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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Tiger's Grand Slam ambition
Golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the 1994 Masters
Nicklaus and Palmer both fell short of the Grand Slam

If it was anybody else you would dismiss talk of Grand Slams at this stage of the season as a particularly unwise case of premature chicken-counting.

But as it is Tiger Woods we are talking about it is inevitable that with the Masters already in the bag we automatically want to raise the bar by thinking about winning all four majors in a single season.

Woods, of course, has already achieved a Grand Slam of sorts - a Tiger Slam, perhaps - when he won four straight majors between the 2000 US Open and 2001 Masters.

That unprecedented run of success was broken at last year's US Open, and with it went Woods' chance of claiming what most observers consider to be golf's true Grand Slam, the single-season sweep.

Bobby Jones claimed a unique sweep in 1930
Bobby Jones claimed a unique sweep in 1930
It is a measure of the mark Woods has already made on golf's history books that he is one of only three men to have come anywhere near achieving this landmark feat.

The first of the trio, Arnold Palmer, is also credited with being the man who first aired the notion of a golfing Grand Slam.

Legend has it that Palmer, having already won the 1960 Masters and US Open titles, allowed himself to dream out loud "wouldn't it be unique to win a Grand Slam of golf?"

But Palmer lost the Open at St Andrews by a stroke to Kel Nagle, and missed out at the PGA Championship too.

So no Holy Grail for Sir Arnie, but the chase was now officially on. And Palmer's great rival, Jack Nicklaus, was the next to take up the quest.

Ben Hogan had to settle for a Triple Crown in 1953
Hogan had to settle for a Triple Crown in 1953
In 1972, Nicklaus, having scooped the Masters and US Open with a degree of comfort, went into the Open at Muirfield as a 9-4 favourite.

But he also lost by a shot, this time to Lee Trevino, who promptly announced, "I hope Jack wins the PGA - I'll be remembered as the man who stopped the Grand Slam."

There are, of course, purists who would point to the accomplishments of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan.

Jones is the only golfer to have won anything comparable to a modern-era Grand Slam - the so-called "impregnable quadrilateral" of US Open, US Amateur, Open and Amateur titles - when he swept the board in 1930.

And Hogan won a Triple Crown of Masters, US Open and Open Championship in 1953, but was prevented from completing the Grand Slam by the simple fact that the Open and PGA took place at the same time - an obstacle even Woods would struggle to overcome.

Tiger Woods slips on the famous green jacket at Augusta in April
One down, three to go
And so we return to Tiger, who, like Palmer, has also allowed himself to dream out loud.

"I've done four in a row before," he said after winning his third Masters title in April.

"It would be nice to do it in the same year. It would be different to how I did it the last time."

Whether Woods is capable of such sustained excellence again - and this time in the same calendar year - is debatable.

But what is certain is that this is unlikely to be the last time he is in a position to try.

BBC Sport Online's US Open 2002 news section

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15 Apr 02 | US Masters
10 Jun 02 | US Open
09 Jun 02 | US Open
10 Jun 02 | US Open
10 Jun 02 | US Open
10 Jun 02 | US Open
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