Notebook: Spieth has dates with Australia's great courses

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

St. Simons Island, Ga.— Jordan Spieth knows how to mix business with pleasure. His business is playing great golf. His pleasure is playing great golf courses.

Spieth leaves this week for Australia, where he defends his title Nov. 26-29 in Sydney at the Australian Open. The first stop is Melbourne and a chance to play the fabled sand belt courses. He has games lined up at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath.

"I've heard Kingston Heath is unbelievable," Spieth said. "And then Royal Melbourne, I hear you get on the first tee and think, 'Piece of cake,' and then watch your tee shot bounce in the air. There and then Long Island, the courses there, are on my bucket lists of courses I haven't played yet."

Spieth surely has a long list. He's only 22 and just completed his third year as a pro.

What intrigues him about Melbourne's sand belt and Long Island (Shinnecock, National Golf Links) is "that style of golf was meant for that area."

He missed his chance at Long Island in August during The Barclays, although that was never the plan even before he missed the cut. He was supposed to play with Justin Thomas at Pine Valley the Monday after the tournament. When he missed the cut and had an extra day on his hand, Spieth chose to play Baltusrol with Rickie Fowler (who also missed the cut) to see it ahead of next year's PGA Championship, and then headed to Boston to work on his game.

Not to worry. That's an easy trip to plan.

After that?

"I've done pretty much everything I want to do," Spieth said. "I still haven't played Oakmont (next year's U.S. Open). We have Royal Troon coming up. I haven't played Carnoustie. But sought after? Sand Hills in Nebraska, the Coore-Crenshaw. I've heard it's supposed to be that good, from Crenshaw and everyone down there."

One area he failed to mention was Chicago Golf Club, one of the five founding courses of the USGA.

"Chicago Golf and Butler, I don't have as much of a desire. I heard they're great, and it will happen at some point," Spieth said. "But for a style of golf that is so unique to the area, that's what I'm looking for."

And that's what he's about to get in Melbourne.

Park vs. Ko

There are 71 players in the CME Group Tour Championship, though it's effectively a showdown between Inbee Park and Lydia Ko.

At stake? Just about everything.

Ko leads the money list by $188,321 at $2.75 million (first prize is $500,000) and has a narrow lead in the world ranking and player of the year. Park, coming off a win in Mexico, has a slim margin in the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.

This really could be winner-take-all in Naples, Fla.

Even if neither win, Park capturing either player of the year or the Vare Trophy would give her the 27 points needed for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Park then would be eligible next year by completing her 10th season on the LPGA Tour.

Meanwhile, Stacy Lewis can claim the $1 million bonus from the Race to the CME Globe if she wins. Park has two majors among her five wins, while Ko has one major among her five. Lewis has yet to win this year.

McIlroy clings to lead

Danny Willett needed to finish alone in 28th at the BMW Masters to lead the Race to Dubai, but a bogey on the 17th hole at Lake Malaren meant a three-way tie for 28th. Rory McIlroy is still in the lead, but just barely.

McIlroy, who has been atop the European Tour ranking since his tie for fourth in the Masters, leads by 1,613 points. That's not much considering the winner of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this week gets 1,333,330 points.

And it's not just a two-man race.

Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace could win the Race to Dubai with a victory. Byeong Hun An, who tied for third at the BMW Masters, also has a mathematical chance.

House hunting

Kevin Kisner is happy at home, living in a 1950s era house off the 17th fairway at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C.

He'll be living at Sea Island through at least the end of the year as the house gets expanded. They haven't had a garage, and now they have a family with an 18-month-old daughter.

"I told (wife) Brittany, 'Either find us a new place or find somewhere you want to move, a new house.' And she wanted to stay there," Kisner said.

Sea Island is a popular spot with several PGA Tour players, along with a sister-in-law who can help when Kisner is traveling. Kisner wouldn't rule out moving there at some point in his career, though he can see some disadvantages that have nothing to do with golf.

"My off-course activities are not good for that area, like hunting, being in the woods, getting away with people who don't play golf," he said. "It's all golf down there. All my buddies at home don't play golf professionally. They play recreationally, and they don't ask me about golf all day, which I like."


Tour Championship

Course: Tiburon Golf Club (6,540 yards, par 72), Naples, Fla.

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday

Purse: $2 million ($500,000 winner)

TV: Golf Channel — 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. ABC — 2-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Last year: Lydia Ko won the season-ending tournament, beating Carlota Ciganda with a par on the fourth hole of a playoff. Julieta Granada was eliminated on the second extra hole.


RSM Classic

Courses: Sea Island Resort, Seaside Course (7,005 yards, par 70), Plantation Course (7,058, par 72), St. Simons Island, Ga.

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday

Purse: $5.7 million ($1,026,000 winner)

TV: Golf Channel — 1-4 p.m., 7-10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

Last year: Robert Streb won his first PGA Tour title, beating Brendon de Jonge with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff. Will MacKenzie was eliminated on the first extra hole.