Jordan Spieth expecting strong response from Rory McIlroy

Jordan Spieth is under no illusion that Rory McIlroy will mount a strong challenge to regain the World No.1 spot in 2016, but the Texan is prepared to fight for the place he earned last year.

Spieth dethroned McIlroy through a combination of luck and a series of excellent performances on the greens, and he’s already targeted the Northern Irishman as the player he needs to watch closely this season.

McIlroy lost his World No.1 spot in August after injury put him out of action for nine weeks, which meant he missed the Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. During this time, however, rookie Spieth was notching up victories left and right; culminating with his win at the Tour Championship to seal the World No.1 spot and his maiden FedEx Cup title.

However, McIlroy did manage to find some form as he bounced back to win the European Tour season finale at the DP World Tour Championship and with it the Race to Dubai title.

"In a season that he (McIlroy) considered lost, he still came back and ended up winning the Race To Dubai and that proves what a player he is," the 22-year-old is quoted as saying by theTelegraph.

"I'm sure there are very few players who have been working harder than he is to make this season his best season yet – and that is scary. Hopefully, I can prevent that to an extent."

In terms of his own season, Spieth has three specific goals...and not all of them are simply personal glory.

"I would like to contend in a couple of majors on Sunday and I’d like to win at least one of them," he said.

"I'd also like to represent the United States in not only the Olympics but also the Ryder Cup. It would be great to get a couple of wins, not only for myself but for my country."

McIlroy and Spieth will come face to face at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship this week, with the duo likely to be paired for the opening two rounds.

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