Akron, Ohio — Jordan Speith is not feeling the pressure of his upcoming chance to complete the career grand slam at the 99th U.S. PGA Championship next week.
Should he win, he wins and joins legends but if not then he has plenty more attempts at the tender age of 24, welcome to the world of the Champion Golfer of the Year, Jordan Spieth.
Spieth is feeling rejuvenated and confident ahead of this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he is in the driver’s seat to join Vijay Singh, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods as the only golfers this century to win three or more consecutive events.
The pressure is on for the world number three, should he be captivated by the challenge Quail Hollow presents as the final piece of the major puzzle, joining current strugglers Rory McIlroy (The Masters) and Phil Mickelson (U.S. Open) on their quest to complete the career grand slam.
But the timing of his chances couldn’t be better, with six top-10s this season on tour and an early win at Pebble Beach, coming off the back of two victories at the Travelers Champ and The 146th Open, at Royal Birkdale.
Add Spieth’s latest major victory to his others from 2015, the Masters and U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, and he can match the feats of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen as the only players who have won all four major titles.
I think I’m in form:
Spieth remarked on his chances and feelings surrounding his extraordinary position:
“You believe you’re in form. I think I’m in form, and form is a huge part of being in contention obviously,” Spieth stated on Tuesday at Firestone Country Club. “But when you feel that way going in, it feels that much easier to get into contention.”
“I’m not really finding any negatives in this. It’s just a major. I say that they are still the four events that we try to peak and think most about at the beginning of every year.”
But this PGA, if I’m healthy and playing well, I play in 30 of them, I believe I’ll have plenty of chances to win them, but it doesn’t have to be this year.
An 11-time winner on the PGA Tour, he touched on his mindset for next week. “If it’s this year and it happens, that’s great, that’s another life-long goal that we’ve then achieved. But I believe that I’ll do it someday, so if it happens in two weeks or next week, then fantastic, and if it doesn’t, then it’s not going to be a big-time bummer whatsoever because I know I have plenty of opportunities.”
His hurdles to overcome?
What makes it more difficult than just saying it’s another major is that it’s one a year now instead of four a year that that focuses on, if that’s what the focus is, but my focus isn’t on completing the career Grand Slam. My focus is on this, the PGA Championship.
Spieth is no stranger to this immense pressure placed on his shoulders, something he felt when he traveled to the Old Course on a high, back in 2015, in an attempt to win the calendar year grand slam.
Braving the conditions to be only the fourth player since 1960 with a go at it, Tiger Woods in 2002 being the most recent to attempt it, in the 131st Open Championship at Muirfield.
“There was no care in the world,” Spieth said of St Andrews, “I felt free.”
If it doesn’t go well, it doesn’t go well. I’ve accomplished more than I could imagine this year. I’ve exceeded my goals for the year by far.
“That’s how I feel right now. I feel like I’m free-rolling now. Not that I shouldn’t have before, but after Pebble and before Hartford (His 2017 victories), I feel like I’m playing well enough and should be having better results for more chances to win, and I get off to two good starts in tournaments and been able to close them out.”
Jordan Spieth was the first wire-to-wire champion of The Open since Rory McIlroy at Hoylake in 2014. Birkdale was a gutsy performance from the three-time major champion, winning on both sides of the pond in consecutive weeks.
In four career starts at the U.S. PGA Championship Spieth’s best finish is T2, at Whistling Straits where Jason Day dominated, alongside two missed cuts in ’13, ’14 and T13 last year.
Rekindling some of the best golf of his life, Jordan Spieth is swinging free, feeling positive, picking up wins and most importantly believes he’s in form.