After being named Rookie of the Year for the PGA tour in 2013, it was fair to expect big things out of Jordan Spieth. But his 2015 – unmatched since the days when Tiger Woods was at the peak of his powers (instead of the bottom of the leader boards) – has surpassed all expectations.
The “Year of Spieth” continued this Father’s Day, thanks to an ill-timed meltdown from Dustin Johnson. The “Great One’s” future son-in-law choked on a 12-foot eagle that would have won him the tournament outright and then whiffed a three-footer coming back to force an 18-hole playoff today. However shocking the ending, though, Spieth now owns the first two majors of the year after a wire-to-wire domination of the Masters.
When all the jokes at Johnson’s expense fall by the wayside, the focus will shift to just how far Spieth can take his run of victories.
No golfer has ever won all four majors in the same calendar year, but so far the kid from Texas has shown the poise of a man twice his age. It certainly is within the realm of possibility that he would be the first to achieve golf’s Grand Slam, but he’ll have to wrestle it away from a very competitive field.
The biggest threat to Spieth’s potential Slam should come from world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, the tour’s other young star who is missing only a win at Augusta to complete his own career Grand Slam. McIlroy is also the defending champ of both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship and will be eager to stay in the spotlight.
Rory reminded the field he is a constant threat, clawing back into the conversation at -2 on Sunday before finishing the U.S. Open at even-par.
The 2015 Open will be played at historic St. Andrews, which presents a challenge to the best of golfers on any day. Louis Oosthuizen won the last Open played at St. Andrews by seven strokes in 2010. He also put in a solid performance at Chambers Bay, bouncing back from a +7 opening round to tie for runner-up. He should be in Spieth’s peripheral vision in Scotland all weekend long.
Spieth should also expect challenges from Henrik Stenson, who has finished in top-three at the Open three times, along with Phil Mickelson, and a motivated Johnson.
If Spieth can somehow win a third major, the pressure will carry over to the year’s final slam at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. This isn’t the first time in recent history that the course has hosted the final major of the year. Back in 2010, Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson in a playoff. Spieth wasn’t on the tour back then, but his track record at the PGA isn’t good so far; he’s failed to even make the cut in his two previous attempts to date.
Spieth is currently second in the odds (to McIlroy) for both remaining majors, going off at 6/1 in each. If he can claim one more major this year, it would be a season for the ages. If he can claim both, this will go down in history as the greatest season by any golfer in history.
The odds say he can do it, but when you look at the field he’ll have to be beat, it’s hard to believe he’s worth backing exclusively for those majors.
With such a long, bright career ahead of him, Spieth should hit the career Grand Slam eventually, but it won’t be exclusively in 2015.
Jordan Spieth Grand Slam Odds:
Odds Spieth wins the Grand Slam this year: 50/1
Odds Spieth passes Tiger Woods as youngest to win a career Grand Slam (24 years old): 5/1
Odds Spieth eventually wins the career Grand Slam: 1/16
(Photo Credit: Erik Charlton [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)