Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Tiger's slam bid magical

Woods proud of 2 firsts, 1 second

The Associated Press

        CHASKA, Minn. - Take away some wretched weather in the third round at Muirfield and two magical shots by Rich Beem at Hazeltine, and Tiger Woods might have a Grand Slam no one could debate.

        Twice in the last three years, Woods has come closer to winning all four majors in the same year than the records might reflect.

        In the 2000 Masters, two swings led to a double bogey (No.10) and a triple bogey (No.12) in the first round at Augusta. He wound up six strokes behind, then won the final three majors by a combined 23 strokes, including a playoff.

        This year was no different. “Extremely successful” was how Woods described the season after his most spectacular finish in a major still wasn't good enough to beat Beem in the PGA Championship.

        After winning the Masters and the U.S.Open by three shots each, hopes of a Grand Slam came to a crashing halt when Woods posted a third-round 81 at the British Open. He had a chance at Hazeltine to become the first player to win an American slam - all three U.S.majors in the same year - until he ran into Beem.

        “I had a bad round at the British, but other than that I shot 10-under par the other three rounds,” Woods said. “And this tournament, I finished second, one shot back. So, I came close here.”

        He'll have to wait eight months to start over, but at 26, this might not be the last chance Woods has at a calendar Grand Slam.

        Woods didn't intimidate Beem in the final round of the PGA Championship. Still, his final round - or at least his final four holes - might be as impressive as some of his eight major championships.

        A three-putt from 12 feet on the 13th hole, followed by a pulled 4-iron off the tee that set up another bogey on the next hole, left Woods six shots out of the lead with four holes to play.

        Beem had five holes in front of him, and showed no signs of breaking down. For a guy playing in only his fourth major, Beem was remarkably poised.

        Without having to dip into his bag for a swig of antacid, Beem hit every fairway off the tee, missed only one green in regulation and played his last five holes in 1-over.

        He wound up winning with one shot to spare.

        Woods doesn't win them all, but he never quits trying.

        “I sucked it up and got the job done coming in, and that's something I'm very proud of,” Woods said.

        Beem's win meant no slam of any kind for Woods this year, Grand or American. It meant the world to Beem, who has a major game and now the confidence to go with it.


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