CBS is bringing every conceivable electronic viewing option to this year’s PGA Championship, and there’s a chance it could record Jordan Spieth’s career Grand Slam.
While much of the attention for this year’s PGA is, naturally and deservedly, on Scottie Scheffler, winner of this year’s Masters, Spieth won the following week at Harbour Town Golf Links where he uttered what may, one day, become a famous quote: “I won without a putter.”
CBS’s Colt Knost sees Jordan Spieth at golf courses in Dallas where they both live. He was the perfect person to ask about the state of Spieth’s game.
“I think his game’s in pretty good shape. He won his last start over in Hilton Head,” Knost said. “I think, for Jordan, the one question is, he hasn’t putted the way he did back in 2015 when he was winning majors at a crazy, crazy clip, but the game’s trending.”
Knost noted that Spieth’s swing looked interesting.
“I’m not quite sure what the rehearsal is still, but he’s hitting it, honestly, probably better than he ever has,” Knost added.
Jordan Spieth has already made a scouting trip to see Southern Hills and said, in his pre-tournament interview for the AT&T Byron Nelson, that he loved it.
“The greens play maybe three quarters of the size that they actually are,” he explained. “There’s a lot more runoffs than I remember, into Bermuda chipping areas and into runoff areas that are mowed. So, you can be left with a lot of really delicate little shots.”
When asked about Spieth, CBS’s Sir Nick Faldo also mentioned the victory at Hilton Head.
“A lot of things trending for him to get a win and when the putter was probably the worst in the field,” Faldo suggested. “The scrambling was so good, we talk about that a lot, and that keeps your momentum going. With a major set up, that’s a really key part of your game.”
Faldo noted that having a great short game can free a player’s mind off the tee, knowing he can get up and down from nearly anywhere. Spieth has certainly done that in his career.
Dottie Pepper immediately repeated Jordan Spieth’s line at Hilton Head: I won without a putter.
“It shows you how talented he is and how much his ball striking has improved,” she said, adding that he was the kind of player who always had a chance. “It can take him three to get to the green and still hole out for par. It doesn’t seem to matter with that guy.”
The big picture man at CBS is always Jim Nantz, and he didn’t fail on that score.
“I like the way he’s coming in to this,” Nantz explained about Spieth. “He’s not the lead story going for the career slam. I think this is kind of an ideal setup for him to go finish it off.”
To be clear, he didn’t make that prediction. He just said it was a good setup.
Nantz also had some good trivia to share. He explained that Southern Hills has hosted many major championships and big tournaments. In each one of them, the 36-hole leader has never lost. Something to remember when placing bets.
None of the CBS crew mentioned Jordan Spieth’s affinity for grainy Bermuda grass, but it’s likely something they know. Certainly, Knost is aware of that.
The important thing about Southern Hills, and it’s something they did not mention, is that — unless Gil Hanse’s renovations have changed the corridors of the golf course — there are a lot of sharp angles that have to be obeyed. It’s one reason a shorter hitter like Nick Price could win there, which he did in 1994, to capture his second PGA. And those interesting angles may just frustrate the really long hitters who might have to throttle back a little like Tiger Woods in 2007.
The course itself has been lengthened to 7556 yards, which is even more challenging when you find out that it’s a par 70.
The 104th PGA Championship could be Jordan Spieth’s best chance at the career Grand Slam.
Jordan Spieth won’t get another chance to play on his favorite grainy Bermuda surfaces in a PGA Championship until 2027, so hopefully, he’s got a big circle on his calendar for this year. It could be his best chance, in terms of turf, for the next five years.
Of equal importance, when asked what he worked on in his time away from tournament golf after winning at Hilton Head, he said “putting.”
To remind everyone, the modern career Grand Slam is winning the Masters, the PGA, the U.S. Open, and the British Open. Spieth is missing only the PGA. But he’s not alone. Arnold Palmer, for all his victories, could not win the PGA. Tom Watson, he of the five British Opens, suffered a similar fate. As good as they were, the PGA eluded them and kept them out of that elite circle of golfers who have achieved what is surely a pinnacle in any golfer’s life.
Those who have won the career Grand Slam are Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods. Out of all of the golfers who have played golf since it was popularized in the late 1880s, just those five have been able to achieve it. Of course, Nicklaus and Woods have multiple slams, which is another story altogether.
Jordan Spieth has a chance, at least, to accomplish something really special.
“If he gets the putter going, I expect him to be a factor come Sunday afternoon,” Knost said. “There is still that pressure of playing, trying to complete that career grand slam. I know that’s on his mind.”
Some of the CBS Technology for the PGA Championship includes:
· Live Drone Coverage
· Putting Analysis
· Wind Analysis
· Robotic Camera Bunker 17th hole
· Fly Cam
· EyeVision 2.0 16th hole tee box
· Atlas Camera
· Toptracer RF – on course shots
· ARL Virtual Eye