If you think the pursuit of the career Grand Slam is proving a poisoned chalice for Rory McIlroy, what about Jordan Spieth? This week at the US PGA Championship at Bethpage, he will have his own chance to complete the set at the indecently young age of 25.
It tells you everything about how far Spieth has fallen since the Holy Grail moved into view that even the idea he could claim the Wanamaker Trophy causes an embarrassed silence, and a quick change of subject.
At least with Rory, there seemed a realistic chance when he stepped on to the first tee at Augusta to try to complete his set at the Masters. With Spieth, the curse is so overwhelming it’s not just the week of the elusive major where he disappears from view — it’s every week.
How different it all was when he won the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017, leaving him with only one leg of the four Grand Slam titles to claim. With three majors to his name at just 23, and with that drive and that putting stroke, he appeared to have cemented his position as the natural American heir to Tiger Woods.
Who could have predicted back then that he would still be awaiting his next victory of any kind, almost two years later?
Yet even that startling fact only touches the surface of his decline. The last time Spieth was remotely in contention to win was at the Open at Carnoustie last year, when he was tied for the lead after three rounds, only to fall apart on the final day.
Since then, he hasn’t had a top-10 finish. Indeed, this year, he hasn’t finished in the top 20 anywhere in 11 tournaments.
What’s happened? In short, a familiar story. Not one of the longer hitters, Spieth always had to hole more than his fair share of putts to keep up, and the pressure told on his putting stroke to such an extent that, at one point, Woods’s old coach Hank Haney thought he was in danger of falling victim to the yips.
Never the straightest of drivers, Spieth got worse as he sought more length. This season, he’s outside the top 200, would you believe, in strokes gained in driving.
If you can’t drive and you’re not holing putts… no wonder Spieth has fallen all the way to 39th in the world rankings.
Now it’s Bethpage, a course set up for the bombers of the game. There will be no career Grand Slam this week, therefore, but let’s just hope for something good for the personable Texan that provides encouragement to build on for the summer.
Right now, the worry among some pretty knowledgeable judges is whether he will ever be able to find his way back.
Having won £1million after placing a £65,000 bet on Tiger Woods to win the Masters, highrolling Las Vegas gambler James Adducci has now stuck an £80,000 wager on Tiger to win the Grand Slam at 100-1.
‘I’m not interested in his odds for winning the US PGA , I’m really thinking Grand Slam this year, followed by the Masters next year to beat the record and win five majors in a row,’ said Adducci, who went on to reveal he doesn’t know much about golf — but then, that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?
File under proof, if needed, that some people really do have more money than sense.
I’ve written before about the Simpson Cup, the inspiring Ryder Cup-style competition between American and British soldiers whose lives were altered irrevocably by injuries suffered in the line of duty.
The eighth edition begins a week on Tuesday with America holding a 4-3 lead, and is notable on two counts.
Singles matches will be played over the world’s most famous course at St Andrews and GB are fielding the first female participant — former Platoon Commander Kate Surman, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 15 years in the armed forces.