Jordan Spieth begins his quest for the career Grand Slam.
Play in the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club beings Thursday (Aug. 9).
If the 25-year-old Spieth is the one to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, Bellerive Country Club will become the first golf club to have repeat career Grand Slams achieved on its grounds (Gary Player completed the career Grand Slam at Bellerive in the 1965 U.S. Open).
Last year at Quail Hallow, Spieth was fresh off a victory at Royal Birkdale that had put him on the precipice of the career Grand Slam.
Spieth didn’t win. He finished tied for 28th.
Now, he has another shot at the Slam.
“I think I was probably a little more anxious last year, just because there was a big focus right after winning the Open Championship,” Spieth said during a news conference at Bellerive Country Club. “I think, going in, there was a big focus on it, given it was right after The Open Championship, after winning The Open Championship, so it was fresh, I was in form, and going to a place that, if I worked up the leaderboard, it would create a lot of noise.
“I feel somewhat under the radar this year. I’ve kind of felt that way a lot this year, I don’t mind it.”
Naturally, Spieth would like to earn his Slam here in St. Louis.
“This tournament will always be circled until I’m able to hopefully win it some day. It will always be circled to complete the career Grand Slam, which will ultimately achieve a life-long goal for me,” Spieth said. “So certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee, just more going into the week.”
Spieth has not won since Royal Birkdale.
Last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, Spieth finished 20 shots off the pace. He had not made the top 20 for eight consecutive events.
Spieth has only taken that one crack at joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods in completing the modern Grand Slam.
But history suggests that if he doesn’t lift the Wannamaker Trophy soon, Spieth might never accomplish the feat.
Nicklaus needed just three tries after winning the PGA in ’63 to win his first British Open, and Player likewise needed three tries after the ’65 U.S. Open to win his first British.
Woods needed about a month between the U.S. Open and British Open in 2000, then added the PGA a few weeks later and the Masters the following year to hold all four majors at the same time.
Arnold Palmer tried for more than three decades to finish the Slam at the PGA. Tom Watson spent 24 years chasing it.
Spieth should have plenty of support this week.
He has family connections here.
“My mom’s side of my family comes from St. Louis. My mom doesn’t, but my grandpa was born here and raised here, and so it’s a lot of my mom’s cousins, so not like my first cousins,” Spieth said. “But there’s a few family members that have traveled from St. Louis and seen me play before, but there will be quite a few out that haven’t that get the opportunity here, which is really cool.
“Ticket demand, I’m not sure. I think it was high, but my parents were, I think, feeding that in through Jay over there, so that’s — I haven’t been really focused on that or I’m not even sure about it, but I’m sure it’s high. The PGA of America’s done a great job of helping out, and, yeah, it should be — it’s really fun when you get an opportunity to play in front of family, and my grandpa will be out here this week, and I love having him around. He comes to as many as he can.
His grandpa’s name is Bob Julius.
“I call him Gramps. He’s — yeah, he goes by — he’ll introduce himself as Gramps, yeah,” Spieth said. “It’s really fun when you get a chance to play in front of family.”