DAVE SKRETTA, AP sports writer
TULSA, Okla (AP) – Not so long ago, it seemed pre-determined that Jordan Spieth would one day win a grand slam golf tournament.
Until recently, it seemed that he might never fight again.
After overcoming a tiger-like path as a professional during his first three years, including triumphs at the Masters and US Open in 2015 and the British Open in 17, Spieth suddenly went sideways. The sharp blow of the ball, which had once envied him so much, left him, his driver went a little crazy, and his short game disappointed him.
The former No. 1 unit has been left without a victory for almost four years and has fallen to 92nd place in the world rankings.
Armed with a reworked swing, preparing for thousands of blows and overflowing with confidence after winning Hilton Head and second place in last week’s Byron Nelson, the popular 28-year-old Texasan arrived again at the PGA Championship this week. among the favorites who pick up the Wannamaker Trophy on Sunday.
Finally, join the most exclusive club.
“Certainly at this point, when I have won the other three, it’s an elephant in my room,” Spieth admitted before heading to Wednesday’s practice round. “If you just told me I would win one tournament for the rest of my life, I would say I want to win this one, given where things are.”
History does not necessarily have to be on his side.
None of the five players who won the Grand Slam waited more than three years for the final match. Gene Sarazen in 1935, Ben Hogan in 1953 and Tiger Woods in 2000 did so on the first try; Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were not left behind.
Some of the best players in the game will never do that either.
Arnold Palmer’s victory at the British Open in 1961 meant that, like Spieth, he only needed the PGA to complete, but he would still have played the tournament 34 times without winning. The unpleasant history of Phil Mickelson’s second place at the US Open is well documented. The same tournament is missing from the biography of three-time PGA champion Sam Snead. Byron Nelson and Raymond Floyd never won the British Open, while Lee Trevino won every major (twice) except the Masters.
“In the long run,” Spieth said, “it would be really great to say that you have captured the four biggest tournaments in the world, which are played in different parts of the world and also in different styles. You feel like you’ve mastered golf. “
It’s a feeling that Rory McIlory, who will play the first two rounds in the Southern Hills with Spieth and Tiger Woods, knows well. The two-time PGA champion has won the Masters eight times, missing the only major in his own ledger and four times in the top 5, finishing in second place earlier this year.
“I think the most consistent way to get a chance to win these big championships is to adopt a conservative strategy,” McIlroy said. “Tiger has done it most of his career and well, he has had some huge victories there, but many times he has been conservative in his strategy and let others make mistakes – the couples are quite good at big championships, and that’s a kind of philosophy in which I believe we will move on. . “
Another word for a conservative might be intentional, and that’s a good way to describe Spieth today.
When he drowned in mediocrity, he tore down his swing and began to rebuild it. Spieth implemented a curious pre-shooting test – almost mechanical – designed to get him in the right position at the right pace. The intentional routine is not just for driving range or practice bikes. Spieth takes it straight to the course with him.
“I get to the ball quickly, I play faster than before, I don’t slow down anyone and I do better and more determined swings with it,” he explained. “At this point, I’m exactly where I am and will continue to do so.” It’s just an effort – as I mentioned – to go back, go forward, go back to my DNA about how I moved the club up. “
It’s like waving in 2015, when Spieth won the first two big tournaments of this year and people started whispering about the Grand Slam. Or a few years later, when he added Claret Jug to his trophy suitcase, still missing only the PGA.
“You want to win any major,” Justin Thomas said, “and this one will always be a little more pedestal than the others. I know he’ll be fine. And I don’t say that just because he’s one of my best friends.” . I just saw him do it when he’s not playing well. I saw him play well when he plays well. It’s just for him, it was hard. I mean, she’ll be fine. “
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