Jordan Spieth not feeling any pressure to complete Grand Slam

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 06: Jordan Spieth of the United States hits from a tee during a practice round prior to the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 06: Jordan Spieth of the United States hits from a tee during a practice round prior to the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Jordan Spieth attempts to complete the career Grand Slam this week at the PGA Championship. Just don’t remind him come Thursday.

If there is any pressure on Jordan Spieth trying to make history this week, he isn’t showing it.

Spieth comes into the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club this week attempting to become the sixth golfer to complete the career Grand Slam. It’s a feat that only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods have accomplished.

Spieth says, however, that joining these greats of the game won’t be on his mind if he finds himself near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.

“I don’t think, if I were to get myself into contention this week, or next year or whatever, I don’t think that plays any part in forcing anything,” he said at his Tuesday press conference. “I think I’ll approach it as in, this is a golf tournament that I have a chance to win. Go about it how you go about any other Saturday and Sunday trying to win.”

Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015, then added the third leg of the Grand Slam by winning the Open Championship last year. He was 28th at the PGA Championship in his first shot at completing the Grand Slam last year.

He admits that, coming so soon after his Open Championship victory, there was more focus on the feat in 2017 then there is going into this year. Even he felt it last year.

“I think I was probably a little more anxious last year,” he said. “I think, going in, there was a big focus on it given it was right after the Open Championship. It was fresh. I was in form and going to a place where, if I worked up the leaderboard, it would create a lot of noise.”

If Spieth is able to complete the final leg of the slam at Bellerive, he wouldn’t be the first. Gary Player also finished off his Grand Slam here at the U.S. Open in 1965.

But if he doesn’t do it, he will only be joining a long list of legends that fell one major short. Both Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson never won the PGA Championship. Phil Mickelson is missing the U.S. Open, a tournament he has been runner-up at six times. Sam Snead was also runner-up at the U.S. Open four times but was never able to walk away with the trophy. Byron Nelson lacks the Claret Jug, but he only played in Britain once while in his prime.

More from PGA Championship

Then there is Rory McIlroy, who has had his own Grand Slam chances fall short at the Masters each of the last four years. In April, McIlroy had a great opportunity to do it in the final pairing with Patrick Reed on Sunday, but a disappointing final round saw him fall to fifth. He has some advice for Spieth this week: Don’t focus too much on it, but recognize you’re already in elite company just getting this far.

“Having had a few goes at it, I think less expectation is better,” McIlroy said on Tuesday. “Trying to take pressure off yourself. Trying to treat it like any normal week. Trying to win the golf tournament that week. Sort of put it out of your head, what winning this golf tournament would mean in terms of your legacy and your place in the game.”

Spieth doesn’t have much to fall back on this year. He hasn’t won since Royal Birkdale last July. Three weeks ago at Carnoustie, he held a share of the lead going into the final round but shot six-over on Sunday and fell to ninth. The fact that he has struggled to win recently makes Spieth feel like there is not a lot of attention being paid to the Grand Slam this time around.

“I feel somewhat under the radar this year,” he said. “But at the same time 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 lifelong goal for me. So there’s certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee. It’s just more going into the week.”

At 25, Spieth has already accomplished in his career what most golfers only dream of. He can’t complain about the extra attention he faces and will continue to face at the PGA Championship until he wins. After all, few players even get this far.

“It’s a great position to be in,” McIlroy said. “Not many people have a chance to do something like that.”

Spieth begins his run at history Thursday with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose at 1:37 local time (2.37 EST).