StatsAugust 10, 2015

Why Jordan Spieth has a legitimate chance at having the best major championship season ever

Jordan Spieth's Grand Slam hopes died at the British Open, but his close call at St. Andrews actually put him one step closer to being able to claim the best major championship season ever.

To stay in the conversation, Spieth would have to capture the year's final major, the PGA Championship, to match Tiger Woods (2000) and Ben Hogan (1953) as the only golfers to win three professional majors in the same year. But if he's able to win at Whistling Straits, there's a good chance he'll also be able to boast the all-time lowest cumulative score for four majors in one season.

Tiger Woods currently holds the mark with his 1,095 total in 2000, when he finished fifth at the Masters and then won the season's final three majors. That put Woods at a staggering 53 under par for the four biggest events that year.

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So far in 2015, Spieth is 37 under par at the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. Shooting 17 under at Whistling Straits to get to 54 under overall would be an extremely tough task, but Spieth only needs to get to 12 under (276) to match Tiger's 1,095 total. Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson both posted 11-under 277 totals at the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits.

Related: Golf's all-time greatest seasons

Obviously, it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison with different eras and different venues. And of course, when discussing the greatest seasons ever, it's always important to point out that Hogan didn't play in the 1953 PGA Championship. Also, the four majors have been stroke-play events since 1958 (the PGA was previously match play).

Although having the lowest cumulative score at the year's four majors is impressive, it's not always an indication of a player winning golf's biggest events. Last year, Rickie Fowler finished in the top five in all four majors and tied for the third-best total ever (1,108) -- and didn't win. He tied Phil Mickelson's mark from 2001, when again, he didn't win.

Louis Oosthuizen (23 under) and Justin Rose (20 under) are the top two candidates to be 2015's version of Fowler. Oosthuizen, runner-up in each of the last two majors, would need a 275 total at Whistling Straits to best Fowler and Mickelson's mark for the lowest season score without winning a major. Then again, you'd have to like Louis' chances of claiming the Wanamaker Trophy with that score.

As for debating the best season ever, if we use Woods' 2000 campaign as the barometer, Spieth's chances of matching Tiger are pretty much over unless he wins the PGA and then sweeps the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Woods played 20 events that year (the same number Spieth has played entering the PGA) and his nine wins crush Spieth's eight top-three finishes (four wins, three runner-ups and a third). Spieth has missed two cuts this year, while Woods was a perfect 20-for-20 in top-25 finishes and had four more (17) top 10s.

But a win at Whistling Straits would make Spieth part of an exclusive trio of players -- one that doesn't even include Jack Nicklaus -- with three majors in one season. There's no need to debate just how special of an accomplishment that would be.

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(h/t Justin Ray, Golf Channel)

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