Masters winner Jordan Spieth showed signs of returning to form last week. Ralph Ellis says the American youngster has another edge as the second Major of the year approaches...
"If anybody can talk the world’s number two player through what it will take to deal with the ferocious winds that sometimes blow across Chambers Bay, then it is Greller. And that will give the youngster a vital edge."
There's one big question about Jordan Spieth as the US Open approaches - how will the record breaking Masters champion handle what is effectively a links course.
The 21-year-old phenomenon has grown up playing his golf on the classic American college circuit of perfectly manicured parkland courses, mostly in perfect weather. When he won at Augusta the sun was smiling on him as he compiled that magnificent series of four rounds to lead from gun to tape.
It was the sort of performance that, given his background, would normally make him ideally qualified for the second Major of the year. But this year it is different because the venue of the US Open is also so strikingly different.
Chambers Bay was a sand and gravel works until little more than a decade ago. It opened for business as a municipal golf course only in 2008. Sat with the magnificent Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, the fact it was still registered as a quarry while it was being built meant mountains of earth could be moved to help it resemble some of the historic courses around the English coasts.
So, as Joe Dyer spelled out on these pages recently, a track record at The Open is one of the essential parts of the CV when you are working out who to back when the world's top players arrive there next week.
That would tend to rule out Spieth. He has played in The Open only twice, and his record of tied for 44th place at Muirfield in 2013 then 36th at Royal Liverpool last year hardly encourages you to support him to be this year's US Open winner at his current price of 9.89/1.
But there's one crucial factor in his favour - and that is his caddy Michael Greller. Because guess where the former maths teacher, who quit his job to take Spieth on tour, first carried bags as a part-timer? At Chambers Bay.
When the course opened, Greller was one of the first to pick up some part-time work to supplement his teaching income by doing some caddying there. That was how he eventually came to carry the bag for Spieth when the course was chosen for the 2010 US Amateur championships. And it was where their relationship began to develop.
So if anybody can talk the world's number two player through what it will take to deal with the ferocious winds that sometimes blow across Chambers Bay, then it is Greller. And that will give the youngster a vital edge.
Spieth's game took an inevitable dip after his achievements at Augusta, but it is moving back into gear at just the right time. His final round 65 at The Memorial was a reminder of his instinctive ball-striking qualities. It was also his 12th round of par or better in a row after missing the cut at The Players Championship.
He is heading for Chambers Bay with his game in good shape, knowing the areas that need a little bit of polishing up, and with the perfect guide to tell him what to work on.
Nobody since Tiger Woods in 2002 has followed up a Masters win by taking the US Open too - but if anybody can do it, Spieth can. He's got the inside knowledge to do the job.
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