Date: November 19, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

THE GUN: Spieth primed for 2014 reprise


There was a bunch heading out around the same score for the final round in 2014 at The Australian before Jordan Spieth carved his name into Emirates Australian Open history.

Spieth, then on his first visit to Australia, had taken his time to adjust to the conditions, but unleashed what many believed the greatest final round ever seen in the chase for the Stonehaven Cup.

His 63 in trying conditions will long live in the minds of those who witnessed it, so it was no surprise that it came up today after the world No.5 edged rather than charged into a remarkably similar position.

Perhaps ominously for his fellow contenders in tomorrow’s finale to the 2016 edition, Spieth said he’d finally straightened out his normally trusty putter and was becoming familiar with the Royal Sydney layout on which he first set foot just five days ago.

“I feel very confident about where things are, so yeah, off of 2014, that was a round that kind of felt like an easy 63, if that makes any sense,” the American said.

“It just felt like I went out trying to just take advantage of each hole when I sit on the tee box and it did wonders for me going forward.

“So, I’m very excited about the opportunity tomorrow.

“I felt more comfortable when I was putting today. I still missed a couple of short ones, but certainly felt more comfortable.

“I still struggled a bit on the reads and adjusting to the speed.  They were a bit slower than what they kind of looked like – that poa annua really grabs it in the afternoon and it makes it a bit slower.

“So, I’m just going to be more aggressive on the greens tomorrow, now that I feel more comfortable.”

Spieth was pleased to sign for a 68 after being one over through five holes, but four birdies in five holes from the 12th enabled him to surge to nine under and a share of second just two behind Geoff Ogilvy.

Spieth, whose reactions to shots again showed his passion for the Stonehaven Cup, concurred that the 2014 comparisons were reasonable.

“Yeah, I felt very confident starting that (final) round. I felt like it was my tournament (and) I feel that way here,” the Texan said.

“I feel like my best golf is yet to come out and therefore at this present moment I feel very confident about where things are and where they’ve progressed over the last three days.”

“I can draw on 2014 for sure, recognising (that) the moves (today) were made from people that were not in the last few groups.

“So, I’ll expect that again tomorrow, people to be firing and on a tight course where you can take a lot of risk-reward (shots) – it’s going to pay off for some players.

“Understanding that is going to be key and not having that kind of get into my head and make me feel like I have to do too much.

“The reason we shot 63 (in 2014) wasn’t because we went out that day trying to shoot 63, it was because we went out, we were patient, recognised that other people were going to make moves but at the same time, if you’re playing a risk game, I’m going to play to my strengths.

“I’ve been playing very aggressive.  I may dial back on a couple of holes if I’m in the position to do so, but, for the most part, I’m going to stay true to myself.”

In other words: field, look out.