Jordan Spieth

Jordan Eyes “Spieth Slam” as Open Favourite

As the Open Championship heads to the historic links of St Andrews this week, there is one man who will be eyeing a piece of history of his own.

American Jordan Spieth heads into the third major of the year hoping to add the Claret Jug to the green jacket he captured at Augusta in April and the US Open trophy he won in dramatic fashion last month at Chambers Bay.

If he manages to do so, he will be three quarters of the way to a historic grand slam, something that has not been achieved since 1930 and has never been achieved under the modern major configuration. 

With Rory McIlroy out injured, Spieth starts as tournament favourite at a general 6/1 price. 

Few could argue with that price, as Spieth’s recent form figures are truly outstanding. Since the Valspar Championship in March the young American has gone 1-2-2-1-11-17-MC-2-30-3-1-1.

So that’s four wins – including two majors – three seconds, a third and a couple of other top 20s.

Spieth becomes the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to have won at least 4 tournaments coming into the British Open. And guess what happened to Tiger in 2000? 

He only went and won it by 8 shots and broke the all-time St Andrews scoring record in the process.

Speith will not be short of confidence coming into this week, having just won a play-off at the John Deere classic on Sunday evening. That win included a career-best 61 in round three and a strong finish that saw the 21-year old come from three shots back with four holes to play.

The only man ever to have completed the grand slam, the legendary Bobby Jones – who managed the feat back in 1930 – also won at St Andrews on his way to glory. 

Back then the grand slam consisted of the US Open, US Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur and it was the British Amateur that Jones won at St Andrews. He was later granted the freedom of the city for his services to golf. He was also given a ticker-tape parade when he returned to New York (sounds like fun, why don’t they do those any more?!)

So the omens are good for Spieth, but what of his links record? 

Well he finished 36th last year at Hoylake and 44th the year before at Muirfield, so his links record is nothing to write home about, particularly compared to his other achievements.

However, it is easy to forget how young the Texan is and that he is breaking new ground all the time. Previous records count for little where Spieth is concerned and he will have no fears about this week.

There are some who have questioned Spieth’s build-up, playing in the John Deere Classic and thus giving him little preparation time before the Open. A late-night flight and tiredness to overcome will place him at a disadvantage to those who are already at the Old Course or those that played at nearby Gullane in the Scottish Open.

Spieth has only played the Old Course once and that was not in competition. The locals will tell you that it is the sort of course you need experience of to tackle successfully.

Certainly when Tiger triumphed in 2000, he came here much better prepared than Spieth is now, having played in the 1995 Open at St Andrews and playing links golf in the week before the 2000 Open.

But then if there’s one characteristic you need to take on the Old Course, then it is good lag putting to cope with the monster greens, and there are none better than the young American with the flat-stick.

So it will be fascinating to see how he copes with this week’s challenges, as he faces down the prospect of a place in history – on the back of less than ideal preparations.

Only time will tell how he fares…

 

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