McIlroy’s the first cab off the potential Grand Slam rank in 2018 and heading into next month’s Masters, will be looking to secure an Augusta green jacket that would see him beat both Mickelson and Spieth into the most exclusive club in golf.
In fact, McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth are the only ‘active’ players competing at this stage who are eligible to qualify for the ‘Grand Slam Club’.
McIlroy will be heading to Augusta National in what will be a fourth attempt since capturing the 2015 Open Championship and again hoping to secure the only Major needed to join just five other golfers as Grand Slam winners.
Mickelson won the 2013 Open Championship and has yet to still secure a US Open title to also become a Grand Slam winner but at now 47-years of age, and also having finished runner-up in a US Open on no fewer than six occasions, his time is quickly running out.
In contrast, 24-year old Texas-born Spieth has many seasons on his side to win a PGA Championship that would give him Grand Slam status after having already won the Masters (2015), the US Open (2015) and also last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
And ahead of this week’s Valspar Championship that Spieth captured in 2015 to ignite his double Major winning season three years ago, the current World No 4 spoke of a desire to beat both McIlroy and Mickelson into the Grand Slam club that boasts Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.
“Rory has the best opportunity to win the Grand Slam, given the first Major this year is the Masters and he needs to win the Masters to become a Grand Slam champion,” said Spieth ahead of this week’s Valspar Championship in Florida.
“But it’s not like I have talked to Rory about it.
“I think the only thing I can think of going back would have been at the PGA when I joked about bringing the US Open Trophy into a Tuesday round at Whistling Straits with Phil. At the time I still had two more legs.
“I mean at this point with the way that Phil is playing and obviously the fire power that myself and Rory have, I think it’s just kind of a crap shoot on who can get it.
“Obviously it’s going to be hardest for me from right now given they have an opportunity before I do.”
McIlroy, who is contesting the Valspar Championship for a first occasion in his career, responded to Spieth’s comments saying: “Yes, I guess I’ve got the first chance, I got the first opportunity and it would be nice to do it.
“I mean it’s not that you’re thinking about it all the time but there’s three guys that have the chance to do it this year and yeah, I felt the first opportunity and not – I just want to win the tournament, not ahead of those guys or whatever, just the opportunity. It’s bragging rights.
“But, you know, good to see Phil win last week in Mexico as he’s been trending in the right direction.
“I said yesterday more people are talking about him going into this stage of the season because it seemed like he was flying under the radar a little bit so all that great golf that he played culminated in a win.
“Golf is really healthy at this point, the three of us looking for the Slam, Tiger coming back, Justin Thomas playing so well, DJ (Dustin Johnson) being the No. 1 player in the world, and Jon Rahm playing also so well.
“It’s good. I’m glad to be in the conversation.”