PGA Championship 2018: Jordan Spieth aims to get back into weekend contention

Jordan Spieth can become the youngest golfer since Tiger Woods to complete his career Grand Slam this week at the PGA Championship.

With three major championship wins in hand at 25 years old, Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to complete his set.

But Spieth has struggled this season, finishing in the top 3 only once, while failing to record a win or runner-up finish. In a lot of ways, the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis could save his season.

“Getting into position to have a chance on Sunday, that’s been a rare case for me this year,” Spieth said Tuesday at his pre-tournament press conference. “So a situation like The Open, where I was really patient the first few rounds, kind of let it come to me. This course will play softer and longer than the other majors this year. And then with big, flat greens, lag putting is going to be key.

“So just trying to stay in every hole, limit the big numbers, limit — try and not make bogey or worse score and then obviously run some putts in from mid-range will be the key.”

Spieth had a chance to win the British Open, playing in the final group, but he struggled Sunday, ultimately watching as Francesco Molinari was crowned champion.

“I really thought — I felt good going into the round,” Spieth said of the final round at Carnoustie. “I actually felt as comfortable as I ever have on a major championship Sunday. I liked where my ball striking was. I liked the progression in the putting, and I just — that I needed to get through the first probably eight holes at even par as we played into the breeze there and then be able to turn around and shoot 1 or 2 under on the back, and 5 and 6 really hurt off of shots that I could control.

“So just two bad swings that kind of put me from controlling my own destiny to having to come from behind. So certainly learned from it.”

With all the rain in the St. Louis area over the last couple of days, Spieth believes Bellerive could be an interesting test this week.

“I played 18 holes (Monday). It’s a good golf course,” he said. “The rough’s a little interesting to me. They mowed down grain for a couple yards and then into the grain and then down grain and then into the grain. I’m not sure if it was for aesthetics or what, but that make it a bit luck-based when you hit the ball into the  rough. But the course itself has a lot of — it has a great mix of longer and shorter holes that dogleg both directions. You got to hit different clubs off the tee, different shots into the greens, and I don’t think it necessarily favors any one kind of player.

“I think, if I’m not mistaken, in 2008, when the PGA Tour came here, there were a mix of long hitters and short hitters that were all in contention. So even though it’s going to be softer and wet, it’s got the potential for I think anybody to work their way up the board.”

Spieth certainly hopes to capture the career Grand Slam, but he feels less pressure about the feat this year than last year at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.

“I think I was probably a little more anxious last year,” Spieth said regarding the career Grand Slam. “I think, going in, there was a big focus on it, given it was right after The Open Championship, after winning The Open Championship, so it was fresh, I was in form, and going to a place that, if I worked up the leaderboard, it would create a lot of noise. I feel somewhat under the radar this year. I’ve kind of felt that way a lot this year, I don’t mind it.

“But at the same time, this tournament will always be circled until I’m able to hopefully win it someday. It will always be circled to complete the career Grand Slam, which will ultimately achieve a lifelong goal for me. So certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee, just more going into the week.”