• Spieth ‘very far away’ from top of golf’s world ranking

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    SYDNEY: Rising star Jordan Spieth obliterated world number one Rory McIlroy by 15 strokes in his runaway Australian Open triumph, but says he is “very far away” from becoming the top-ranked player.

    The 21-year-old Texan blitzed the field with a sizzling course record eight-under-par 63 to win the tournament on Sunday by six shots at 13-under 271.

    Defending champion McIlroy, who beat world number three Adam Scott with a birdie at the final hole last year, wrestled with the course and the windy conditions and finished joint 15th at two-over 286.

    It was an amazing performance from the young American, and left McIlroy and Scott flailing in his wake.

    Spieth was runner-up at the US Masters last April behind fellow American Bubba Watson, narrowly missing out on being the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

    But he said he was a long way from challenging for the world number one ranking, even though he was expected to climb to 11 from 14 after his Australian triumph.

    “I think I’m very far away. This week was big because I was able to close it out,” he said.

    “I felt the pressure, I felt the nerves and performed the best I’ve ever performed and there’s a big difference from playing great at Augusta and coming up just short and closing out a tournament.

    “It just feels completely different. Even though that week was one of the most memorable of my golfing career it still wasn’t a win and it still wasn’t the same feeling that it was this week walking down the 18th fairway,” he added.

    “In order to do this in majors it’s going to take a lot more than it took this week.

    “I still believe I am far away because I believe I have to win a major or two in order to significantly progress to that goal of being world number one and so now I look to April (Augusta Masters).”

    McIlroy’s resurgence kicked off at the Australian Open last year, when he edged Scott for his first tournament win of 2013.

    The Northern Irishman went on to win two majors (the British Open and the US PGA Championship), a World Golf Championship title (WGC-Bridgestone) and the flagship event of the European Tour (BMW PGA Championship) to finish this season at the summit of the world rankings.

    “I take a lot of confidence from that knowing that this course was challenging for everybody, including world number one and number three,” Spieth said.

    “Hall of Famers, that’s what I think when I look at this (Stonehaven Cup), you just see those names on this trophy and you don’t see that on every trophy and it’s real cool that my name will go on here.

    “This is the peak of where I’ve ever been as a golfer and it’s really cool and hopefully I can work some more to climb some more peaks.

    “If I had the follow-up year that Rory had this year then I would be pleased next year.”

    Spieth said he would “certainly” be coming back to defend his Australian crown at the same course in 2015.

    It was a torrid time for McIlroy as his title defence crumbled around him.

    “It’s been tough all weekend, but going out there, I was trying to get something going but with the pin positions and the wind, it was just very hard to get the ball close to the hole,” he said.

    “Anything under par would have been a good score. I just really couldn’t get anything going.

    “I hit a few loose shots again but yeah, just wasn’t meant to be this year.”

    AFP

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