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Young Spieth gets major champions mixed up at Pinehurst

By Andrew Both

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth is so young that he cannot remember who won the U.S. Open when it most recently was held at Pinehurst No. 2.

The 20-year-old American was asked on Monday whether he had any memories of watching previous Pinehurst U.S. Opens on TV.

"I don't. I was five when Payne Stewart won here (in 1999)," Spieth told reporters ahead of the June 12-15 U.S. Open. "And when Shaun Micheel won, I vaguely remember watching the back nine on Sunday."

It must have been very vague, because New Zealander Michael Campbell who won the 2005 U.S. Open here. American Micheel, on the other hand, won the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York.

Not that you can really blame Spieth for failing to recall who triumphed here nine years ago. After all, he was only 11 at the time.

It is less than a year since the Texan stamped his presence on the PGA Tour by winning the John Deere Classic, but he is now such a regular presence on leaderboards that it's easy to forget that he has only been a pro for less than two years.

World number 10 Spieth is getting ready to contest his third U.S. Open but, obviously, his first at Pinehurst.

He hopes lessons learned from near-misses at the Masters in April and the Players Championship last month will propel him to the top spot here.

"It was going to take a while to get over Augusta," he said of his tie for second at the first major of the year. "It was stinging at the time (and the Players Championship), that was a little stinger again.

"That's all behind me. I've gotten what I think I needed to learn from those experiences and I will put that into account if I can work my way into contention here."

Spieth, however, did not specifically spell out what he thinks he learned from his close calls, though he alluded to patience and comfort level.

"Just certain things on the course," he continued. "Out here it's going to be even more difficult to stay patient.

"This is the hardest tournament in the world to be patient in, so to answer your question, I believe I can win.

"I feel comfortable on this course and now I do have a little experience, that's only going to help me.

"I feel like I will be able to close this one out, if I get an opportunity."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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