Date: November 25, 2014
Author: Martin Blake @ The Australian

Spieth upbeat on Open chances

Jordan Spieth arrived in Australia for the first time with a smile on his face.

Spieth, a Texan who is No. 14 in the world, sees himself as a world player; acknowledges how the game of golf is becoming more global over time.

The American said he intends playing the Australian Open many times beyond this year.

He came from Japan, where he was beaten in a playoff by Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday, indicating that his game is in good shape.

He is coming off a winless year so far after he was rookie of the year on the United States PGA Tour in 2013, winning the John Deere Classic and becoming the fourth-youngest winner of an American tour event at just 19 years.

But 2014 has not been a disaster by any stretch. He led the Masters at Augusta National through 54 holes, and was two shots ahead walking up the eighth hole on the final day before Bubba Watson reeled him in. He also played well at the Ryder Cup, and like all golfers, saw and felt that he was alive in the moment.

At just 21, it's about testing himself. "Looking back, I take all positives from it,'' he said. "That was something that was very different from being in contention at a PGA Tour event and the feeling was certainly different. You don't sleep very well at night when you sleep on the leader at Augusta going into Sunday. But I was so excited. I felt like I handled myself well.

"I felt like my game, I produced the shots I wanted to hit, I hit great putts and I was in the lead by two going to number eight and then a couple of unfortunate breaks through the back nine and I just didn't quite get a putt to go, but they were good putts and I really struck the ball well.

?"So I took a ton of positives out of that week going forward because a great champion like Rory McIlroy, I can look at what he did when he was in this first position to win the Masters and he obviously rebounded pretty well since then. That's a guy I can learn from on a close call at a major and then the next time being in a position not only closing it out, but closing it out in historic fashion.

?"I look back there and then the Ryder Cup, played some great golf with pressure that was even higher than Augusta. I didn't think that would be possible, but it was. That's what we play for and that's what we live for; that's what we dream about, is playing under those circumstances and feeling the adrenalin, feeling the rush and seeing how you perform.''

Spieth has an Australian, Cameron McCormack, as his instructor, so he has been fed plenty of information about antipodean golf. The pair were introduced eight years ago in Spieth's home city of Dallas, Texas, where McCormack was working, and they have been together since.

"It's been a great relationship since day one. Now it's great. We have an unbelievable time. I learn a lot. He's extremely, extremely talented and I have 100 per cent full and complete trust in him.''

Spieth is one of the golden generation of world class players, along with Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler to name a couple, who have taken the game by storm as Tiger Woods, the pre-eminent player for more than a decade, shows signs of wilting. Undoubtedly it is McIlroy as a multiple major champion that he believes he needs to overtake; as it happens, they will be in close proximity this week.

"All I did was I look at who are the best players in the world right now, what have they done, where have they set the bar and how can I achieve it,'' he said. "You've got to keep your head down and keep on moving forward. You can't be satisfied with where I am right now. Like I said; a little disappointment in not having a victory this year. I could have played well and done some better things throughout the year, but it was a good year.

?"To see what Rory's done, where he's set the bar for the young generation with four majors already and double digit worldwide victories, he's the one that has set the bar for us and for those in the next generation, the up-and-comers, around the world really. So he's the guy that we're chasing and he's the one, in order to beat him we're going to have to work harder than him and that's difficult, because he works extremely hard. That's the goal; that's the idea.''

Spieth, who is ranked 14th in the world, is grouped with Adam Scott and last week's Australian Masters champion Nick Cullen at 12.05pm in Thursday's first round.