Anthony L. Cuaycong
Needless to say, all eyes will be on Jordan Spieth as the first round of the PGA Championship gets under way today. Among other things, he has in his hands the opportunity to become the youngest player ever to claim a career Grand Slam, and it’s to his advantage that he carries momentum from his British Open victory last month. That said, he cannot but feel the pressure, with every step he takes and every shot he makes at Quail Hollow slated to be scrutinized no end. It comes with the territory, of course; as he approaches the stuff of legend, he will find himself up against not just his peers, but, more importantly, against his idols.
For Spieth’s fans, here’s the good news: He’s confident of his chances, and doesn’t seem fazed by the moment. In no small measure, it’s due to his constant brushes with greatness; there’s no better remedy for here-and-now nerves than the experience of having gone through the same with success. Not coincidentally, he deems all the talk about his would-be record “noise,” and believes his form this year approximates that which gave him his ascendant slate in 2015. The difference, he says, was that he felt better on and around the greens then, and off the tee and on approach now.
In any case, Spieth has embraced his status as tournament favorite — or, depending on viewpoint, co-favorite with World Number Four Rory McIlroy, who is likewise up for a career Grand Slam at the Masters next year. Even with Quail Hollow set to play wet and long, he considers his ball-striking and iron play improved to the point where he can stay aggressive. As an aside, he noted in his presser yesterday that “I love the Bermuda greens, and I feel like they are a good style and speed to kind of get my putting right where I want it.”
Simply put, Spieth is ready. He has the game, and it’s sharp, and with the right combine of luck and smarts, he may very well end up meeting pre-event prognoses.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Basic Energy Corp.