Nothing beats the Tiger Slam
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
Move over Joe DiMaggio, make some room Nadia Comaneci.
When it comes to the greatest feats of sports, we have a new leader in the clubhouse, Tiger Woods.
Earl Woods had told us this would happen. Not that many believed him at the time.
But the record will reflect that he had warned us the day would come when his son's growing exploits would transcend golf. That there would come a moment when we would have to gaze beyond the ropes and past his sport to put Tiger's accomplishments into perspective.
Of course, who thought it would happen when young Master Eldrick was just 25 years old, the peak of his career years ahead of him still?
But, then, if Woods' six years on the PGA Tour have taught us anything, it is that to Tiger, convention is just another hallowed course to be tamed. History merely another par-5 to be abused at his pleasure.
In winning the Masters to complete his mantel collection of majors, Woods has unified all the titles Masters, U. S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship under one swoosh, even if it isn't a calendar-year Grand Slam. Not that anybody is saying that particular achievement is out of reach this year.
In the span of 294 days, he has accomplished what no professional has been able to do. And, by a combined 25 strokes, from St. Andrew's to Pebble Beach, over the best and deepest fields the sport has ever assembled.
Unless injury or boredom overtake him, Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors are well within Tiger's grasp. Byron Nelson's 11-tournament win streak might not be safe, either.
Only time is required to ultimately certify Tiger's standing as golf's greatest.
As Mark Calcavecchia put it Sunday after watching Woods work his magic among the azaleas and dogwood, "He's not like anyone we've seen before in the game."
Which inevitably puts us right where Tiger's pop said it eventually would: Looking for perspective in terms of all sports, not just golf.
To have ownership of all four majors simultaneously is to not only gain admission but step to the head of the prestigious club of landmark feats.
It is to stand among DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Comaneci's perfect 10s and Mark Spitz's seven gold medals.
It is to move among Michael Jordan's six NBA Championships, Bill Russell's 11 titles and Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. It is to recall Don Budge's and Steffi Graf's Grand Slams, Babe Ruth's 60-homer season, Mark McGwire's 70, Wayne Gretzky's domination of hockey and a handful of others.
Before that 18-foot birdie putt reached the cup Sunday at Augusta National, Tiger had stepped beyond the bounds of golf. Now, he stands at the front of the lodge of great sports feats.