Jordan Spieth’s dramatic victory in he Open Championship at Royal Birkdale took him one step away from a career Grand Slam of majors.
Spieth boasts three majors on his CV as he overcame a potential final round collapse—in which he needed 20 minutes to adjudicate on a ruling on a drop zone on the driving range, so wide was his drive on the 13th—to lift the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale.
The American responded somehow escaping that 13th with just a bogey and one dropped shot before finishing the remaining holes in 5-under par to triumph by three shots over fellow American Matt Kuchar.
The victory made it three majors before the age of 24 for Spieth, with The Open joining the 2015 US Masters and US Open on his list of successes. He now needs a PGA Championship victory to join the elite list of just five golfers to have completed the Grand Slam (Rory McIlroy also has three with the Masters being the missing piece of his jigsaw).
So, is Spieth a potential contender for a PGA Championship win?
Jack Nicklaus, who holds the record for the most career majors (18)—Tiger Woods follows with 14—thinks Spieth might well be the man to surpass his record and predicts the American could dominate the sport for years to come. This is, particularly, because of the way he overcame potential adversity at Birkdale on the dramatic final round.
Nicklaus, who like Spieth won his first three majors before the age of 24, wrote: “Wow, what a back nine. Is Jordan Spieth something else? Much was said about the fact Jordan and I were able to win three legs of the Grand Slam before the age of 24. But if you look, he has won 11 tournaments and I had won eight before 24.
“If you look at his victory total, his Open win—and the way he won—Jordan has shown an amazing display of maturity for someone so young. And he has been doing that for quite a while. His victory was a great display of guts, determination and skill. I was just very happy for him and very impressed to watch it.”
There is no doubt Spieth among this year’s favourites to win the 2017 PGA Championship. However, whether that Grand Slam comes this year remains to be seen.
Either way, another major champion Ernie Els expects Spieth to be dominant for years to come—in much the same way Tiger Woods dominated the game following his emergence as a star.
“Who knows where he’s going to end,” Els told reporters. “He could go really big. He can go up to the 14 mark majors.
“When you get on a roll like that guys kind of start knowing that you know how to win, almost like Tiger where people can maybe feel like they can’t do it against Jordan because he’s been up there a few times now.”
Other contemporaries were full of praise too. “I think he’s an incredibly gifted golfer, a phenomenal player and he’s 23 right now,” Adam Scott said.
Another major champion Zach Johnson added: “’It’s easier said than done but Rory (McIlroy), Jordan, they never cease to amaze me. I’m not going to say they’re Tiger Woods, because they’re not. That’s the best athlete golfer I’ve ever witnessed. But they have some of those intangibles. They’re hard to pinpoint but those guys have them.”
Woods, meanwhile, took to Twitter after Spieth’s victory: “What an incredible way to come back and win. Many congrats.”