The career Grand Slam, who’s got the best chance to achieve the feat next?

SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 14: (L-R) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Phil Mickelson of the United States shake hands as Jordan Spieth of the United States walks off on the ninth hole during the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 14, 2018 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 14: (L-R) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Phil Mickelson of the United States shake hands as Jordan Spieth of the United States walks off on the ninth hole during the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 14, 2018 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

The Grand Slam, the mountain only five men have ever concurred. Winning one of golf’s majors is tough enough, but Nicklaus, Woods, Hogan, Player, and Sarazen have won them all.

So many great players have fallen just short of achieving the Grand Slam, like Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer. Both men are missing the same major, the PGA Championship, and both men finished 2nd at the event in their careers. So close, yet so far.

Today, there are currently five players on tour who have a chance to achieve the incredible feat. However, some have a much greater chance than others. Let’s take a look at the players who are hoping to join the elite group.

Rory McIlroy- Needs the Masters

The way I have set up the article is by starting with who I believe has the best chance out of the five players, working backward to who I believe has the least chance. However, I don’t think many people can disagree with Rory having the best chance to complete the slam.

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Rory is currently the number one player in the world and has played better golf than anyone on tour since the start of last season. With that being said, Rory might have been hurt more than anyone on the tour by the postponement of the Masters due to Covid-19. He was at the top of his game, and after sitting around for an extended period of time without being able to play, who knows what it will do to his game.

From 2014-2018 Rory finished T8, 4, T10, T7, and T5 at Augusta before a T21 at last year’s event. He knows the course, as all PGA pros do, but he has never found that magical moment that so many others have at Augusta.

The good news for Rory, he will still get a chance to achieve the grand slam in 2020. With the Masters being pushed back until November, and the possible weather conditions being anything from snowy to sunny, what a moment it would be for Rory to complete the grand slam in what might be the only Masters ever played after the month of April.

Jordan Spieth- Needs the PGA Championship

There is no arguing it’s been tough sledding for Jordan the last couple years. But another thing you can’t argue is after the 2017 season, it looked like Jordan was a lock for the grand slam, the Hall of Fame, and becoming the next Tiger Woods. And even without winning since The Open in 2017, Jordan still sits one major, the PGA Championship, away from the grand slam.

During Jordan’s incredible 2015 season, he finished second at the PGA. Since then he has finished T13, T28, T12 in 2016-2018, and finished in a T3 in last season’s event, which was his best finish of the season.

This year’s PGA Championship is scheduled to be played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, a course Spieth has played before. The 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play event was held at the course, and Spieth was in the field. Spieth was the number two seed of the entire event and was able to beat Mikko Ilonen and Matt Every in his group before falling to Lee Westwood in the third match, which ended his tournament.

However, the multiple week shutdown could affect Spieth in a completely different way than it has Rory. It is possible the layoff has allowed Jordan to work on some things in his game, as well as the mental aspect, and come back a better version than we last saw. Just as Rory has the opportunity to make a moment, what a return to form it would be if Jordan could win his first event since 2017, at the year’s first major championship. Derailing Brooks Koepka’s historic attempt at a PGA Championship three-peat would just be a little bit of icing of the grand slam cake for Jordan.

Brooks Koepka- Needs the Masters and The Open

Since I just mentioned Brooks, why not get to him now? And yes, I know I am putting Brooks in front of another legend who is only missing one major, but we will get to that later. It’s time to talk about the dominant force that is Brooks Koepka.

Brooks is the ultimate prime-time player. When the lights come on, Brooks is ready. In his seven PGA Tour wins, four of them are majors, and one is a WGC event. Unfortunately for the hopes of the grand slam, out of Brooks’ four major wins, he has won both the PGA and U.S. Open twice.

If his finishes in last year’s majors are any indication of what is to come, Brooks might get the grand slam before either Rory or Jordan. His worst finish in any of the major’s last season was a T4 at The Open. He finished T2 at the U.S. Open and the Masters and won the PGA Championship. However, his T2 at the Masters was his first career finish inside the top 10 at Augusta, but it was only his fourth start at the event. As for The Open, Brooks has racked up three top ten’s in his six starts.

