For the third-consecutive PGA Championship, 25-year-old Jordan Spieth will have the opportunity to become just the sixth player in PGA Tour history to complete the Career Grand Slam – joining golf legends Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods in the elite club.
Unfortunately for Spieth, though, he’s entering in poor form, and not really considered a threat this week. Stuck in a year-long slump that nearly everyone thought he would have busted out of by now, his 2019 season has been a nightmare, as the former World No. 1 has failed to even record a top-20 finish.
At a pre-tournament press conference at Bethpage on Wednesday, Spieth blamed accuracy off the tee for his current poor form.
“It’s just been my driving of the golf ball that’s — yeah. Even on some of the good rounds I get away with a bad couple of drives, but then over the course of four rounds, you just can’t continue to get away with them,” said Spieth, who ranks 205th (of 214) in driving accuracy this season, hitting just 52% of his fairways.
“Kind of the foul ball type thing. Balls need to start more on line, and it’s happening. It’s getting there. And I feel like I’m working on one swing feel now instead of changing it up each round, which allows me to be more consistent, to recognize where the club face is and be able to time it a little bit better. And that’s only been the last week or so that I’ve been really sticking to kind of one swing feel, really nailing it down.”
Spieth hoped to get his game back on track with a strong showing at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, his hometown event, but while he played mostly well though three rounds, he again failed to put together four quality rounds. A final-round even-par 71 at the ultra low-scoring Trinity Forest Golf Club, which was the worst Sunday round of anyone who finished inside the top 34, dropped him into a share of 29th place; not quite the result he had envisioned.
“Yeah, I think I’m going for as much consistency as possible. I’ve shot some low rounds, but piecing together four has been difficult this season so far,” continued Spieth.
“But I’ve shown, I think — it’s gotten more progressively consistent throughout the year, and out here you’re going to need that kind of consistency.
“You need your bad rounds to be held at about par to win this tournament, and you need your good rounds to go deep enough.”
Still, Spieth is a three-time major champion and is plenty conversant with the pressure that goes along with these big-time events. It would be surprising if he suddenly put it back together this week, but he is certainly capable.
For his part, Spieth is taking it one swing at a time.
“You know, I just go week to week and try and set up to hit my first tee shot tomorrow down the fairway and then try to hit the second shot on the green and then make a putt and figure out how to birdie the next,” said Spieth, who has fallen to No. 39 in the world rankings.
“It’s going to be very here in the moment for me, every PGA Championship, just as it is at every major. I feel like I’m more patient in majors with letting courses come to me than I am at other tournaments, and I feel like this is a good time for me to test that out.”
In the opening two rounds, Spieth will be paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and No. 11 Jon Rahm.