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  Monday, 24 July, 2000, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Tiger in their sights
Woods
Tiger Woods: Undisputed champion of world golf
By Sport Online's Peter Sanderson

At 24-years-old Tiger Woods has emphatically launched himself into golfing folklore by becoming the youngest player to win all four Grand Slam golf events.

But doom-mongers believe Woods will dominate the sport for the the next 20 years. And what is worse - they believe there is no-one who looks like they can realistically challenge him.

Legends such as Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus all dominated the fairways in their day but for all their efforts, someone was always waiting in the wings to steal their thunder.

However, with Woods it's a different story. Young, gifted and seemingly untouchable at the top of the golf's global leaderboard, there are few players capable of beating him.

Legends

Still to reach 25 and already surpassing legends of the sport by bagging all four Grand Slams: not even Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson could manage that.

Of course the British mentality of contesting any form of unswerving domination doesn't help matters.

Despite the fact that he was English to the core, the British public loathed the ritual supremacy of Steve Davis on the snooker circuit and are still only warming to the exceptional grass playing talents of American ice-man Pete Sampras at Wimbledon.

The truth is that the fans like nothing more than a closely-fought contest which goes down to the wire.

Although, St Andrews was undeniably privileged to see the world number one and two lock horns on the final day of the Open, the fact is there were more shots between them than in John Daly's average cocktail as they marched down the final fairway.

Sport Online takes a look at the heirs to Tiger's throne.

Sergio Garcia

Garcia burst onto the scene as Europe's answer to Woods. Four years Woods' junior, the only flaw in Garcia's game could be his Latin temperament which has already got him into trouble.
Garcia
Garcia: Contender
Several times during his final round at the Open, Garcia let his temper get the better of him and swung his club furiously into the ground.

After a bout of poor luck, Garcia plummeted to six under par for the tournament, a distant 10 strokes behind Woods.

However, the 20-year-old has time on his side and has already shown just how talented an individual he is when he finished second to World No.1 Woods at the USPGA championship, became the first teenager to play in the Ryder Cup.

He has also won the Irish Open and German Masters, and partnered Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez to success in the Alfred Dunhill Cup.

Like most Spaniards, Garcia's ultimate strength is his short game and ability to pull-off a miraculous recovery when seemingly in irretrievable amounts of trouble.

Lee Westwood

Still in the spring of his career, Lee Westwood remains Britain's best hope of taming the Tiger.

Westwood
Westwood: Best of British
Winner at the Compaq European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall, and currently playing better than at any time in his career, Westwood is well worth his ranking of fourth in the world.

The burly Englishman showed his undoubted potential as a confident young 18-year-old when he won the Peter McEvoy trophy from nine shots down, and has since gone on to become one of the most solid golfers around.

The Worksop-born golfer failed to make an impact in America in the early part of his career, but his driving and approach play have turned him into one of the most respected players on the circuit.

Westwood would be the first person to admit he doesn't possess the athletic build of Woods but he still is Britain's top golfing prospect.

Aaron Baddeley

Aaron Baddeley is Australia's hottest young golfing star and is very predictably, already being touted as the next Woods.

His motto - if you're allowed to have one at just 18 - is "no pressure, one shot at a time, one hole at a time'' and it seems to be working.

The youngster proved what a wonderful player he was when he outclassed the likes of Greg Norman and Colin Montgomery in the early stages at Royal Sydney in 1999.

His critics believed his wheel would buckle but the Aussie belied his tender years to go on and win the Australian Open despite his amateur status.

Although Baddeley recognises Woods as the top player in the contemporary game, he believes he will one day carry that mantle.

However, Australian's are preying that the Baddeley joyride does not follow the same road as that of Robert Allenby who lost the Open by one shot in 1991.

With Australia watching his every putt, the 20-year-old amateur completely fell off the rails. But critics believe Baddeley has the ability and temperament to take the world by storm.

Notah Begay

The only American pretender to Tiger's crown is Begay.

Before the Open, the 27-year-old had won his previous two tournaments in the United States and came tantalisingly close to posting a hat-trick of victories at Loch Lomond two weeks ago.

Begay
Begay: Went to college with Woods
He shared the 54-hole lead in the Standard Life event with Tom Lehman and Ernie Els but slipped into a tie for fourth place with a final round of 72, one over par.

Begay was the 1999 rookie of the year on the US Tour with two victories - but quickly degenerated into a personal disaster when he was charged with driving while intoxicated and jailed for a week.

A Stamford graduate, Begay has a degree in economics, although his golfing figures never quite matched up with his team-mate Woods.

While Woods was giving hope to undervalued and impoverished people, Begay appeared to have fallen from his pedestal, his reputation in tatters, his career in ruins.

But, his form has once again picked up and he seems the to be one of the few young Americans capable of challenging Woods over the next few years.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The ceremony at St Andrews
Tiger Woods receives the Claret Jug as new Open champion
Tiger Woods
"It has been a very special week"
The BBC's Tony Adamson
"He came, he saw, he conquered. A masterclass of major proportions"
The Open at St.Andrews
20th - 23rd July

Sports Talk SPORTS TALK
Too much Tiger? Tiger triumphs
But is his dominance good for the game?
See also:

23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | The Open
23 Jul 00 | Photo Galleries
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