PGA Championship 2017: Jordan Spieth eyes chance to create history

Jordan Spieth with his sister Ellie during a practice round on Tuesday, prior to the start of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The American has the momentum after his dramatic Open victory, but Rory McIlroy has
Jordan Spieth with his sister Ellie during a practice round on Tuesday, prior to the start of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The American has the momentum after his dramatic Open victory, but Rory McIlroy has a special affinity for the course.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

American on the brink of career Grand Slam, but McIlroy could emulate Nicklaus, Woods

CHARLOTTE (North Carolina) • Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy make their bids for golfing history when the 99th PGA Championship tees off today at Quail Hollow with heavy rain and storms in the weather forecast.

World No. 2 Spieth, who won his third Major title two weeks ago at the British Open, would become the youngest golfer to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the year's last Major.

The 24-year-old, who also won the 2015 Masters and US Open, is on the brink of becoming only the sixth man to sweep all four Major titles after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.

Spieth will be 24 years and 17 days old on Sunday, about six months younger than Woods - the youngest so far to complete the set - was when he won the 2000 British Open.

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But he insisted that he is not burdened with any extra pressure this week.

"If I'm healthy and playing well, I play in 30 (PGA Championships), I believe I'll have plenty of chances to win," he said. "If it's this year and it happens, that's great, that's another life-long goal achieved. But I believe that I'll do it some day."

McIlroy has to wait till the Masters to complete his own career Grand Slam. But the 28-year-old could become only the third player to win five Majors before turning 30, joining Nicklaus and Woods.

  • TEE TIMES

  • 1ST ROUND (Selected, US unless stated)

    1ST TEE
    8.30pm (Singapore time)

    Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Danny Willett (Eng)
    Tomorrow, 1.05am Adam Scott (Aus), Luke Donald (Eng), 1.15am Kim Si Woo (Kor) 1.25am Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson 1 35am Rory McIlroy (Nir), Jon Rahm (Esp), Rickie Fowler 1.45am Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose (Eng)

    10TH TEE
    7.45pm Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Ernie Els (Rsa), Ian Poulter (Eng) 8.25pm Sergio Garcia (Esp), Brooks Koepka , Jordan Spieth 8.35pm Jason Day (Aus), Dustin Johnson , Henrik Stenson (Swe)

    Tomorrow, 1am Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 2.20am Li Haotong (Chn)

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Northern Irishman, however, has not won a Major since the 2014 PGA Championship.

What he has done is win twice at Quail Hollow - which has also hosted the Wells Fargo Championship - and lost another in a playoff. In fact, in seven starts at Quail Hollow, McIlroy has finished outside the top 10 just once.

He owns the course record after shooting 61 during the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship, breaking his own mark set at the same tournament in 2010 en route to claiming his first PGA Tour title.

"Some golf courses you go to, it just gives you that feeling," said the world No. 4. "You don't really have to have your best game and you still feel like you have a chance to win, and that's how it feels here.

"I've got some great memories here. Once you go back to a place where you do have great memories, all that starts to come flooding back to you and it makes you feel good about yourself. That's how I feel around here."

  • 2

  • Wins Rory McIlroy has at Quail Hollow. He has more victories at the venue than Jordan Spieth has starts (one).

Changes have been made to the layout since his victories in 2010 and 2015, but he believes the alterations suit him. The 7,600-yard, par-71 Quail Hollow this week is made longer with revisions to three holes on the front nine and is more difficult with rough added and greens made faster.

Spieth may well be happy that McIlroy has taken some of the focus away from him, and he is content to shy away from the role of favourite.

"I'd say Rory is probably the guy to beat," admitted the American.

The bookmakers agree, giving McIlroy a 7-1 chance, with Spieth at 8-1.

"I think it's partly to do with the upturn in form that I've had over the last few weeks and then my history on this golf course," said McIlroy, who was tied for fourth in last month's British Open and joint-fifth in last week's World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio.

"I think it's a little bit of both."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Spieth eyes chance to create history'. Print Edition | Subscribe