The imminent return of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour is the “forefront of the excitement in golf” for 2018, according to Jordan Spieth.
The Open champion believes the combination of Woods’ return and the depth of young talent in the game worldwide makes it a “special” time to be involved in the sport.
Spieth is at Kapalua preparing for this week’s star-studded Sentry Tournament of Champions, where each of the world’s top five are in the 34-man field which is restricted to winners of PGA Tour events last season.
The 24-year-old, who also confirmed his recent engagement to long-time girlfriend Annie Verret, is looking forward to seeing how Woods fares against the current crop of talented youngsters following his encouraging comeback at the Hero World Challenge last month.
“I think with Tiger’s return realistically I can say based on what it does for ratings, what it does for maybe a non-golfer’s interest in golf, it’s got to be at the forefront of the excitement right now,” said Spieth.
“And with Tiger, we just don’t exactly know what it’s going to bring. But I think because of the way that the Hero went and the confidence that he’s talking with, the place that he’s at in life right now, I think he’s in the best position he’s been in in a few years to come back and be a regular out here competing.
“I think this year, 2018, the unknowns are very exciting right now, with the amount of depth and talent at a younger age mixed with the guys in their 30s. There are some phenomenal players that you would call maybe in prime, and then, obviously, the major question is what’s it’s going to be like with Tiger coming back?
“So the next six months is a pretty special time to be a part of professional golf. I feel that way. I’ll just set my goals like we do all the time and try and get out there and accomplish them year after year. And that’s when I sit here every single year, I’ve got my goals for the year that by this time that I’m certainly set out to tackle.
“But I think the overall view off the course, at least from my own and a lot of us younger players, is very exciting going into 2018.”
Spieth also believes his dramatic Open victory at Royal Birkdale “did wonders” for his confidence following a series of near-misses in the majors after his win at the 2015 US Open.
“I think the Open Championship just did wonders for me individually,” he added. “And not only my view of myself, but my view on being the man in the arena and being the one that’s out there, that’s putting it on the line every single week.
“I’m going to fail and learn and I’m going to succeed, but I’m the one in the arena and anytime I’m criticised, it’s that quote from Teddy Roosevelt, it’s like my favourite quote of all time.
“I wish I could recite the exact quote to you, but it’s the man that puts it on the line every day, that pretty much I should only care about myself putting it on the line every single day, recognising what’s going to come with it.
“And in sport, nobody’s perfect. You’re going to get criticised. It’s not the critic that matters, it’s the man that’s actually there risking everything, that’s going to fail, that’s going to learn and make adjustments.
“There are going to be critics and people that disagree with the way you do things or whatever, but I feel like I’m in a great place of who I am and what I’m doing going forward. And starting 2018 I’m kind of ready for anything. I’m ready for failure, for success, and everything in between.”
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