Nick Bonfield assesses Jordan Spieth's chances of winning the Career Grand Slam ahead of the USPGA Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina
Career Grand Slam Beckons For Jordan Spieth
In his fledgling career, Jordan Spieth has broken several records and installed himself as the modern era’s most likely threat to Jack Nicklaus’ Major Championship record and he could do it soon at the USPGA Championship.
Many feel Nicklaus’ tally is unmatchable and unassailable, and with good reason, but last month the Texan became the youngest golfer since the 18-time champion, and the second youngest ever, to complete three legs of the Career Grand Slam.
Realistically, given the strength in depth of the global game, the odds are very much against anyone getting even remotely close to Nicklaus, but At Quail Hollow, host of this year’s USPGA Championship, Spieth has the opportunity to do something truly historic.
In 2000, Tiger Woods won the US Open and the Open Championship become the youngest player to land the Career Grand Slam at the age of 24 years and six months. Indeed, only five golfers have won all four titles since the inauguration of The Masters in 1934: Nicklaus, Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
When Spieth tees off in North Carolina, he’ll be just 24 years and one month. If he goes on to succeed, he’ll become the youngest player to win the four different majors. In this era, that would be an absolutely absurd achievement.
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So what are Spieth’s chances of securing the Career Grand Slam at Quail Hollow? Happily, very good.
Spieth is having the best year of his career to date in terms of ball-striking statistics. He’s hitting it further then ever and his iron play has also improved considerably (he currently ranks first on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green).
Quail Hollow measures more than 7,600 yards from the tips, so missed greens will be commonplace. The good news is that Spieth ranks 20th in Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green and we all know how good he is with the flat-stick.
What’s more, there are several par 4s over the 490-yard mark, which means Spieth will be facing a lot of birdie putts from the 20-30ft mark – his absolute specialty. Remarkably, in 2015, he holed more than a quarter of his putts from 20-25ft.
All signs point to Spieth being in contention, at the very least. If he gets the job done (he’s currently second favourite behind Rory McIlroy, the king of Quail Hollow) it will be one of the game’s greatest ever achievements, and one that I simply can’t see being beaten in the future.