Jordan Spieth likes his golf betting odds of winning golf’s Grand Slam, but science and hocus-pocus are stacked against the newly crowned U.S. Open victor doing what the modern legends of the game have never achieved.
Neil Paine at fivethirtyeight.com ran the numbers and they just don’t add up to Spieth sweeping the British Open and PGA Championship to wrap up the calendar slam.
“No matter how you cut it, the odds of Spieth finishing off the Grand Slam are still fairly low — about 1 percent, if the probabilities … are any kind of guide,” Paine wrote on Monday after Spieth became just the fourth player since 1958 to win the season’s first two majors and won back-to-back grand slam events for just the 13th time.
Taking a Quick Look at the Golf Betting Odds on Jordan Spieth for the 2015 Grand Slam
Predicted Golf Betting Lines for Spieth
Sure, crunching the data is one way to go if you’re into prognosticating about whether the world’s second-ranked golfer will lift the Claret Jug next month and the Wanamaker Trophy in August. A less reliable but truly time-tested barometer of Spieth’s Grand Slam fortunes, though, may be the supposed curse cast over Sports Illustrated cover boys and girls.
Golf’s new Golden Child makes a return appearance to the front of sports’ most popular magazine. Spieth earned his first SI cover in April, the week after he won the Masters. His U.S. Open-winning form, set for the June 29 issue, will mark the second time the publication has featured a golfer on the jacket since Rory McIlroy won the 2014 British Open.
Those who believe in the SI cover jinx point to several instances, including the few below, where bad luck dogged athletes after they struck poses for the publication:
*A week after SI spotlighted Lee Trevino as the face of its 1969 U.S. Open preview, the tournament’s defending champion missed the cut.
*Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez topped SI’s 2000 baseball preview edition that predicted Boston would win the the World Series. Of course, the hated Yankees won instead.
*BoSox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra showed off his newly pumped-up physique on the March 5, 2001, cover five days before the team announced he had a split tendon in his wrist.
*Then there was that April 8, 2013, issue that trumpeted “Back” over a photo of Tiger Woods gazing down a fairway, supposedly dreaming of winning his fifth green jacket.
In 2002, SI examined the covers of more than 2,400 covers from its first issue in 1954 and found that some 37 percent of those featured experienced declines in performance, injuries, or some other types of bad luck. Sports psychologists believed jocks being unaccustomed to the increased expectations that came from SI cover attention contributed to the results, though Spieth seems to have dealt with the hoopla rather well up to now.
Speaking of the cover jinx — the second time McIlroy graced the top of SI, it was to hype his opportunity to complete the career grand slam at the 2015 Masters. How’d that work out?