NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas: World No.1 Jordan Spieth defends his title at this week’s Hero World Challenge on a new course but 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 arrives 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 recalls 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?’” Scott said. “You near 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, Spieth 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,” Spieth said. “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’s 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,” Scott said. “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.”
Scott 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.
Spieth is joined by India’s Anibar Lahiri.