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Talk already of a Tiger Grand Slam in 2008

Although the 2008 PGA Tour is just one week old, speculation is mounting that Tiger Woods could achieve golf's holy grail by sweeping all four majors for a calendar grand slam.

Woods himself alluded to the possibility last week and most of his peers accept it is extremely foolhardy to rule anything out when the runaway world number one is concerned.

The feat has never been accomplished in the professional game but Woods came desperately close with his so-called "Tiger Slam" after winning the 2001 Masters.

His two-shot victory at Augusta National meant he held all four majors at the same time, following his wins at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship the previous year.

"I think it's easily within reason," Woods said of a possible calendar slam on his Web site.

Many of his fellow PGA Tour players agree.

"It's tough to do but he's done it," world number three Steve Stricker told reporters at last week's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. "Not all in one calendar year but he's had them all. It looks like it's possible.

"There's such a big difference between Tiger Woods and the rest. I got to see Tiger play quite a bit at the end of the year and I played with him again at the Target (World Challenge).

"I haven't seen anybody play like that, never. I think the world rankings got it about right. He's about double, isn't he, of the second-place guy?"

Woods, who has occupied top spot for a record 477 weeks, has 19.22 average rankings points, more than double that of world number two Phil Mickelson (8.55).

He clinched his 13th major title at the PGA Championship last August and totally outclassed his rivals by winning five times in his last six starts of the season.

Woods's caddie Steve Williams says he has never seen him strike the ball as well. Should he replicate that form in this year's four majors, that elusive calendar slam is there for the taking.

"The way he's playing right now is pretty spectacular," said Masters champion Zach Johnson. "A lot of guys can hit it like Tiger power-wise but mentally he's second to none. Tiger is on another level.

"If there is someone who comes along and they're kind of neck-and-neck and pushing him, Tiger then raises his game even further. The challenge is going to be there but it's going to be brief and he'll just keep going."

The argument is often made that a player needs more than a dose of good fortune in the way his game matches up to the major venues each year.

According to Stricker, that no longer applies to Woods who is already arguably the greatest player in history.

"I don't think courses are an issue for him any more," the 40-year-old Wisconsin native said. "I just think he'll find a way to get it done.

"He'll struggle through a couple of shots here and there but then find it real quick again. I always think he's capable of winning all four. I think it would be very difficult to do but, if anybody can, he's probably the guy to do it."

The only man to claim all four majors in a single season was American Bobby Jones, who completed the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" in 1930 by winning the amateur and open championships of both Britain and the United States.

Tiger Woods, long driven to be the best he can possibly be, aims to follow suit as a professional.


January 8, 2008

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