Spieth goes for a hat trick


By Doug Ferguson - AP Golf Writer



AKRON — Jordan Spieth will get his first crack at the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship.

For now, he goes after a hat trick.

With so much attention on Spieth’s victory in the British Open and the prospect of the 24-year-old Texan becoming the youngest player to have all four majors, it’s easy to overlook that he hasn’t lost a tournament in six weeks.

OK, he’s only played twice since then, but he won them both. His playoff victory in the Travelers Championship was famous for his bunker shot and body bump with his caddie. And then at Royal Birkdale, he won with a bogey from the driving range , a near ace and a 50-foot eagle putt .

Next up is the Bridgestone Invitational in a busy week for golf.

This will be the third time Spieth has a shot at three straight victories. He won the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge at the end of 2014 (and tied for seventh in the Phoenix Open to start the next year). He won the U.S. Open and John Deere Classic in 2015, only to miss a playoff at the British Open by one shot.

The Bridgestone Invitational won’t be easy. It’s a 7,400-yard course that plays to a par 70. Three of the last four champions are Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Spieth tied for third last year, but only because he closed with a 67 to make up ground late in the tournament.

The rest of the PGA Tour that isn’t eligible for the World Golf Championship are in the high altitude of Reno, Nevada, for the Barracuda Championship. The best women in the world are in Scotland for the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns. And the biggest star is at the Web.com Tour event in California. That would be Stephen Curry, playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

Bridgestone Invitational

Two players are claiming to be the defending champion at Firestone.

McIlroy won in 2014 , two weeks after he won the British Open, by overcoming Sergio Garcia in the final round. McIlroy missed the following year when he injured his ankle playing soccer, and he didn’t play last year because the Bridgestone Invitational was opposite the French Open during a crammed summer built around the Olympics.

Johnson is the real defending champion , two weeks after he won the U.S. Open, and it was a familiar tale. He trailed Jason Day only for the Australian to crumble in the trees and water down the stretch.

Johnson posed Wednesday with all four World Golf Championships trophies. He is the only player with a Grand Slam of WGCs. For now, that will have to do.

Spieth, meanwhile, has never won a WGC event. It won’t be long before some wag refers to him as the best to have never won a World Golf Championship.

By Doug Ferguson

AP Golf Writer