When it comes to Grand Slam attempts on this island, one could be forgiven for only thinking about Rory McIlroy and forgetting about the prospects of Jordan Spieth beating the Northern Irishman into the most exclusive club in golf.
McIlroy finished runner-up at Augusta last month in his latest attempt to complete the full set and this week the spotlight turns to Spieth who only needs to add the PGA Championship title to his trophy cabinet in order to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in golf’s Grand Slam club.
Like McIlroy, Spieth has come close to completing the set, most notably in 2015 when he finished second behind Jason Day at the PGA in a year that saw the Texan collect the Masters and the US Open while finishing one shot outside the playoff at St. Andrews in The Open.
As far as story-lines go ahead of Thursday’s opening round in Tulsa, an in-form Spieth should be it, but just like McIlroy’s latest Grand Slam bid took a back seat in the media room at Augusta courtesy of Woods’ miraculous comeback, Tiger’s progress six weeks on from Augusta is set to dominant the headlines once more.
Throw the mystery behind the absence of defending champion Phil Mickelson into the mix and dare we say Spieth might be coming in under the radar off the back of a victory at the RBC Heritage last month and a most recent run at the Byron Nelson where he eventually finished second behind KH Lee.
According to Spieth himself, this week at Southern Hills might just prove his best chance yet of joining the most exclusive club in golf.
“I think on paper, yes, just given grass types, winds are more similar to what I’m used to at home, and it’s about as close to home as we get for a PGA, at least until we go to Frisco,” Spieth said earlier this year.
“It’ll be by far the closest PGA I’ve played to home, and the best chances I’ve had are when courses are played with wind and firmer conditions at PGA Championships. I remember the course being way too big for me at 14 years old. Hopefully I feel a little differently going back.”
Southern Hills remains a big test of golf with the par-70 stretched to 7,556 yards and featuring just two par fives measuring 656 and 632 yards respectively. With temperatures in the 30s Celsius early this week and the wind forecast to blow, expect a firm and fast layout that should play to Spieth’s strengths in what looks a wide open second men’s Major of the season.
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