Jordan Spieth has ensured grand slam hype runs extra hot this week by claiming his fourth victory of 2015 just four days out from the British Open.
The 21-year-old American prodigy will have the eyes of the world on him as he chases the third leg of golf’s fabled grand slam at St Andrews from Thursday.
The reigning Masters and US Open champion was criticised for staying in the US to play the John Deere Classic in Illinois rather than heading to Scotland early to tune up at the Scottish Open.
But he had no regrets after winning it in a playoff against Tom Gillis at the second extra hole on Sunday after they’d tied at 20-under-par 264.
“I really didn’t care anyways. I came here for a reason, and we accomplished that reason,” Spieth said after reclaiming a title he won in 2013 when he became the first teen to win on the US tour in 83 years.
World No.2 Spieth is the first golfer to win four times before the British Open since Tiger Woods in 2000 – the year Woods won his first British Open title by eight shots at St Andrews.
And he won’t have world No.1 Rory McIlroy to worry about at St Andrews after the Northern Irishman withdrew last week due to an ankle injury.
Spieth, the reigning Australian Open champion, started the John Deere Classic slowly and was eight shots back after the opening round.
“To be able to shoot 20-under in three rounds is nice momentum,” Spieth said.
“The finish, when I really didn’t feel like tee to green I had much (Sunday), gives me a lot of momentum to draw on if I don’t have my best stuff.”
While he outlasted the field, he accepted he had still some work to do in practice if he was to make it three majors in a row.
“I need to fine tune my driver. I love where my putter is at. My pace control, my speed is awesome right now,” Spieth said.
Gillis, 46, will have to console himself by claiming a spot in the British Open for the third time, having also competed in 1999 and 2008.
Former winner Zach Johnson fired a 65 and was joined in third place on 265 by last week’s Greenbrier Classic champion Danny Lee (67) of New Zealand.