Golf’s greats gushed over the final day heroics of Jordan Spieth at the Open – and predicted it’s inevitable he will claim the sport’s grand slam.
Gary Player, Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer – who have picked up 20 major crowns between them – believe it’s only a matter of time before the 23-year-old wins the PGA Championship and gets his name on all four trophies.
After taking an unplayable and hitting a shot from the practice ground on the 13th during the final round, Spieth limited the damage to a bogey and then tore round the final five holes.
A run that went: birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par gave him a three shot victory over Matt Kuchar and the third leg of the career grand slam following his wins in the Masters and US Open in 2015.
Player, hosting a pro-am that has raised millions for charity and attracted star names such as European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, Branden Grace and Padraig Harrington, said: “I can’t tell you how I admire this young man. He’ll go ahead and win the grand slam, I have no doubt about it.
“Anyone who can putt like that is destined to have greatness. This was my 62nd appearance at the Open and I’ve never seen anything like that. He was playing so poorly and only hit three fairways.
“At 13, when he hit it over there, I thought he was gone. He made a remarkable five. At that stage, he was going.”
Couples, who won the Masters 25 years ago, added: “I know him pretty well and I text him a lot. He’s a very kind guy.
“It’s unlike anything, really, I have ever seen.”
He continued: “If Jordan Spieth had Rory’s length, or Rory had Jordan’s wedge game, they would be the next Tiger Woods. But they all do it their own way.”
Watson, whose last of five Open victories came at Birkdale in 1983, had tipped Spieth to prevail over the weekend and had spoken of his maturity.
Asked to sum up the young American’s heroics, he said: “He’s mature beyond his years. I tweeted (him) and said ‘you’ve just gone down in golf’s history book yesterday for what you accomplished’.
“Those are the things that people watch sport for. It’s what you all watch, and want to be around sport for – to see something like that.
“You expected the wheels to continue to fall off like they did at the Masters for him. He was thinking about it on the golf course.
“When he makes the putt at 13, and he’s still just one shot behind, I am sure his caddie said ‘come on, you’re one shot behind. Come on, let’s kick it into gear’.
“And he almost makes a one at 14. It was off to the races after that. That lit the fuse for him. It was remarkable and I like the young man a lot.
“He’s destined to win the grand slam. He’s destined to win the PGA and a lot more tournaments.”
Langer, meanwhile, praised Spieth’s exceptional putting.
“Jordan has a very old head on young shoulders. He’s extremely impressive as a person, for his age, and I wholeheartedly agree that he will go a long way. If you can putt like that you just need a mediocre to decent long game and you will go a long way.”