Jordan Spieth is living his dream. In the last 12 months, this 22-year old was busy establishing himself as the man to beat.
Having ended the 2014 season as ninth in the World rankings, this young sensation today holds the top spot following a hot streak that brought him opportunities to close out all four majors.
He won the Masters and the US Open, finished tied-fourth in the Open championship and settled as runner-up in the PGA Championship.
Last week, Spieth’s title-defence of the Australian Open left him tied second with Adam Scott, a stroke behind champion Matt Jones.
Like last year, Spieth has again travelled across different time zones to play the $3.5-million Hero World Challenge that has moved from Orlando to this holiday destination here.
As the defending champion, Spieth’s presence here lends further credence to this invitational event, hosted by Tiger Woods Foundation.
The field here has quality to seriously challenge Spieth, who tees off with debutant Anirban Lahiri, in his bid to claim the one-million-dollar winner’s share this weekend.
Spieth said he will be playing in “some of the coolest courses” and will be facing a tough challenge.
“This is a very easy week for us. I mean obviously with 18 guys and we’re travelling to some of the coolest courses to play. This has been kind of cap on the year, celebration of the year almost. But it’s still world ranking points, it’s still a nice purse and quality field that you need to really practice to try and beat.”
Wind will be a key factor
This young course at Albany here, however, turned out to be different than what Spieth expected. “I thought there would be ocean views, we are on an island. There’s nothing blocking the tee-shots. It’s very exposed to the wind. I would look for scores to be pretty low this week even if the breeze kicks up.”
Former World No. 1 Adam Scott, now ranked 10th, is hugely expected to do well here since this place happens to be the ‘second hometown’ for the Australian.
“I don’t know how much of an advantage I have this week. It can be very demanding but again, the best players in the world are here and what they do on a weekly basis is figure out how to play golf courses,” said the man who holds the course record of seven-under par 65.
Playing groups: (first round, prefix denotes world ranking): 5-Justin Rose (England)-10-Adam Scott (Australia); 23-J. B. Holmes (US)-13-Patrick Reed (US); 36-Billy Horschel (US)-41-Chris Kirk (US); 14-Hideki Matusyama (Japan)-25-Jimmy Walker (US); 4-Bubba Watson (US)-6-Rickie Fowler (US); 11-Zach Johnson (US)-43-Bill Hass (US); 39-Anirban Lahiri (India)-1-Jordan Spieth (US); 8-Dustin Johnson (US)-19-Matt Kucher (US); 24-Paul Casey (England)-17-Brooks Koepka (US).