Can Jordan Spieth complete the Grand Slam? Odds say no

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Now that Jordan Spieth is 2 for 2 at golf’s major championships this year, attention has turned to whether or not the 21-year-old can complete the Grand Slam, only been done once before in the history of the sport (Bobby Jones, 1930).

Neil Paine at fivethirtyeight.com has studied the numbers behind Jordan Spieth becoming just the fourth since 1958 to win the first two majors and only the 13th time to win back-to-back majors.

According to Paine, Spieth’s chances are not great. In fact, they’re fairly low.

“No matter how you cut it, the odds of Spieth finishing off the Grand Slam are still fairly low — about 1 percent, if the probabilities above are any kind of guide,” Paine writes.

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Fair enough, those odds suck. Still, Spieth is halfway home, and it’s hard not to get a little excited about the prospect of seeing something that’s only been done once in golf history.

As we get set to look ahead, here’s how Spieth has fared thus far in his young career at both the British Open and PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth British Open

2013: T44
2014: T36

A pretty small sample size, but Spieth did not fare well at either Muirfield or Royal Liverpool. This year’s British Open is being held at St. Andrews, where Spieth has never played a tournament. He did, however, play the Old Course before playing in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.

“I’ve played one round on St. Andrews, and it was when we were playing in the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen and we went as a team to visit St. Andrews first,” said Spieth following his U.S. Open victory.

“We played St. Andrews and Kingsbarns before going to Aberdeen. I remember walking around the clubhouse. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I remember walking around the R&A clubhouse and seeing paintings of royalty playing golf, and it was dated 14-whatever, 1460-something. I’m thinking, our country was discovered in 1492 and they were playing golf here before anyone even knew that the Americas existed. And that really amazed me and helped me realize exactly how special that place is. And that’s what comes to mind.”

Jordan Spieth PGA Championship

2013: CUT
2014: CUT

The PGA Championship has been even more unkind to Spieth in his young career – he’s missed the cut in both tries, first at Oak Hill Country Club and then at Valhalla last year.

Credit to Spieth, who isn’t even looking that far ahead (it’s at Whistling Straits this year). To Spieth, it’s about taking things one major at a time.

“I think that the Grand Slam, I think that – I’m just focused on the Claret Jug now. This 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 golf course of any in the world. And I’m just excited for the opportunity coming then, and I’m not going to think about what could possibly happen after.”

Your Take

Can Jordan Spieth capture the Grand Slam, or do those 1 percent odds sound about right? Are you even rooting for Spieth and for history to be made, or would you rather see someone else win the last two majors of the year? Give us your take in the comments below, or upload a video and tell us what you really think.