Spieth’s 76 at PGA puts Grand Slam out of reach

  • Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
  • Covered golf for more than 20 years
  • Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University

SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Spieth’s quest to achieve the career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship was over well before his early Saturday tee time with Justin Thomas.

It was probably done on Thursday when he shot an opening-round 73 at Harding Park and needed to rally with a 68 on Friday just to make the cut on the number, which saw him get a tee time with his longtime rival and friend.

And all it took was six holes on Saturday to once again show how much the two players have gone in different directions since the last of Spieth’s 11 PGA Tour victories occurred three years ago at The Open.

Spieth played them in 4 over; Thomas in 4 under.

In the end, Spieth shot 76 to plummet to the bottom of the leaderboard. Thomas had what he called a frustrating 68, one that he felt should have been lower and put him in contention to challenge for a second major title on Sunday.

Thomas is concerned with his own game, and has plenty to keep his mind occupied. But surely he noticed the struggles of the guy playing alongside him, the one who took the PGA Tour on full steam while Thomas languished without the same success. And it made the career Grand Slam talk seem a bit silly given Spieth’s struggles, which have seen him drop outside of the top 60 in the world.

“Well, I think he wants to win any tournament,” Thomas said. “I’m not saying this in a disrespectful way, but you guys probably think he wants to win it [the PGA] more than he does, you know what I mean? He wants to win any tournament like all of us do, and especially you want to win any major, this one is always going to be put on more of a pedestal than the other ones for him.

“I know he’s going to be fine. I’m not just saying it because he’s one of my best friends. I’ve just seen him get it around when he’s not playing well. I’ve seen him play well when he is playing well. All of us go through little spurts. It’s just for him, this has been a tough one. He’s going to be fine.”

While Thomas spoke, Spieth had already made his way to the driving range. He spent considerable time there with caddie Michael Greller after his round on Thursday. There has been a lot of searching for months on end without results. Spieth’s last top-three finish came at the PGA Championship in May of 2019.

“All it takes sometimes is one week and all your confidence gets back,” Thomas said. “I think Brooks [Koepka] kind of spoke on that a little bit, but he just found something last week and obviously he’s playing well again this week. So that’s golf.”

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