Where does Spieth's season rank?

By Matt AdamsAugust 27, 2015, 10:15 pm

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize greatness. Oh, we know when someone has done something extraodinary, but it is difficult at times to fully comprehend when an athlete has accomplished something that borders on the best ever. Case in point, Tiger Woods’ “Tiger Slam” in 2000-2001. Much of the focus was on the fact that Woods did not produce a true Grand Slam – winning all four majors in a calendar year. But his achievement was unprecedented - no one had previously held all four professional major trophies at the same time. My sense is that 50 years from now fans will look back on this achievement in awe. 

Similarly, Jordan Spieth’s 2015 campaign, in which he won two majors and ascended to the No. 1 world ranking, may ultimately be viewed with similar accolades ... or will it? 

Spieth is the 15th man to win two or more majors in a season in the Masters era, which encompasses 1934 to the present. If you subtract 1940-45, when one or more of the majors was not held because of World War II, you come up with 76 years of majors as we know them. We’ll include 1941 – bumping the number of years to 77 - even though the Open Championship wasn’t played, because Craig Wood still managed to win two majors – the Masters and U.S. Open. Those 15 players have produced 26 multiple-major seasons, which over 77 years is a rate of 34 percent, so a multiple-major season isn’t as rare as might be expected.

Only two men have won three professional majors in a season – Ben Hogan in 1953, when he took the Masters and U.S. and British Opens, and Woods in 2000, when he won the U.S. and British Opens and the PGA.

But what about two-major seasons? Certainly there have been some great ones: Nicklaus in 1972, when his Grand Slam dream died agonizingly in the Open Championship at Muirfield when his closing 66 was blunted by Lee Trevino’s chip-in for par at the 71st hole and a one-shot victory margin. Nicklaus again in 1975, when he came up one shot short of the Tom Watson-Jack Newton playoff that resulted in the first of Watson’s five Open Championship wins. Palmer in 1962, when he rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat by Nicklaus in a “hometown” U.S. Open at Oakmont to win the Open Championship for his second major of the year.

Palmer’s 1960 season deserves special mention. After winning his second Masters, he cemented his legend with his spectacular final-round comeback from seven shots back to start the day in the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. His closing 65 vaulted him over Nicklaus (while still amateur, he’d finish with a final round of 71, two shots back, alone in second place) and Hogan (final round of 73, T-9, four shots adrift), among others. With the charge of Palmer, the introduction of Nicklaus and the swan song of Hogan, this was one of golf’s most historic rounds. The modern application of the term Grand Slam was born when newspaperman and Palmer crony Bob Drum used it to define Palmer’s intent to add victories at the Open Championship at St. Andrews (he would finish second by a stroke to Kel Nagle) and the PGA Championship (he would finish T-7, five shots behind Jay Hebert).

What about Spieth? If we look at how he did in the other two majors, his performance is equaled only by Woods in 2005. That year Woods was runner-up to Michael Campbell by two shots in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and T-4 in the PGA, two shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. Spieth finished T-4 in this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews, one stroke out of the three-man playoff won by Zach Johnson, and second by three shots to Jason Day in the PGA at Whistling Straits. Obviously which of these seasons is better, at least judged by the majors, is open to debate.

Adding in performance in non-majors, Woods won an additional four times (two of which were World Golf Championship events), while Spieth has won two additional tournaments and still has the FedEx Cup Playoffs before him. And wouldn’t it be another interesting conversation to compare the weight of two wins in the playoffs to two WGC wins?

While it’s debatable exactly where Spieth’s 2015 campaign fits into the pages of history, what cannot be denied is how much fun it was to have witnessed it and to compare it to the all-time greats. 


Players who won two or more majors in a season in the Masters era (1934-present)

2000-2015

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
2015 Jordan Spieth 1 1 T-4 2
2014 Rory McIlroy T-8 T-23 1 1
2008 Padraig Harrington T-5 T-36 1 1
2006 Tiger Woods T-3 MC 1 1
2005 Tiger Woods 1 2 1 T-4
2002 Tiger Woods 1 1 T-28 2
2000 Tiger Woods 5 1 1 1

1990-1999

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1998 Mark O'Meara       1 T-32 1 T-4
1994 Nick Price T-35 MC 1 1
1990 Nick Faldo 1 T-3 1 T-19

1980-1989

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1982 Tom Watson        T-5 1 1 T-9
1980 Jack Nicklaus T-33 1 T-4 1

1970-1979

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1977 Tom Watson        1 T-7 1 T-6
1975 Jack Nicklaus 1 T-7 T-3 1
1974 Gary Player 1 T-8 1 7
1972 Jack Nicklaus 1 1 2 T-13
1971 Lee Trevino DNP 1 1 T-13

1960-1969

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1966 Jack Nicklaus       1 3 1 T-22
1963 Jack Nicklaus 1 MC 3 1
1962 Arnold Palmer 1 2 1 T-17
1960 Arnold Palmer 1 1 2 T-7

1950-1959

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1953 Ben Hogan         1 1 1 DNP
1951 Ben Hogan 1 1 DNP DNP

1940-1949

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1949 Sam Snead       1 T-2 DNP 1
1948 Ben Hogan T-6 1 DNP 1
1941 Craig Wood 1 1 NT R-32

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”