Obviously, Brooks won’t have the opportunity to complete the grand slam this season, due to the cancellation of The Open, but he will have the chance to knock the Masters off his list. And what should be noted, I said earlier Rory McIlroy has played the best golf of anyone since the start of 2019, and I believe that to be true, but the only player you can make a case against Rory for, is Brooks. The edge goes to Rory due to his play in all other events that aren’t majors, but there is an argument to be made for Brooks.

Phil Mickelson- Needs the U.S. Open

I love Phil. I mean, who doesn’t love Phil. But we live in the real world, and the possibility that Phil Mickelson will finish in solo or tie for second place in the U.S. Open six times and not win is extremely sad and extremely true.

He’s had his chances. Phil has played in the U.S. Open 28 times and has only missed the event two times since 1990. Many people thought his last, and maybe best chance to finally win the event was last year at Pebble Beach, a course he has won at on five different occasions at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. However, that wasn’t the case as Mickelson ended in a tie for 52nd.

The question many golf fans have is will we ever see Phil compete in the U.S. Open again. Phil has already stated he will not take an exemption into the U.S. Open, as he wants to qualify for the event on his own. Although there are multiple ways to qualify for the event, Phil only has one option, getting into the top 60 in the World Golf Ranking. And as if all the second-place finishes aren’t heartbreaking enough, Phil is currently 61st in the rankings.

If there was no shutdown, and the world was running as normal, Phil would have had a great chance to jump up at least one spot in the rankings before the event. And as most golf fans know, the 2020 U.S. Open will take place at Winged Foot, the same location as 2006, where Phil had a two-stroke lead with three holes to play, needing only a par on the 18th to win. Phil would double-bogey 18, completing one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Just imagine this – Phil jumps a spot in the world golf rankings before the U.S. Open, makes the cut, sinks a championship securing putt on 18 like he imagined he would in 2006, and secures the career grand slam. With everything negative going on in the world, can’t the golf gods throw us a bone, just this once?

Zach Johnson- Needs the U.S. Open and PGA Championship

Although this is a very outside chance, it is still a chance. Zach is one of only three active players to be missing two majors, Brooks and Martin Kaymer are the others. Martin Kaymer doesn’t crack this list because as it stands right now he isn’t qualified for the Masters or The Open, both of the events he hasn’t won. However, Johnson is qualified for both the majors he’s missing, the PGA and the U.S. Open.

Now yes, I know Johnson’s last win was The Open back in 2015, but that isn’t for a lack of trying. From 2016-2018 Johnson played in over 23 official events in all three years. In 2019 he played in 19 official events and has already played in 10 events in 2020. To go along with the number of starts, since becoming the 2015 champion golfer of the year, Johnson has started in every major since then, and there is no reason to believe he won’t start in all three majors in 2020.

Since The Open is the only major that has been canceled in 2020, Johnson will start in both of the major’s he’s missing before the end of the year.

Do I foresee Johnson shocking the world and winning one of the major’s this year? No. Could It happen? Yes. No matter if Johnson wins another major, or even another event, he’s had a career most people would kill to have and deserves some love.

There it is, five players who, at least, have an outside chance to achieve the career grand slam. When it comes to Rory and Jordan, I would give them both a “pretty good” chance at achieving golf immortality. With Rory turning 31 today (happy birthday by the way), and Jordan turning 27 in July, both men will have 10-15 more chances to win the event they need. I love those odds.

I would give Brooks a “good” chance to win both majors he needs, but as great as Brooks is in the clutch, it’s still two majors. Most people never even win one. Brooks turned 30 yesterday, giving him another 10-15 chances at both events. I like those odds, but don’t love them.

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For Phil and Zach, I hate to say it, but I don’t think it’s happening. As discussed above, Phil might not even get one last shot. Depending on what happens when the PGA Tour is scheduled to return in a couple of weeks, Phil needs a few good finishes to even get to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open, let alone win it. I would absolutely love to see the lefty win the all allusive U.S. Open, I just don’t think it’s in the cards. But I would love to be wrong.