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No one has won the modern Grand Slam of Golf in the same year since Bobby Jones version of the British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Amateur, and U.S. Open in 1930.  Why is this Wood's best chance since 'Tiger Slam One'?  (Tiger won four major championships in a row but not all in the same year in 2000-2001).  Because here in 2005 Tiger is coming out of a slump of non winning and non major championship winning, to winning golf tournaments again.  And because he is most effective when he's motivated and he is that again.  And because the golf courses that the 2005 majors are being played on are as they were in 2000, most suited to his game.  (Horses for Courses)

Granted this is not quite the Tiger Woods of 2000.  He's not driving the ball as well nor is his iron play as sharp.  He won at San Diego Torrey Pines with a game that was just adequate but effective.  He beat Mickelson head to head at Doral shooting a record score.  And he beat DiMarco at Augusta hitting some errant shots coming in.  (I believe he got tired with the rain delays and long hours there that week.)

The common thread in all of Woods 2005 victories so far is that he made the key putts to win on the final holes of each victory this year.  He made a 15 footer downhill that is difficult to read and must be hit perfectly on those winter Poana greens at Torrey Pines which he knocked in the heart knowing full well it was to win on the 72nd hole.  He holed a long 35 footer on the 71st hole playing with Phil at Doral -dead center cut -on the last day to 'drive a stake' through Phil's heart.  And after that unbelievable pitch in on 16 at Augusta he holed that 8 footer in the playoff to secure Leg One of a possible Grand Slam in 2005.  Tiger is unquestionably the best putter in the game when it's on the line and when it matters.

Pinehurst #2 is a golf course that suits Woods game as well as Pebble Beach did in 2000 where he won his first U.S. Open and maybe more like Bethpage Black which totally eliminated the short hitter from winning that title.  Why does Pinehurst suit him?  Big fast sloping domed greens with waste areas surrounding any wrong side misses into the greens.  (You can see by our Slide Show pictures of the greens at Pinehurst #2 this week) I don't think you have to hit it as straight if you have the short game skills that Tiger does at Pinehurst this week.  And his short game skills are the best of any great player who Ever played the game.  

Should Tiger win at Pinehurst he then has St. Andrews again, (where he dominated in 2000) and then Baltusrol in August for the PGA Championship which will be set up strongly suited to his long game.  We all know that Tiger is very motivated to break Jack's records and all the records he can in professional golf.  So even though he's not playing his 'A' ball striking game of 2000 (who knows if we'll ever see that again), -he's still got the Heart and Desire to get it done.

He'll still need some luck though for sure.  No matter how hard or well you play you need some cooperation from the golf gods.  Somebody else can play like god for one week and be unbeatable or he could get the wrong half of the tee times at St. Andrews and be eliminated by weather.  And any of a myriad of things that can go wrong.  But personally I like his chances.  Watch out for Tiger Woods this week at Pinehurst!  This is his best shot at a Grand Slam since 2000! 

Bob Whitbread

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