Date: November 29, 2014
Author: Mark Hayes @ The Australian GC

Spieth: let it blow


Australian golf fans made a foolish mistake in 2011 before the Presidents Cup.

Many assumed the hard and fast Royal Melbourne and gusting spring winds would be too much for an American team raised on soft, green surfaces and golf seemingly played in a vacuum more often than not.

Wrong. Completely wrong.

The visitors went about learning the nuances early in the week and by the time whips were cracking late in the week, they looked as though they’d been playing on the Sandbelt all their lives.

Flash forward three years and the underestimation of world-class Americans being able to adapt is again bringing some pundits undone.

This time, it’s Jordan Spieth. And while nobody under-rates his skills as a Ryder Cup hero and world No.14, the Texan is not only proving adept at mastering one of our toughest tests, he actually wants it to get harder.

Spieth fired a two-under-par 69 today to return to the joint lead of the Emirates Australian Open.

And while he acknowledged The Australian as a severe test as gusting north-easterly winds buffeted the course, he felt if the conditions were replicated tomorrow, he’d be right in the mix on the back nine.

“It’s very challenging. It was a tough track today – almost every hole was a side wind,” Spieth said as he prepared for a final-group shootout with Greg Chalmers and Brett Rumford with Adam Scott just one shot adrift.

“It was tough to get the right yardage, let alone accuracy. I felt like I really hung in there nicely – I had three bogeys, one unlucky and a couple unforced.

“But for the most part to grab five birdies on a day like today, if I can do that tomorrow I’ll be in pretty good shape.

“But I don’t mind the wind at all, I almost prefer wind and a very difficult golf course. It almost plays into my hands.”

Spieth said the chances of a low score tomorrow were diminished greatly by the expected repeat of today’s gusting conditions, especially late in the afternoon.

And he said even putts within a metre were becoming tough as the course dried out for the final groups.

“The greens are a different colour today, they’re baked, very shiny and they’ve firmed up significantly and with this wind there are putts that are lightning fast,” he said.

“If the greens get any firmer, it’s going to be a real grind.

“In first two rounds I was surprised there wasn’t a low number, but tomorrow I don’t see a low number out there.”

Spieth’s round should have been at least one shot better after he nipped a neat sand wedge from 70m with this third shot to the ninth hole only to hit the pin and watch in disbelief as it spun back off the front of the green.

“I hit it pretty nicely and it was spinning a bit so I don’t think it wasn’t going to be more than six feet (2m) past, but those things happen,” he said.

“I’ve just got to try to keep the mistakes out of it tomorrow and hopefully I will be in there on the back nine.”