Scott sees Spieth on fast track toward World No. 1
PINEHURST, N.C. – Like everyone else in the field at this week's Martin Kaymer Invitational, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth were left muttering praise for the leader after 36 holes. Scott, ever the diplomat, said that when you're playing like Kaymer you just want to keep playing and never stop. Spieth admired how Kaymer was hitting the ball in all the right spots and making all the important putts.
What else was there to say? Like everyone else in the field, they were in the right lane on the Autobahn and Kaymer had blown past them in a speeding Mercedes after shooting 65-65.
Scott and Spieth were paired together Saturday, placing the man who became the World No. 1 last month alongside a man who many people think can become No.1 in the future.
After starting Saturday at even par, Scott shot 73 and fell into a tie for 16th, but he didn't hide is admiration for Spieth on Saturday evening.
"I just think he's awesome," Scott said. "I've played with him a few times now and I think he's awesome."
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Open (Saturday)
Check out photos from Saturday's third round of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
It's high praise from a man who was widely regarded as an up-and-coming rival for Tiger Woods a decade ago. The question today, however, is whether Spieth is awesome enough to someday climb to the top of the rankings, even though it's an unfair question to ask about someone who is only 20.
"He should be thinking of that soon," said Scott, who is now 33. "It looks like he's at the peak of the game already, so he should be doing that now. He's got it all happening right now to go to the top."
A bogey-bogey finish for 72 on Saturday probably didn't leave Spieth feeling like he was at the peak of the game. He will start the final round tied for 10th. When he was told of Scott's assessment of his future, he returned the respect.
"Growing up, my favorite player to watch was Adam Scott," he said. "He's a great guy and I know he's rooted for me."
Aesthetically, Adam Scott has a swing that Eric Alpenfels, director of Pinehurst Golf Academy, said is virtually flawless. Spieth also admires every aspect of Scott's swing and his game.
"He was a little off today, but I've seen him when he is on, and when he is on it's just straight balls wherever he wants to hit it and he takes dead aim," Spieth said. "Around the greens he plays smart shots and has great touch. More importantly, from inside 6 feet he really doesn't miss very many putts at all."
Spieth has dreamed of being the No. 1 player in the world since he was 15 and thinks about attaining that goal every day. That's why he immediately went to the range after signing his card Saturday and worked on some aspects of his set up and swing that had let him down. He was very aware that through three rounds he is 4 over on the last four holes, and that if he could have found a way to finish his rounds strong, he might be in a position to win his first major.
"I've played alongside Tiger earlier in the year when he was No. 1 in the world and I played with Rory when he was No. 1 in the world," Spieth said. "I've gotten to experience that, which is pretty cool, and to see how they handle things and also how hard they have worked off the course to get to that position. I'm going to have to work that hard, or maybe harder, to get there."
There are only nine spots on the computer rankings that separate Jordan Spieth, who is ranked 10th, and Adam Scott. The recently-married Scott concedes that doesn't know Spieth too well socially, but guesses that he's making the right choices outside the ropes.
"You have to balance so many things, but he must be doing a good job at the moment," said Scott. "Things change all the time and he's going to have to make good decisions and keep everything going his way."
Things haven't gone either Scott or Spieth's way this week, but they're not alone. Pinehurst and Kaymer, a former World No. 1, have conspired to make a lot of top players look like also-rans.
No one expects either player to look like that after this week.