ST ANDREWS, Scotland - Only once in the history of modern majors has a player won the first three of the year in succession. That was Texan Ben Hogan in 1953, and this week, 62 years later, another Texan has the chance to match the feat at the British Open: 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.
Tiger Woods held all four major titles in succession in his "Tiger Slam," but that sequence started at the 2000 U.S. Open and finished at the 2001 Masters. Bobby Jones also won the Grand Slam of his day in 1930, but what was coined the "impregnable quadrilateral" included the U.S. and British Amateur titles as well as the U.S. and British Opens. The Masters and PGA Championship figured into the modern Grand Slam when Arnold Palmer came to St Andrews in 1960 having already won the Masters and U.S. Open.
At the Masters in April, Spieth posted a record 28 birdies over four rounds at Augusta National and became the first wire-to-wire champion since Raymond Floyd in 1976. Spieth's 270 total, 18 under par, matched the record set by Woods in 1997.
And now history tempts Spieth again at the Old Course at St Andrews as he tries to follow up on his U.S. Open victory at Chambers Bay last month.
"It's extremely special," Spieth said Wednesday. "To have a chance to do what only one other person in the history of golf has done doesn't come around very often. I'm sure embracing the opportunity, but by the time I start on Thursday it won't be in my head. It'll be about how I can get out there and get myself into contention."
Some say Spieth should have made the trip to Scotland sooner, to get acclimated and to maximize his practice time on the Old Course, but he honored a commitment to play the John Deere Classic in Illinois, where he won his first tournament in 2013. He won again on Sunday and hopped the tournament's charter plane to Scotland, arriving Monday morning.
"The whole point was to try and feel pressure over the weekend and try to perform my best, see what tendencies I got into that we could adjust for major championship pressure, and that's exactly what we did," Spieth said. "That was the game plan and I'm happy it worked out."
Spieth made his choice and he's sticking by it. As for being underprepared, it doesn't sound like it.
"This week we've been working a lot on really controlling trajectories with my approach shots, being comfortable hitting a punch shot in case it's 40-mile-an-hour winds into you," he said. "Controlling your trajectory as well as still having tight starting lines are the most important parts about attacking this golf course off the tee and into the greens."
There also has been discussion this week about Spieth playing the Old Course on a simulator.
"I have a simulator at my house and I was playing with some buddies and I figured, why not play the Old Course since we're heading there," Spieth said. "It was cool to see some of the start lines but it's not the same as being here. I'm in no way saying that's what I did to prepare for this Open. The course was a lot easier with 68 degrees and no breeze coming out of the air conditioner."
Spieth will be looking for a fast start in the first round this morning, with winds expected to pick up later and affect the afternoon starters. He tees off at 9:33 a.m. (4:33 a.m. Eastern time) with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, who missed the putt that would have taken Spieth into a playoff in the U.S. Open last month.