Aussie Open win boosts Spieth for new challenges

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ORLANDO: A confidence-boosting Australian Open triumph has given Jordan Spieth a chance to complete all his goals for the year by winning again this week at the Hero World Challenge.

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The 21-year-old American fired an eight-under par 63 Sunday to capture the Stonehaven Cup by six strokes, the first time in Spieth’s pro career that he has won comfortably enough to enjoy the moment over the final holes.

“Last week was really special,” Spieth said. “I wanted to soak in that feeling so I could hopefully duplicate it going forward. That was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played.

“I’m taking a lot of confidence going forward.”

Spieth, who won the 2013 John Deere Classic at age 19 to qualify for the PGA Tour, achieved a key goal for the year by contending for a major title, leading in the final round of the Masters before settling for a share of second behind Bubba Watson.

But winning Down Under gives Spieth a chance at another of his desires for 2014, multiple wins, by capturing the 18-player invitational event that opens Thursday at Isleworth.

“That was the one I was keeping to myself this year,” Spieth said. “That was tough with how many chances I had earlier this year.”

Spieth was runner-up at the Tournament of Champions in January, shared fouth at Pebble Beach and fifth at the WGC Match Play. And that was before his epic Augusta National run, becoming the youngest runner-up in Masters history, and a fourth at the Players Championship.

“Win this week, I would check every goal for the year,” Spieth said. “If I don’t it’s still an improvement on 2013 and that’s the main goal, get a little better every year.”

Spieth credited the Masters and Players for teaching him patience.

“Each time I lacked a little bit of patience,” Spieth said. “Sunday final round tied for the lead is a marathon still. I thought of it as a sprint.”

Spieth said he was able to handle the pressure of Greg Chalmers and Adam Scott making early birdies to cheers from Aussie fans better than before his stumble at the Masters.

“The first two holes were key — I didn’t care that they did it,” Spieth said. “We really kept our composure.”

And his effort in a losing US cause at the Ryder Cup in Scotland in September sparked the fire of emotion that had been lacking in his game.

“The Ryder Cup brought that back,” Spieth said. “The Masters and the Ryder Cup were the most valuable I’ve ever had. The Masters was the greatest individual tournament that I’ve ever played.”

Spieth, who began his 2014-15 season in China at a WGC event, looks forward to more global trips in his future.

“I do see myself travelling more and more,” he said. “I enjoy travelling the world. In Australia, the atmosphere, the way they love the golf there, is incredible.”

AFP

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