Jordan Spieth has a way of hanging around, even when he’s not at his best. His peers say the most admirable — and, to them probably, annoying — trait is his way of turning in scores better than how he played. He did that again on Sunday at the Emirates Australian Open, and it was good enough to get him into a three-way playoff for his second Aussie Open title in three years. [restrict]
Then he won the thing.
Spieth beat Aussies Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall with a birdie on the first playoff hole, earning the win after finishing regulation at 12-under 276 at Royal Sydney Golf Club.
The 23-year-old didn’t look in good shape to find the playoff with three to play. However, he sank a 30-foot bomb on the 16th hole for birdie, then made back-to-back pars from difficult situations to post 12 under. Meanwhile, Geoff Ogilvy double-bogeyed the 16th himself to fall out of position to win, leaving Hall and Smith to fend off Spieth for the Aussie cause.
In the playoff, Spieth left a 12-footer for birdie and the win. Before the putt he thought to the chance he had last year on the 72nd hole to catch eventual winner Matt Jones.
“I had a chance last year on 18 and didn’t hit a great putt, and this time I had that same chance with a very similar putt in the playoff and capitalized, so drew back a little on that and said, ‘This is our time to close this one out,” he said.
The two-time major winner has one more start this season, at the Hero World Challenge in December, but Spieth now has three worldwide wins on the year. This one could, perhaps, be as important as the Colonial win after the Masters meltdown. Spieth hopes being tested without his best stuff could have a similar springboard effect as the 2014 win did — to multiple majors and a FedEx Cup.
“The way we played the playoff, I think it’s going to do wonders for me,” he said. “I’ve been in a bit of a stall hitting the shots when they mattered. To hit those two shots in there right where I wanted to hit them and then to make the putt with it, is really big going forward and it’s something I can draw on all next year.” [/restrict]