Jordan Spieth suffers injury in bid for grand slam as US PGA returns to Oak Hill
For the second major in succession, membership of golf’s most elite club is up for grabs as the US PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill Country Club for the first time since 2013.
Yet if any reminders were needed of how difficult it was to complete a career grand slam, the events of the last few weeks have provided plenty.
First was Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Masters as he sought to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four major titles, the Northern Irishman missing the cut in dispiriting fashion after a second round of 77.
Then there was Jon Rahm’s victory at Augusta National, the Spaniard indicating he could be the man to beat going forward after claiming a second major title by four shots, despite starting the week by four-putting the first hole.
And finally came the news that Jordan Spieth, who needs to win the US PGA to complete the grand slam, is suffering from an untimely wrist injury which forced him to withdraw from the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Spieth’s best result in the US PGA is second behind Jason Day in 2015, the year he won the Masters and US Open and missed out on a play-off in the Open Championship by a single shot, while he was also a somewhat distant third to Brooks Koepka in 2019.
A subsequent loss of form ended with victory in the Valero Texas Open the week before finishing third in the 2021 Masters, with Spieth also battling Collin Morikawa for the Open title at Royal St George’s three months later.
After missing the cut in the Masters for the first time in his career in 2022, Spieth bounced back to win the RBC Heritage the following week and this year finished fourth in the Masters thanks to a closing 66.
Seven days later, Spieth lost to US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off for the RBC Heritage and looked to be in ideal shape for the US PGA, but with his participation in serious jeopardy and Tiger Woods also ruled out through injury, attention may once again turn to McIlroy.
McIlroy is a member at Oak Hill – his wife Erica is from the area – and was the defending champion when it last staged the US PGA a decade ago, with Jason Dufner shooting 10 under par to win by two shots from Jim Furyk.
The East Course has been significantly renovated since then to better reflect the original Donald Ross design, with all of the greens and bunkers rebuilt and hundreds of trees removed.
The old sixth hole has been replaced by a shorter par three which now slots in as the fifth, with the fifth becoming the sixth hole on the card and lengthened to 504 yards.
The par-three 15th also has an entirely different green that has been repositioned and is no longer guarded by a pond, changes that have met with McIlroy’s approval.
“I think Andrew Green’s done a really good job,” he said. “I think the renovation has hopefully restored the East Course back to its former glory.
“From the last time I was there, or we were all there (in 2013), my connection to Rochester’s got a lot stronger. I’m excited to go and play a major championship in what feels almost like a second home to me.”