After a red-hot 63 in the third round, Spieth positioned himself within three of 54-hole co-leaders Russell Knox and Kevin Kisner. Spieth opened the final round with bogey, and was never able to carry the momentum from Saturday into Sunday. Thanks to two birdies on the back nine, Spieth finished with 70, which was good enough for a tie for seventh and, more importantly, catapulted him back atop the world rankings.
''Everyone is pushing each other a little bit, and when that No. 1 ranking slips away, it leaves some unrest in you and you really want to get back at it,'' Spieth said.
All in all, an encouraging start to the season for Spieth, who earlier in the week revealed he didn't touch his clubs for two weeks between the Presidents Cup and the WGC-HSBC - the longest he'd gone without playing golf since he was 12 or 13.
The T-7 was Spieth's best finish in Shanghai, having placed T-35 in 2014 and 17th in 2013.