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There’s a reason Jordan Spieth is as popular as he is with golf fans across the world.

For a player who sits comfortably under the global superstar banner, Spieth is about as relatable to us mere mortals as it gets.

Any time the Texan is on screen, you know it’s only a matter of moments before you find yourself empathetically nodding along. It might be that he’s pleading with his golf ball as it flies through the air, or putting himself under the oh-so-familiar mental torture that is the decision to use a five-wood or a nine-iron for a risky second shot into a par-five, only to take the safe option and pipe it into the trees.

We all live the vicarious tour life through Spieth.

And yet he is just four rounds away from about the most unrelatable achievement in the game – the Grand Slam.

“It’s a career goal of mine, a life goal,” Spieth told reporters after his Open triumph in 2017 left the PGA Championship as the only hole in his major CV.

Fast forward to this week and he’s being far more casual about it.

“I’m aware,” he said when asked how much he thinks about it. “But I would take any and all and as many majors as possible regardless of where they come.

“It’s a cool thing if you’re able to hold all four. There’s not many people that have done that and you have an opportunity to do things that are very unique in the game of golf, that’s what stands out, and stands the test of time afterwards.”

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth is all smiles ahead of his latest bid to win the Grand Slam. (Credit: Getty Images)

This month’s trip to Valhalla will be the 468th major contested in the men’s game. Only five golfers – Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods – have won all four.

And while Rory McIlroy’s quest to add a certain Green Jacket to his wardrobe, as well as Phil Mickelson’s now seemingly impossible task of finally claiming the US Open, have grabbed the headlines for many years now, Spieth’s bid for his own chapter in the history books has gone somewhat under the radar.

“The PGA Championship is going to be the toughest for me,” he explained. “If we look historically back on my career, I play this tournament worse than the other three majors just in the way that it’s set up.”

His 12th attempt to win the PGA Championship – and eighth to complete the Grand Slam – will come at a golf course on which Spieth has only competed once. That was the last time the Kentucky club hosted the annual battle for the Wanamaker. He missed the cut by five.

The reality, though, is that Spieth has yet to put up any real challenge at the PGA Championship since completing the third leg of his Slam at Royal Birkdale.

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth moved within one win of the Grand Slam at the 2017 Open. (Credit: Getty Images)

He only had to wait three weeks for his first attempt. If successful, he would have been the youngest to ever do it, beating Woods’ record by more than six months. But he broke par just once at Quail Hollow and finished ten shots and 27 places behind his good friend Justin Thomas.

“I didn’t have it written in a diary from when I was young that I need to win a career Grand Slam as the youngest ever,” Spieth protested. “That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to try and win them all.”

A tie for 12th followed a year later at Bellerive, but again he was 12 shots behind champion Brooks Koepka.

A move to May in 2019 meant he didn’t have to wait long for another go at it, and a tie for third is more flattering than the reality with Spieth finishing six behind an unstoppable Koepka at Bethpage. That was as close as he got to the defending champion all week.

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By the time Spieth’s fourth attempt came at the postponed PGA Championship in 2020, he had fallen outside the world’s top 50 for the first time since entering it in 2013, and he found himself in the unfamiliar territory of making headlines for the wrong reasons. Only a handful of players that made the cut finished below him at a fan-free Harding Park.

Spieth, at the time, said “majors aren’t necessarily about form”, adding that “they’re about experience and being able to grind it out” and how he has “more confidence going into a major no matter where my game is at”. But the numbers don’t lie. His results that season were tied-46th, tied-71st and missed cut – the only year since his rookie season he had failed to have a single top ten in the majors.

And though 2021 brought a return to form and top-three finishes at Augusta and Royal St George’s, it was a tie for 30th at Kiawah. A year later it was a tie for 34th at Southern Hills as Thomas once again lifted that huge trophy.

Spieth’s last attempt was a tie for 29th as Koepka became the first five-time major champion in the men’s game since Mickelson ten years earlier, went so far under the radar that he wasn’t even asked about his Grand Slam prospects at Oak Hill as the focus instead turned to a lingering wrist injury.

Jordan Spieth
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are two active players within one major of the Grand Slam. (Credit: Getty Images)

Spieth was 24 when he had his first shot at completing the Slam. He’s now 30 and time, it feels, is against him. It’s not unreasonable to suggest he only has, at most, ten more chances to get the job done.

Also working against Spieth is our old friend history.

Of the five who have done it, the longest wait between completing the third and fourth legs was three years.

Meanwhile, only Sarazen and Hogan achieved the feat after they had left their 20s. (Indeed, the former was 33 when he first had a shot at winning the Masters, while the latter didn’t win any of his nine majors until he was in his mid-30s and finished off his Slam at Carnoustie a month shy of his 41st birthday.)

He can say what he wants about it not being a factor going into the majors, but we can dismiss that notion immediately with those pesky facts.

Spieth’s Strokes Gained stats so far this season offer a glimmer of hope. He is 22nd in SG: Total, 15th in SG: Off the Tee, 29th in SG: Putting, and 63rd in SG: Around the Green. But Valhalla has small greens, and whoever tops the field in SG: Approach the Green will contend. Spieth’s current position in this category? 135th. Dial it in a bit further and only a handful of players are worse than him at scrambling this year.

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth will need his putter to work if he is to win the PGA Championship. (Credit: Under Armour)

But, anecdotally, when Spieth is in action, you simply cannot rule anything out.

For those of us observing from afar, Spieth in a good place.

“I’m blessed with a great family who are always just looking out for my best interests,” he said.

“I’ve got an amazing team and I’ve got full trust in everyone that’s on my side that they’re going to be the best at what they do so I can go out and feel the freedom to enjoy playing golf.”

When Spieth is in his happy place, he often contends. When he contends, he often wins.

You’re on the brink of joining one of golf’s most exclusive clubs, Jordan.

Just don’t forget us when you get there.

We’ve previewed the PGA Championship – including Jordan Spieth’s Grand Slam chances – on The bunkered Podcast. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts!

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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