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Golf: Spieth fires ace on eve of Presidents Cup debut

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Jordan Spieth, a 20-year-old showing no sign of nerves on the eve of his United States debut, fired a hole-in-one Wednesday in his final Presidents Cup practice round.

Spieth, a captain's choice selection for the matches against the Internationals at Muirfield Village, aced the par-3 12th hole from 173 yards with a 7-iron.

"A smooth 7 into a little breeze, started at the flag and never left it," Spieth said. "It took a little while to trickle in. All of a sudden everybody's arms went up."

After clearing the largest lake on the course and finding the bottom of the cup, Spieth was congratulated by teammates on the tee, exchanging high-five hand slaps with Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and world number one Tiger Woods.

"He has earned his way on here and he has played exceptional golf," Woods said. "His talent is going to take him a long way over the years."

US assistant captain Davis Love had just walked to the 12th green to see Spieth's shot.

"He's mature beyond his years and playing great," said Love. "It wasn't like a little kid made a hole-in-one out there. He's tipping his cap and he is excited and let's go play the next hole. Nothing fazes him."

Woods and Kuchar won the best-ball practice round over Spieth, the youngest-ever US Presidents Cup player, and Stricker, who at 46 is the oldest on this year's squad.

"They wound up beating us but what better preperation than playing two of the best players in the world," Spieth said.

Spieth and Stricker will face South African Ernie Els, a four-time major winner, and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge in Thursday's opening four-ball matches.

"You see like an eerie, steel guy and that's why we really put him with Stricker," US captain Fred Couples said. "They both remind me of the same player."

In July, Spieth won the John Deere Classic to secure a berth on this year's US PGA Tour. At 19, he was the youngest winner of a US PGA event since Ralph Guldahl at the 1931 Santa Monica Open.

"He's a star in the making. This kid is unbelievable," said teammate Brandt Snedeker. "He's got that wow factor. He seems to do the unbelievable. Pretty awesome. He's really quiet and goes about his business but he's a fun guy to be around."

"He's comfortable out here," said US teammate Keegan Bradley. "And he's not afraid of the big moment, which is important."

Spieth, ranked 21st, is making the most of his chance to share a locker room with some of the world's best players.

"It's everything and more than I could have expected," he said. "To learn from the best players in the world, it's a great feeling."

Spieth says Stricker's consistent play will allow him to be more aggressive.

"It's a good partnership," Spieth said. "He's so consistent it frees me up to go for my shots. We're able to feed off each other.

"He's going to be a mentor figure for me. He's going to be very positive and very consistent."

Stricker could also act as a calming influence in an emotional moment.

"I don't think I'm overwhelmed," Spieth said. "There's obviously going to be more emotion riding on this event than Ihave ever had, good and bad. It's about limiting the bad and Steve is going to be a boost in getting it over quicker.

"I'm so excited to get going. I'm antsy. I'm nervous, very fired up. To have people chant U-S-A gives me chills. I think bringing that kind of new firepower, new emotion, maybe will help."

It helps five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who made his US Presidents Cup debut in 1994 when Spieth was 14 months old.

"It's fun playing with him and seeing the shots he hits," said Mickelson. "His game is so far past where I was at 20. They level of consistency he has week in and week out is really impressive."

Spieth has stayed humble in the face of high praise from today's golf legends.

"It's inspirational for me," Spieth said. "At the same time, when I see some of the shots they hit, it's very humbling. I'm not satisfied at all., You need to strive to do some of the things they do."

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