15 May 2023

Spieth to complete the slam?

After Rory McIlroy failed to enter the Grand Slam club following a woeful display at the Masters Tournament, all eyes now turn to Jordan Spieth who has the chance to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win all four of golf’s Majors with victory at this month’s PGA Championship.

At only 29 years old, Spieth has already enjoyed a Hall of Fame Career, winning 13 times on the PGA Tour and being part of a select group of golfers to have won three of the four Major Championships before the age of 24.

The first of those came at Augusta National in 2015 at the age of 21 when he shot a then-record-tying score of 18-under-par 270, before following it up with victory at the U.S. Open just two months later, becoming  the youngest player to win the tournament since 1923.

Two years later, the Texan showed true grit at The Open Championship as he battled back from a bad start to his final round to pip Matt Kuchar to the Claret Jug after an epic battle on the Southport links.

But Spieth is not resting on his laurels. He’s now focused on achieving the career Grand Slam, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since 2000 when Woods secure an eight-stroke triumph at the Old Course to wrap up all four Majors in the space of three years.

“I don’t think I talk about it [the career Grand Slam] much with other people,”  said Spieth.

“But it’s certainly at this point, given having won the other three, it’s an elephant in the room for me. It’s a goal of mine.

“If you just told me I was going to win one tournament the rest of my life, I’d say I want to win this one, given where things are at. If you told me that before my career started I was going to win one tournament ever, I’d say The Masters because that was my favorite tournament growing up.

“But things change, and that has obviously significant meaning. Long term it would be really cool to say that you captured the four biggest golf tournaments in the world that are played in different parts of the world and different styles, too. So you feel like you kind of accomplished golf when you win a career Grand Slam, I guess.

“I’ve come close a couple times. This hasn’t necessarily been my most successful Major.”

Spieth’s best finish at the PGA Championship came when he ended runner-up to Jason Day in 2015, the year he won his first two Major titles, with the former World No.1 only posting one top ten finish in his next six appearances at the event.

The PGA Championship is the only Major in which Spieth has never held a lead or been the co-leader after a single round. In comparison, he has led nine rounds at the Masters, five rounds at The Open, and three rounds at the U.S. Open. He hasn’t got off to great starts, either. He has been inside the top 20 through 18 holes just once in his PGA Championship career.

“The only real chance I had was Bethpage [2019, tied-third],” said Spieth. “But I remember that Saturday and Sunday and I don’t remember it feeling any different than any other Majors I’ve contended in, they all feel about the same after the first one.

“I think looking at it with long-term thinking, man, if I’m healthy, I’d look to have 20 chances at it, and maybe the bounces will go your way one of those weeks.”

If he is to complete the Grand Slam this month, Spieth will need a better showing than his last competitive start at Oak Hill Country Club in 2013.

Just one month after making headlines with a win at the John Deere Classic, where he became the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years at the age of 19, Spieth’s wheels came off the wagon at the PGA Championship after finishing on eight over par at the conclusion of the second round, missing the cut by five strokes.

It’s not an ideal memory to look back on when going for the Grand Slam, but it’s also worth remembering this was Spieth’s rookie year on Tour. A low point in a year that delivered the PGA Tour Rookie of the Season Award as well as finishing 10th on the then PGA Tour Money List.

This will be the seventh time he gets the opportunity at achieving one of the most coveted milestones in sport that the vast majority of players can only dream of. He’ll arrive in New York buoyed by recent results, safe in the knowledge that if he competes at that level once again he has a golden opportunity to cement his legend and legacy by accomplishing the historic feat.

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