Broken Clouds 56° Good Evening
Broken Clouds 56° Good Evening

Jordan Spieth the talk of St. Andrews

Dustin Johnson tees off on the 14th hole

Dustin Johnson tees off on the 14th hole during practice ahead of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 13, 2015 in St Andrews, Scotland. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- There was no escaping Jordan Spieth even before he arrived yesterday at St. Andrews to resume his pursuit of the Grand Slam.

Behind the practice range, one British television network talked to any player willing to stop. After a few gratuitous questions about the weather (cool and cloudy) and the Old Course (magnificent shape), the reporter got to the point.

What about Spieth's chances? "The odds are against him," Soren Kjeldsen said.

Spieth is only the fourth player since 1960, the year Arnold Palmer proposed the concept of the modern Grand Slam in golf, to win the first two majors of the year. The first three were stopped at the British Open.

Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (1972) finished one shot behind. Tiger Woods was in good position in 2002 until he was blown away by the wind and rain at Muirfield and shot 81 in the third round. Spieth added to the hype by winning the John Deere Classic in a playoff Sunday for his fourth win of the year.

He flew on a charter flight from Illinois with other players at the John Deere Classic, arriving in Scotland at about 10:30 a.m. and checking into his house before coming out to the Old Course to a quiet reception.

The jet lag apparently wasn't an issue yesterday. Spieth, 21, planned to hit balls and play nine holes if he felt up to it. He wound up going 18 holes, and the fans who hung around into the evening were in for a rare treat -- Spieth playing, with Woods right behind him.

They chatted briefly on the 16th green, and Spieth had some fun on the Road Hole at No. 17. He hit three shots out of the famous bunker, all of them onto the green. Then he headed toward the stone wall behind the road and asked a few fans still left, "Can you play it off the wall? I didn't come here to play boring golf." He tried it four times and didn't reach the green once.

What makes Spieth different from other players in pursuit of the Grand Slam is that he doesn't overpower courses. He just scores. And wins.

"He beats you with better golf," Geoff Ogilvy said. "He doesn't beat you because he hits it further. Tiger's intimidation was that he always did something amazing. Jordan -- don't get me wrong, his body of work is amazing -- but he doesn't beat you with a crazy par or a crazy chip-in from the back of the 14th at Muirfield [Village]. He just beats you because he's better."

Ogilvy was asked how he would feel going into the final round two shots behind Spieth compared with going against Woods or Rory McIlroy. "It would be different. It shouldn't be," he said. "There's more of an intimidation factor to Rory because he's going to hit it 30 [yards] past you all day, and it appears like he's better than you. Jordan doesn't appear like he's better than you. But his body of work proves that he's better than everybody -- well, maybe everybody but Rory."

With his victory at the John Deere, Spieth is within range of his goal of reaching No. 1 in the world. He would have to win The Open this week to get past McIlroy, who is out with an ankle injury with no clear indication when he will be able to return.

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