Jordan Spieth’s keys to unlock the Grand Slam this year will be driving at St. Andrews and approach shots and scrambling around the greens at Whistling Straits.
That’s according to how the last two major winners at each of those courses fared during their victorious weeks.
Here’s how Spieth ranks overall in those categories after his win last week in the U.S. Open. He’s T69 in driving distance on Tour (291.1) and 80th in driving accuracy (62.62). He’s also sixth in scrambling (65.23) and T47 in GIR (67.78).
Let’s look at the numbers to see just how much driving and scrambling helped the most recent winners at St. Andrews and Whistling Straits.
At the 2010 British Open, the most recent one played at the Old Course, Louis Oosthuizen ranked first in driving accuracy percentage (85.94 percent) and fourth in driving distance (319.4 yards) en route to crushing the field by seven shots and lifting the Claret Jug.
Staying out of trouble off the tee was also key for the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews. Tiger Woods, winning his second straight major at the Old Course, ranked first in driving distance that week (341.5) and was T9 in driving accuracy (73.44). Further proving the importance of the tee ball, runner-up Colin Montgomerie was second in driving distance (319.8) and third in driving accuracy (78.13).
In his two previous British Open appearances—a T36 last year at Royal Liverpool and T44 in 2013 at Muirfield—Spieth has never finished better than T45 in driving distance or accuracy.
Whistling Straits history shows Spieth will need to take dead aim at the greens. The last two PGA Championship winners at Herb Kohler’s Wisconsin resort—Martin Kaymer in 2010 and Vijay Singh in 2004—both finished in the top six in greens in regulation. Kaymer was also third in scrambling (75.0). Of the top seven finishers that year, five of them were T12 in that category or better.
One point to remember:
Spieth is right there with his GIR and scrambling percentages, but his driving distance and accuracy numbers aren’t as good as what the past winners have done on those courses.
But here’s one thing to consider: He was 44th in driving distance at the Masters this year and T20 in driving accuracy. He made up for that in GIR (T2) and scrambling (T10). The same can be said about his U.S. Open win. Despite ranking 59th in driving distance and T68 in driving accuracy, he was T5 in GIR and second in scrambling.
He’s halfway to the Slam. We will find out how much further he can go very soon.