Strength of US Open field suggests grand slam is not on, says Danny Willett

Sheffield's Danny Willett, pictured after his Masters victory at Augusta.
Sheffield's Danny Willett, pictured after his Masters victory at Augusta.
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YORKSHIRE’S Danny Willett is the only man capable of it this year, but admitted ahead of this week’s US Open that he does not expect anyone to complete a calendar grand slam.

Just two men have won three major championships in the same year, with Ben Hogan winning all three he played in 1953 only to be denied the chance of a grand slam due to a clash of dates.

Hogan won the Masters by five shots and the US Open by six, but with the US PGA Championship – then still a match play event – not finishing until July 7 in Michigan and the Open starting a day later, he opted to travel to Carnoustie and secured his only Open title by four shots.

In 2000, Tiger Woods won the US Open, Open Championship and US PGA before completing the ‘Tiger Slam’ in 2001 with victory in the Masters.

Jordan Spieth won the Masters and US Open last year and was just a shot outside the three-man play-off for the Open at St Andrews, as well as finishing runner-up in the US PGA.

“What Jordan did last year was awesome,” said Sheffield’s Willett, who took advantage of the American blowing a five-shot lead with nine holes to play to win the Masters at Augusta in April. “We’ve not seen that for a while, obviously since Tiger’s days.

“I am relatively surprised that no one has done it (the grand slam), but saying that, for the rest of the time that I’m going to be playing golf, I honestly can’t see it happening too much, just purely because of the strength and depth of the field.

“If Rosie (Justin Rose) is fit, it’s projected that all the world’s top 50 are going to play this week, which hasn’t happened that much over the last 10.

“You look at the strength of the field and it would be fantastic to even be somewhere thereabouts come Sunday. You have got to keep breaking it down. You can’t look at it as a whole. It’s just nice that we have got that chance. What comes of that you don’t really know.

“Hopefully come Sunday we’re somewhere there or thereabouts to give you that little bit of a feeling that, yeah, this is actually possible.

“I guess it’s easier a little bit in the sense that you’ve already won a major so you’re not trying to push massively hard. It’s just the things we try to tell ourselves, I guess, to distract from how big these occasions are when you’re at major championships and you compete and you’ve got chances to win.”

Willett will play the first two rounds alongside Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.