Why change a good thing? Jordan Spieth wants to keep his bid for golf’s Grand Slam going. That’s why he was quick to nix a possible schedule change after his victory in the U.S. Open.
Spieth, who has won the Masters and U.S. Open already, will make his last competitive tuneup for next month’s British Open – the third leg of the Grand Slam – in the John Deere Classic July 9-12 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL., on the outskirt of the Quad Cities.
The British Open is the following week at St. Andrews in Scotland. Spieth could head to Europe early and pick up a hefty appearance fee by playing in the Scottish Open, which is opposite the JDC, but he’s not planning on doing that. Spieth had long since committed to play in the JDC, but he was asked again now that so much history will be on the line.
“I plan to go (to Scotland) on a charter, the way I’ve done the last two years after the John Deere,’’ said Spieth. “So I won’t be there as early as I was for (the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in Washington), but that’s the same time I got in for the Masters. I don’t think I have to be in early this year. I got in late Sunday night to Augusta.’’
That April week he made the Masters his first victory in a major championship. He’ll have the same preparation time for the British, since the JDC offers non-stop jet service to British qualifiers a few hours after the last putt drops at TPC Deere Run.
Spieth is the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the youngest to win two career majors in the same year since Gene Sarazen in 1922. He’s also just the sixth golfer – behind Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods — to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.
Preparing for the Masters at the JDC isn’t unusual since JDC director Clair Peterson arranged for convenient jet travel across the pond. Spieth, who won his first PGA Tour event at the JDC in 2013, is one of about 20 British-eligible players expected compete at TPC Deere Run this year. Louis Oosthuizen, the British winner in 2004, even prepared for his title defense by playing in the JDC the week before.
Spieth should come to this year’s JDC well rested. He’s skipping the next two PGA Tour stops – this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut and next week’s Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.
No golfer has won the modern Grand Slam (Woods held all four titles at one time but over two years). Spieth isn’t ruling it out.
“It’s in the realm of possibility,’’ he said. “(Chambers Bay) was somewhat of a British-style golf course, so are the next two majors. I’ve proven to myself that I can win on a British-style golf course now. Now I take it to the truest British-style course in the world. I’m just excited for the opportunity.’’
JDC touch at Encompass
Unfortunate scheduling has the JDC playing opposite Chicago’s Champions Tour event, the Encompass Championship July 10-12 at North Shore in Glenview, this year. Still, six former JDC champions – D.A. Weibring, David Frost, Scott Hoch, Dan Forsman, Mark Wiebe and Joey Sindelar – are in the Encompass field.
New to the Encompass tourney this year are two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen and former Masters champion Ian Woosnam. Janzen and Woosnam are among eight players competing at North Shore who have already won tournaments on the Champions Tour this season.
Here and there
The 82nd playing of the Illinois Women’s Amateur started on Tuesday with an 18-hole qualifying round to determine flight participants. Match play runs Wednesday through Sunday at Illini Country Club in Springfield.
The 96th Chicago District Amateur concludes its four-day run at Knollwood, in Lake Forest, on Thursday.
Chun An Yu, who moved from Taiwan to Clermont, FL., in January, won the 98th Western Junior at Riverside Golf Club. He triumphed in the first playoff for the title since the tourney switched from match play to stroke play in 1999. Daniel Hudson of Western Springs, who tied for third, was the top Chicago player in the competition.
The last two of the seven qualifying rounds for next month’s Illinois Open are Thursday at Willow Crest in Oak Brook and Monday at Elgin Country Club.