Jordan Spieth’s win at the John Deere Classic Sunday was almost an afterthought to the fact that he is flirting with the most massive of history this week at The Open Championship – a shot to be the first man in 62 years to win the first three Majors of the year.
Spieth has never played St. Andrew’s, but does that matter? He and his caddie seem to be slicing and dicing through every course presented them, as predicated by his four wins and 11 top finishes in 19 events.
So who are the men who have won three Majors to start the year, and who are the ones who won two and then failed? Here’s a breakdown of the previous attempts; which didn’t even become possible until the first Masters in 1934.
1941: Craig Wood. Won the Masters and the US Open, but the Open Championship was not held because of World War II. Vic Ghezzi won the PGA Championship later that year, and Wood never won another Major.
1951: Ben Hogan. Yep, before he made history, he almost made history. Hogan won the Masters by two strokes with an 8-under 280, and ran away with the US Open by six strokes. But he didn’t win The Open Championship for the simple fact that he didn’t enter it, something that was par for the course – he only entered the field once.
1953: Hogan. Hard to top Hogan’s track record in The Open Championship. 1 entry, 1 title. But first he set the record for the lowest score at the Masters with a 14-under 70-69-66-69 – 274. His win at the US Open was just as dominant, a six-shot win with a 5-under 283. At The Open Championship, he was tied for the lead after three rounds, then fired a 68 in the final round to win by four strokes over a quartet of contenders.
1960: Arnold Palmer. Palmer was 30 with one Masters’ win under his belt at the start of the 1960 season, and matched that by birdying his last two holes to win by one stroke. At the US Open, he rallied from seven strokes down in the final round to win his only US Open. He was three strokes down after one round and seven behind Argetina’s Roberto De Vicenzo at The Open Championship through two rounds. He cut that lead to four after 54 hoels and his final-round 68 was close, but no cigar, as he finished one stroke behind Australia’s Kel Nagle.
1972: Jack Nicklaus. He already had nine Majors by the start of the 1972 season, but remarkably never even two in a row. But he had already won the 1971 PGA Championship, and made it two straight when he took The Masters by three strokes, following by a three-stroke win at the US Open for three straight Majors, just not all in the same year. He made as good a run as any man has at three straight, losing The Open Championship by one stroke to Lee Trevino.
2002: Tiger Woods. He’d already won four straight in 2000-2001, the only man to ever do so, but the 1-2-3 punch eluded Woods. He won The Masters by three strokes over Retief Goosen, and by three strokes at the US Open, the only player under par. Through two rounds at The Open, he was 4-under, two strokes behind in a crowded field, but he suffered an absolute meltdown in the third round, shooting a career-worst 81. He rallied with a 65 on Sunday, but it wasn’t nearly enough as he finished tied for 28th at even-par.