He's got the first two legs of the Grand Slam. Yet, perhaps because he's been on vacation, there has been too little chatter about where this feat puts Jordan Spieth's year headed into St. Andrews.
Five before him have technically had a "chance" to win the modern Grand Slam of golf, only three men legitimately had a shot. As Victor Mather presented the Grand Slam story a week ago in the New York Times, Ben Hogan's opportunities in 1951 and 1953 were compromised by scheduling.
That leaves Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Tiger Woods in 2002 and now Jordan Spieth in 2015 with a chance to win the Grand Slam after winning the first two modern majors.
Pretty heady company.
In 1951, Ben Hogan took the first two majors. But he would have faced a significant hurdle for a Grand Slam: The British Open started a day after the P.G.A. ended. After sustaining terrible injuries in a car crash in 1949, Hogan played a light schedule, and in the end he elected not to compete in the last two majors.
In 1953, after once again winning the Masters and the U.S. Open, he did travel to Scotland to play in the only British Open of his career. He won, but once again could not play in the P.G.A. because the events overlapped. That was the only time a Masters and U.S. Open winner also won the British Open. It was Hogan’s ninth, and final, major victory.
Though the victory was front-page news, there was not much hand-wringing over his missing the P.G.A.; the modern concept of the Grand Slam would not solidify in the public’s mind until the early 1960s.
Arnold Palmer, who often spoke about his desire to win the Grand Slam, won the first two legs in 1960. He came close in the British Open that year, losing to Kel Nagle by a stroke.
Jack Nicklaus’s turn came in 1972. Like Palmer, he missed a British Open win by a stroke, losing to Lee Trevino.
After Palmer and Nicklaus, it took 30 years and the emergence of another of the game’s greatest golfers to get another Masters-U.S. Open winner. In 2002, Tiger Woods won his seventh and eighth majors and went into the British Open alive for the Slam. But he shot an 81 on Saturday in terrible conditions, and wound up tied for 28th.
As for the "other" Grand Slam won by Bobby Jones in 1930, he kicked it off with a 7&6 win at The Old Course over the vaunted Roger Wethered.
The highlights show him hitting quite the miraculous Road bunker recovery...
**For those in the If-Tony-Lema-Can-Show-Up-At-St.-Andrews-sight-unseen-then-Jordan-can-too, class, I give you Tony Lema after his win in 1964:
He was far more useful to me than a club. Without his help I doubt if I could have won it. It amazed me the way he just put the club in my hand.
That's Lema on his caddie Tip Anderson. Yes, that Tip Anderson.