I OWE THIS TO SYDNEY
SYDNEY- bound Jordan Spieth credits his special affinity with Australia for helping to propel him towards golf immortality.
Spieth is potentially three weeks away from becoming the youngest player in history to win all four major championships after yesterday adding the British Open to his 2015 Masters and US Open victories.
The Texan collected his first two majors months after breaking a 16- month title drought at the Australian Open and is now drinking from the Claret Jug after hoisting the Stonehaven Cup for a second time last November.
Spieth will return to Sydney for a fourth straight year in November to defend his Open crown at The Australian Golf Club.
The world No. 3 is adamant his relaxing but competitive annual sojourns to Australia help set up his entire season.
“I do kick back there. I’m very excited to go back,” Spieth said after his thrilling three- stroke comeback win at Royal Birkdale. “Anytime you can close a tournament, it helps going forward.”
Spieth held his nerve to drain a fourmetre putt to upstage Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall in a three- way playoff at Royal Sydney last year and says he recalled that clutch moment as he faced adversity down the stretch yesterday.
“The more you do it, the more scenarios you’ve gone through, and so the more you’re prepared for it and that helps,” he said.
“Last year I wasn’t putting great and made a big putt on 16 ( at Royal Sydney), and then a nice par putt on 17. And then I went in the playoff, after I couldn’t make anything all day, similar to today.
“And I thought that was important to look back on and think I didn’t have my best putting stuff but I was still able to close the deal and I’ve taken that into this year.”
Spieth denied fellow American Matt Kuchar with a final- round 69 that featured an eagle and three birdies in four holes after he had relinquished his three- shot overnight lead in wild fashion on the 13th.
He sliced his tee shot 50m right into thick grass on a sand dune so steep he could hardly stand up. He accepted a penalty for an unplayable lie before hitting his next shot from the practice driving range.
The scene inevitably evoked memories of last year’s spectacular Masters meltdown when Spieth threw away the green jacket with a quadruple seven after popping two shots into the water on Amen Corner’s famous par- three 12th.
Unlike Augusta, Spieth rallied to knock a blind three iron over the dune to short of the green, chipped up and holed a clutch 2m putt for a miraculous bogey.
Kuchar made par to assume a one- shot lead but it was Spieth who felt all the momentum.
Spieth, 23, almost aced the par- three 14th, made eagle on the par- five 15th and birdies on 16 and 17 to leave his playing partner and Ryder Cup teammate shellshocked after a three- shot swing.
With a par at the last, Spieth secured a three- stroke victory, his 12- under- par 268 leaving him heading to next month’s US PGA Championship bidding to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan as only the sixth player to win all four majors.
Spieth is now alongside Nicklaus as only the second man to win three majors before turning 24. If he wins the US PGA Championship from August 10- 13, Spieth will eclipse Tiger Woods as the youngest player in history to win all four majors.