PGA Tour

Spieth up for Waialae challenge

2017-01-12 07:13
Jordan Spieth (Getty)

Los Angeles - Jordan Spieth returns to Waialae Country Club in Honolulu for the USPGA Tour's Sony Open this week, aiming to build on a strong finish in last week's Tournament of Champions.

Spieth led the field in birdies at Kapalua on Maui. Although a few big numbers in the early rounds ultimately proved too much to overcome, he surged to a third-place finish with a final-round 65.

"We certainly had the firepower last week," Spieth said. "Just a couple of tough breaks and then a couple of bad swings.

"But we played well enough to win. I hit the ball well enough to win. Needed to make a few more putts, but been practicing hard the last two days here and feel like I've made some strides off of last week."

Spieth earned three worldwide victories in 2016 - including the Australian Open in November which was his first win since May.

But he couldn't recapture the remarkable form of 2015, when his five USPGA Tour victories included back-to-back majors at the Masters and US Open.

The 23-year-old Texan is hoping 2017 yields not only more victories, but more enjoyment of the game.

"I want to have a lot more fun," he said. "I want to smile more on the golf course. I want to just feel like I'm really enjoying the process of playing and living out my dream.

"Specifically, I want to win more than last year. Each year I want to win more than the year before."

Spieth said Waialae, where his only prior appearance was a missed cut in 2014, is a good fit for his game.

"I think it's a bit of carving the ball both directions," he said. "I think the smaller, trickier greens are better for me. Requires a little bit more touch around the greens and certainly putting.

"We like to think our way around the golf course a lot and miss it in the right location - excited about this being a bit more of a challenge on approach shots, and seeing what we've got."

Spieth will tee off on Thursday and Friday alongside his old junior rival and friend Justin Thomas, fresh off his victory in the Tournament of Champions.

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, second to Thomas at Kapalua last week to take his tally to four victories and two runner-up finishes in his last six starts, could also be in the mix, although in four prior starts at Waialae Matsuyama has missed the cut three times and finished tied for 78th.

Argentina's Fabian Gomez, who closed with an eight-under-par 62 last year then birdied the second playoff hole to win, is back to defend the title.

"The defending champion, it's no reason to have any extra pressure because Justin is playing or Jordan is playing," Gomez said. Instead he can bask in the good memories of his superb final round last year.

"Seven birdies in a row for the last round to win a tournament is something that you are probably going to remember for the rest of your life," he said.

Read more on:    jordan spieth  |  golf

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