I OWE THIS TO SYD­NEY

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - DAR­REN WAL­TON

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.

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