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Tiger Woods bullish about Grand Slam possibility

Tiger Woods, refreshed after a five-week break from tournament golf, sounded an ominous warning to his rivals on Wednesday about his prospects of achieving a sweep of this year's majors.

The world number one, who will be bidding for a fourth successive victory at this week's Buick Invitational, described his chances of completing a calendar grand slam as "possible."

Although Woods became the first professional to hold all four majors at the same time by winning the 2001 U.S. Masters, he would dearly love to repeat the feat in a single season.

"For most of my career, I've won more than four tournaments per year and all I have to do is win the right four," the 13-times major champion told reporters at Torrey Pines.

"I've done those a few times and I think if you put it all together, have luck on your side and all the stars line up, it certainly is possible.

"A couple of years ago, I came within four shots of at least being in a playoff or winning in all four, so yeah, I think it is possible."

Earlier this month on his official Web site, Woods rated his chances of pulling off a calendar grand slam as "easily within reason."

Most fans would agree, especially given that the first two majors of the year are being held at venues where he has become a dominant figure.

Woods has triumphed four times in the Masters at Augusta National, while he has clinched five Buick Invitational titles at Torrey Pines where the U.S. Open will be held from June 12-15.

Thereafter, the Open will be played at Royal Birkdale in England from July 17-20 and the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills from August 7-10.

Woods, whose tournament schedule hinges on the majors, placed third at Birkdale when the Open championship was last staged there in 1998 and says he enjoyed Oakland Hills when he first played the course as an amateur at the 1996 U.S. Open.

"I didn't like the way I finished the first round," he added with a broad grin, referring to his tie for 82nd in his second U.S. Open appearance.

"But when we played there in the Ryder Cup (in 2004), I liked the golf course. Those greens are the key. You've just got to be able to place the ball on the greens properly and hopefully putt well that week."

Asked what a calendar grand slam would mean to him, Woods replied: "It would be doing it a different way than I had done before. Hopefully I get it done."

Despite taking a lengthy family break over Christmas and New Year with his wife Elin and seven-month-old daughter Sam Alexis, Woods is exuding confidence for his 2008 campaign.

"I feel good," said the 32-year-old American, whose eight victories worldwide last season included his 13th major at the PGA Championship.

"It was nice to actually get away from it for that little stretch and just shut it off. It was nice to be at home with Elin and Sam and to have fun."

Asked whether he had ever felt as confident going into a season, he replied: "Yeah. A few times."

He added with a smile: "I've had a few good ones in my career."

Woods is scheduled to tee off at 0900 local (1700 GMT) on the South Course at Torrey Pines in Thursday's opening round.


January 24, 2008

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