Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Jordan Spieth  (Getty Images)
Jordan Spieth (Getty Images)

Jordan Spieth is looking forward to getting out on the course at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship after years of watching the event on television.

The World Number One is making his first European Tour appearance outside of the Major Championships and World Golf Championships at an event he knows well despite having never played in it.

The American revealed he has watched the contest from afar in recent years and, ahead of teeing it up with Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler on Thursday morning, he is excited by the challenge posed by Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

"This is an event I've actually watched," he said. "Considering I haven't played this week in the past few years, I've actually watched a considerable amount of this tournament on TV. So it's cool to play holes that you've watched these other guys play, at a place like Abu Dhabi this year, it's very hard to beat.

This is not only one of the biggest events of the year field-wise, it's one of the largest European Tour events, one of the strongest fields of the year. And it really kick starts kind of a world tour of 2016 - Jordan Spieth

"And Rickie has talked to me for over a year now about this event, and that certainly had some influence, as well."

Last year was an incredible one for Spieth as he moved to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking with help from victories at the Masters Tournament, the US Open Championship and in the FedEx Cup on the US PGA Tour.

The new year brings with it new challenges with a Ryder Cup at Hazeltine and, for the first time, golf takes its place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Open Championship, the US PGA Championship and the Olympics all take place in a one-month period from the middle of July and Spieth admits he will have to juggle his schedule to keep fresh.

"I'm looking into late spring, looking at events, looking at potential breaks to try to almost reset and get ready, because once we hit the US Open, it's just absolutely crazy through to The Ryder Cup," he said.

"So if I continue the pace I've been going at, I doubt I'll have strength then. So I'm going to need to make some adjustments. I'm not sure where they will be yet, but we are looking into it."

That was a sentiment echoed by McIlroy, who added: "From basically the US Open until The Ryder Cup, it's week on, week off, week on, week off, week on, week off, and you've got the FedEx Cup and The Ryder Cup after that.

"So I'd say it will be a fairly quiet October in golf at the highest level. I think a lot of guys will take some time off after that."

McIlroy also insisted that a fifth Major Championship is more important to him in 2016 than Olympic glory but Spieth is intrigued to see just what impact being part of the world's biggest sporting event will have on golf.

"It will be, I think, unsure for ten to 20 years how significant a gold medal will be in golf," he said.

"I look at them equally now but it's very early to tell how they will end up comparing to Major Championships in the future. But if I had not won a Major, I would probably still say a Major. At this point I would argue that a gold medal would be very, very special."

One event that Spieth is certain of the importance of is The Ryder Cup as Europe go for a fourth win in a row against their American counterparts.

The 22 year old made his debut at Gleneagles where he won two and a half points in tandem with Patrick Reed before Graeme McDowell mounted a brilliant comeback to beat him in the singles.

And he is putting helping the United States avenge that defeat right at the top of his to-do list for 2016.

"It's a huge goal this year for me and possibly at the very top of the list to try and get that win as a team," he said.

"We are tired of hearing about changes that need to be made. We are tired of hearing about the past. And we're ready to believe in a younger, more hungry team going forward.

"It looks like it's going to be a younger average-age team than what we've had. There's less scar tissue there. Rickie (Fowler) has been on I think two losing teams. I've been on one. You've got guys like Brooks (Koepka) and Justin (Thomas) and Patrick (Reed), a number of guys who are young, fiery, have good success in different team environments going back to their amateur and junior days.

"It's a different animal in the Ryder Cup, but we have a lot of momentum at this very point in time right now. It's still a long way until Hazeltine, but if we can continue what we've been doing over this past year in young American golf, we're going to go in and get in that team room and be pretty excited about who is next to us."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FOWLER, RickieUSA18-16
2PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-15
T3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-14
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-14
T5SIEM, MarcelGER18-11
T5SPIETH, JordanUSA18-11

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