News & Opinion

Grand Slam debate: Spieth or McIlroy?

There probably isn’t enough beer and pretzels on the planet to settle the argument in golf’s global sports bars, or enough virtual ink in chatrooms and hot-take portals such as Twitter.

However, for some golf fans who feel fervently enough about the newly charged race to complete the career Grand Slam, there now is a way to put your money where your mouth is.

A betting website in Europe, Betvictor.com, has just posted a new betting line on the battle between former world No. 1s Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to pick up the final leg of the career slam. Who will get there first?

In terms of opportunity, Spieth moved to the front of the line Sunday when he picked up the British Open title, completing his personal third leg of the quest. McIlroy has been seeking the fourth piece of the puzzle since April 2015, but he hasn’t won his missing major in three tries at the Masters.

Betvictor has set Spieth at 4-6 and McIlroy at 11-10. For those unfamiliar with how betting lines work, that means a $100 wager on Spieth would earn $66.67, for a return of $167. A bet of $100 on McIlroy would win $110, for a return of $210. 

In other words, Spieth has the edge – and the pole position. To complete his personal slam set, Spieth needs only to win the PGA Championship, set for Aug. 10-13 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. 

There’s no line posted on the duo’s race to history in Las Vegas, and likely never will be. Longtime golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman, perhaps the most famous line-setter in the game, said there’s a reason behind the thinking.

“We don’t offer odds on events that can have an open end date,” said Sherman, who works at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “It could potentially never happen.”

Based on the arc of their careers, it seems darned likely that it will occur, and perhaps for both players. But who will get to the line first?

Both players are seeking to add their names to an elite list: Only Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods have won all four majors. (In the pre-Masters era, career amateur Bobby Jones won the four biggest golf titles of his day: U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open, British Amateur and British Open.)

Spieth has won his last two starts in wire-to-wire fashion, yet there’s a key caveat relating to the final major of the year. Of the five players to win the career slam, none of them completed the foursome by winning the PGA Championship as the last leg.

McIlroy could block Spieth’s short-term path, too, at least until the Northern Irishman gets his next chance to complete his so-called Shamrock Slam in April. McIlroy won his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow Club in 2010, and he won again at the Charlotte club in 2015.

So, who’s your pick?

Steve Elling has covered golf for the Orlando Sentinel, CBSSports.com and numerous other global print and online outlets. Email: ellingink@gmail.com; Twitter: @EllingYelling