American Jordan Spieth goes into the Open Championship at St Andrews on course to complete the calendar Grand Slam in the sport following his victories in the first two majors of the season, with success coming in the US Masters and the US Open. Those victories leave him needing just the Open Championship and US PGA Championship in order to firmly cast his name into the history
No male golfer has ever sealed all four majors in the same year in the modern era. The dream is always alive for the winner of the Masters and the Green Jacket at Augusta but that vision is normally quickly ended in a completely different test at the US Open just a couple of months later.
The closest any player has come to the Grand Slam was Tiger Woods, who incredibly did hold all four Majors at the same time between 2000 and 2001, but just not in the same season.
Woods started his run in the 2000 US Open where he dismantled the field by 15 shots at Pebble Beach. He was the only player to
finish under par and did so with a score of -12, with his nearest rival as far back as +3. Still to this day, that goes down as arguably the most dominant display by any golfer in a major championship.
A month later at St Andrews, Tiger was once again in one of those moods and lifted the Claret Jug following an eight-shot winning margin. That was the first of three victories in the Open where he firmly established himself to Europe as one of the best talents to ever grace a golf course.
The run continued at Valhalla in the PGA Championship that year where a play-off was required on that occasion for the then world number one to continue his streak. Woods got the better of fellow American Bob May to win the trophy after a third hole play-off.
Although Woods did miss out on the Masters in 2000, which would have given his the calendar Grand Slam, he gained some compensation by winning the Green Jacket in 2001. The American went round in a score of 272 which left him on -16, two shots ahead of David Duval in second place. It brought up his second win at Augusta, a golf course at which he has thrilled crowds for years.
Comparisons have already been made between Spieth, who is 6/1 at the time of writing with some bookmakers to win the Open, and Woods but the 21-year old has a long way to go in order to get anywhere near the kind of numbers his senior has notched up in his career so far.
Fortunately for Spieth, the field at St Andrews this year does exclude the world number one Rory McIlroy and features a Woods who is a shadow of a player who dominated the sport during the 2000s. The world number one is on the sidelines after injuring his ankle playing football earlier this month which has ruled him out of the Open Championship and possibly beyond.
It will be Spieth’s first visit to the Scottish golf course, however, it should fit his game perfectly. The Texas-born golfer is comfortable hitting the ball 300 yards plus off the tee and if conditions are fine throughout the four days, the greens are expected to be quick, which will play right into his hands.
What will be interesting to see is how Spieth handles the pressure of keeping alive the possibility of doing something no other golfer has done before. The 21-year-old ran away with the Masters in April in a scintillating display, while at the US
Open he held his nerve well in the closing holes to double his major tally for the year and his career.
Leaving the calendar Grand Slam aside for a moment, only five golfers have been able to win the four different majors in their careers. Woods did it style with a dominant run between 2000 and 2001. Jack Nicklaus is unsurprisingly on the list with his 18 majors, which is a tally yet to be beaten. Meanwhile, Gene Sarazen achieved the feat first in 1935, Ben Hogan completed the set in 1953, and Gary Player is the only non-American on the list.
European and PGA Tour events take place weekly throughout the calendar and the top players in the world strive to win as many as they can. However, when a golfer retires, their career is generally judged on how many Majors they finish with. Nicklaus is still seen as many people’s greatest player of all time as his 18 majors still looks to be safe with Woods stalling on 14. As great a player as Nicklaus was, it will be interesting to see if his label still stands if Spieth does go on to complete the calendar Grand Slam with victory in the Open and then at the US PGA Championship in August.