm really just hitting my stride.

"It took me a while to get settled in with all that stuff.

"I feel like I'm in a good spot now and have some good momentum going into next year."

He will play alongside England's Justin Rose, who like Scott is a member at the Albany resort where they will play. Rose, who won the Hong Kong Open, is fifth in the world rankings, with Scott 10th.

Rose and Scott are each top seven in four of their past five global starts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'SPIETH AIMS FOR FULL SPEED AHEAD'. Print Edition | Subscribe