Golf: Spieth chasing golf immortality at PGA
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On a humid Monday in which PGA Championship golfers and fans soaked in the scenery, literally, a noticeably relaxed Jordan Spieth remained a picture of cool tranquility.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On a humid Monday in which PGA Championship golfers and fans soaked in the scenery, literally, a noticeably relaxed Jordan Spieth remained a picture of cool tranquility.
During nine practice holes with Kevin Kisner at Quail Hollow Club, amid kids and adults alike shouting "Jordan, Jordan!" the 24-year-old Spieth seemed to barely perspire.
He did, however, offer this early assessment of Quail Hollow: "Extremely tough."
It helped Monday that, for the first time, PGA Championship players were allowed to wear shorts during practice rounds. Spieth said it was nice because it reminded him of playing casual rounds back home in hot Dallas.
Spieth's blue-green shirt and gray shorts did not, however, explain why he seemed more immune to the humidity than others. Perhaps it's because he's won the British Open and two other PGA Tour events in 2017. Really, can this week's 99th PGA Championship be much of a sweat?
Yes, a victory on Sunday would make Spieth the youngest male golfer to complete the career Grand Slam, eclipsing Tiger Woods, who completed the Slam at 24 years, six months old.
Spieth, however, said during last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: "My focus isn't on completing the career Grand Slam. My focus is on the PGA Championship."
On Monday, his focus was seeing Quail Hollow, a course on which he hasn't played a competitive round since he competed in his only Wells Fargo Championship in 2013, tying for 32nd.
Last year, three of Quail Hollow's first five holes were significantly altered, with the first two holes being combined into a new No. 1 and a par 3 added, as the new No. 2.
"They didn't change that much," he said. "Really, (holes) one, two and four and five. They made one essentially an extremely long par 4 by combining the old one-two, and then they split up No. 5 into two holes, that par 5, into a 3 and 4. Other than that, it stayed the same.
"The greens are firm and the fairways are soft, so it's long and then tough to hold the greens. With the way the greens are, if they don't soften up, it's going to be 'Par is an awesome score.' "
Last week, Spieth described winning the Grand Slam as a life goal, adding that he believes his odds of completing it at some point are strong. Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen are the only players to complete the Slam.
"If it happens (this week), then fantastic," Spieth said. "And if it doesn't, then it's not going to be a big-time bummer whatsoever because I know I have plenty of opportunities.
"Getting three legs of it is much harder than getting the last leg, I think - although I've never tried to get the last leg, so it's easy for me to say."
Unlike his British Open victory three weeks ago at Royal Birkdale, where Spieth only had caddie Michael Greller accompanying him, he'll have a sizeable family and friends gallery at Quail Hollow.
On the night of his British Open win, Spieth's longtime girlfriend, Annie Verret, sent a group text to about 20 Spieth family members and friends, ultimately resulting in the group surprising Jordan and Greller with a champagne-toast greeting upon landing in Dallas.
That group will expand at Quail Hollow. On Monday, Spieth's mother, Chris, and sister, Ellie, walked five holes of Jordan's practice round, with Ellie at times walking alongside Jordan in the fairway.
Some Spieth family members already were in North Carolina, visiting relatives, when Jordan arrived Sunday night from playing the Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio. One of Jordan's grandfathers, Bob Julius, lives in Wilmington, about 200 miles southeast of Charlotte.
After his British Open victory, Spieth received congratulatory notes and texts from the likes of President George W. Bush, Nicklaus, Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
Like Spieth, Mickelson and McIlroy are one victory from completing the career Slam, though neither can do so this week. Mickelson lacks a U.S. Open title and McIlroy has yet to win the Masters.
Spieth said he sees more pros than cons about playing the PGA relatively soon after the British.
"(A pro) is you believe you're in form," he said. "I think I'm in form, and form is a huge part of being in contention, obviously. But when you feel that way going in, it feels that much easier to get into contention.
"So that's a huge pro. I'm not really finding any negatives in this."
After a session on the Quail Hollow practice range before his practice round, Spieth spent 20 minutes signing autographs, with one exhorting Spieth: "Grand Slam, baby!"
Spieth said little, but smiled and kept signing. The August sun grew hotter, but, still, it was no sweat for Spieth.
99th PGA Championship
Where: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.
Defending champion: Jimmy Walker
Fast fact: Jordan Spieth can become the sixth player with the career Grand Slam