SOUTHPORT—Jordan Spieth will go into the US PGA Championship next month looking to join an elite club and complete the career Grand Slam after his memorable British Open triumph on Sunday.
Spieth’s dramatic victory on the links at Royal Birkdale in north-west England saw him add the Open’s famous Claret Jug to the Masters green jacket he won at Augusta in 2015 and his US Open title the same year.
The Texan has now emulated the great Jack Nicklaus in winning three different majors before the age of 24—his 24th birthday is this coming Thursday.
At the moment Nicklaus is one of just five players to have claimed all four majors, but Spieth can join that elite group by winning the PGA at Quail Hollow in North Carolina starting on August 10—and would be the youngest to get there.
“It’s incredible. It’s a life goal of mine. It’s a career goal. Growing up playing golf, I just wanted to be able to play in major championships and compete with the best in the world, and things have happened very quickly,” said Spieth on Sunday.
He survived a major wobble in the last round at Birkdale to end on 12 under par and beat compatriot Matt Kuchar by three shots.
He was already the fourth-youngest man to capture two majors with his 2015 double, having previously become the youngest winner on the PGA Tour in over 80 years at the John Deere Classic in 2013.
Adding to his achievements, Spieth warmed up for Birkdale with a victory at the Travelers Championship last month which allowed him to match Tiger Woods in reaching double digits for tour wins by such a young age.
“It’s good and bad, because a lot comes with it. And a lot more attention, versus just being able to kind of go about your own thing. And I never realised how underrated that was.”
– Praise from Nicklaus –
Along with Nicklaus, the other players to have completed the career Grand Slam are Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen. But Spieth is not a fan of comparisons between him and the greats of the sport.
“I feel blessed to be able to play the game I love, but I don’t compare myself. And I don’t think that they’re appropriate or necessary.
“To be in that company, no doubt is absolutely incredible. And I certainly appreciate it. And we work really hard to have that, with that being the goal,” said Spieth after becoming the youngest British Open champion since a 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros won at Royal Lytham in 1979.
“But I’m very careful as to what that means going forward because what those guys have done has transcended the sport.
“And in no way, shape or form do I think I’m anywhere near that, whatsoever. So it’s a good start, but there is a long way to go.”
Spieth showed great nerve on Sunday after quickly frittering away a three-stroke overnight advantage and then almost blowing it completely on the back nine.
A wayward tee shot on the 13th forced him to take a drop and play his third from an adjacent practice ground. He escaped with a bogey to sit just one stroke behind Kuchar before three birdies and an eagle in the next four holes sealed the deal.
It was a remarkable show of guts, all the more so with memories still fresh of his collapse at the 2016 Masters, when he blew a five-stroke lead on the back nine on the last day.
His victory, and the manner of it, drew praise from Nicklaus.
“He’s won 11 tournaments and I had won eight before 24,” Nicklaus, now 77, wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“If you look at his victory total, his win today and the way he won, Jordan has shown an amazing display of maturity for someone so young, and he has been doing that for a quite a while.”