Jordan as in Spieth. If the 21-year-old American phenomenon lifts the trophy, he will become the first winner of golf's first three major tournaments of the year - the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open - since Ben Hogan in 1953.

If he also wins the PGA tournament next month in Wisconsin, Spieth will stand alone as the only man to win all four professional majors in one year, golf's fabled grand slam.

Until two weeks ago the Open, as it is referred to in Britain, promised the added allure of a Rory McIlroy-Spieth showdown.

McIlroy, 26, won the last two majors of 2014 before Spieth took the first two of 2015. But McIlroy injured his ankle playing soccer with friends and withdrew from the British Open. (Here's guessing he takes a break from soccer for, say, 25 years.)

But Jordan v History is good enough, because Britain's Open has dashed grand slam hopes before. In 1972 Jack Nicklaus won the Masters and U.S. Open, only to succumb in the British Open to Lee Trevino's miracle chip-in on the penultimate hole.

HORRIBLE 81

It was 30 years until anybody else started the British Open with the first two legs of the grand slam in their bag. In 2002 Tiger Woods arrived at Muirfield with a champion's momentum, but wind and rain struck the course just before his third-round tee time and he slumped to a horrible 81.

"I put myself right there in contention after two rounds," Woods reminisced on Tuesday. "Just happened to catch it (the weather) at the wrong time." In 2000-2001 Woods held all four major titles at once, but he did not win them in the same year.

As for Spieth, Woods says: "Obviously he's in great form. It's just a matter of going out there and executing his game plan." There are intriguing subplots surrounding Spieth's bid for golf immortality. One is the possible emergence of an unlikely winner like Louis Oosthuizen.

Five years ago the then-unheralded South African won the last Open played at St Andrews. This year he has played poorly in his two most recent tournaments but in last month's U.S. Open, Oosthuizen finished tied for second, just one stroke behind Spieth.

Oosthuizen carded 66-66-67 in the final three rounds on a tough links course (referring to mogul-marked ground that links land and sea) at Chambers Bay in Washington State. Had his opening round been a mediocre 75 instead of a woeful 77, Oosthuizen would have beaten Spieth.

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