World No. 1 Jordan Spieth is gunning to join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as only the third non-local player to win back-to-back Australian Opens this week.
It was a year ago the American ignited a “dream” by winning in Sydney, and a week later claiming the Tiger Woods-hosted World Challenge. He went on to capture the opening two majors of 2015, along with two regular PGA Tour victories and the season-ending Tour Championship in a breakthrough season.
Spieth said he was thrilled to be back at The Australian Club, where a course-record 63 carried him to an impressive six-shot success last year over a field that included then world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.
Now he is seeking to become the first overseas player in nearly 40 years to lift the trophy twice in a row after Nicklaus completed his double in 1976.
“Anywhere you can go back and you have great memories can help you out and it just puts good vibes in going forward,” Spieth said. “So I am looking forward to trying to do the exact same thing as last year.”
Spieth said he’d like to go an another run like last year.
“It would be extremely special to win it again. This tournament means a great deal to me, especially after last year,’’ Spieth said. “It was a pivotal win for my confidence and the stretch of golf that followed. I’m definitely hoping to take momentum from my visit to Australia again this year.’’
In contrast to Spieth, Australia’s world No. 12 Adam Scott is seeking a first win since capturing the Colonial in 2014. But he said he was highly motivated to win on home turf with the “whole golf world” watching as Spieth defends his title.
“I am very fired-up to win the Australian Open this week,” said Scott, a former world No. 1 who finished fifth in Sydney last year.
“It’s important and it’s great that Jordan is here because the whole golf world will be watching this week, so he’s doing a huge favour for Aussie golf this week.”
Spieth will play the opening two rounds with 1997 Australian Open champion Lee Westwood, who is competing in the event for the first time since beating then world No. 1 Greg Norman in a four-hole playoff 18 years ago.
“It’s been a long time since I won that Australian Open and this also is the first time I’ve played in Sydney since my first Australian Open in 1994, so I am really looking forward to the week,” said the Englishman, another former world No. 1.
“And again, the organisers seem to have assembled a great field and it’s still a tournament that players want to win. You only have to see what winning the Australian Open in 2013 did for Rory McIlroy the following year, and then last year with Jordan (Spieth) winning, just look as his fabulous season this year.”
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