This year marked the 20th anniversary of one of the great feats of golf, starring the most dazzling golfer in history: Tiger Woods (arguably, that is, with respect to Jack Nicklaus). The scene was Augusta National during the U.S. Masters, and the feat, the achievement of a fourth consecutive major during a one-year period. The Californian-born winner of a current total of 15 majors was unable to secure what would have been the second Grand Slam in the history of the sport, as his four majors in a row were not won during the same season (or calendar year) but rather corresponded to two separate seasons – albeit within a period of 365 days. So what Woods, who now lives in Jupiter (Florida), achieved could not strictly be classified as a Grand Slam. No problem, however, as a new name was coined for his achievement: the “Tiger Slam”.
In any event, overall Woods has amassed enough majors throughout his career for three Grand Slams: five Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2019), three U.S. Opens 2000, 2002 and 2008), three British Opens (2000, 2005 and 2006) and four U.S. PGA Championships (1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007).
The “Tiger Slam” was achieved between June 2000, when he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and April 2001, when the Masters title followed his victories in the British Open at St. Andrews and the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
Twenty years ago Woods (at the time 25 years of age) was, once again, subjected to exorbitant pressure as he teed up at Augusta. “Very special things have happened to me,” he said, “but I don't think I have ever achieved something as great as winning four consecutive majors. It's hard to believe.”
“You have to be at the peak of play at the right time. You have to do everything right, and it happens four times in a row – it's beautiful. Some of the golfing gods looked at me with favourable eyes.”
That April at Augusta National, Woods became quite emotional on the 18th green after he had sealed victory. And, in an unusual image for him, he covered his face with his cap to hide his emotions. "It was a weird feeling," Woods explained in 2001. "When there were no more shots to play, that's when I started to realise what I'd done."
Only five players have won at least one of each of the four Grand Slam titles during their careers: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The original version, the only true Grand Slam so far, was achieved in 1930 by Bobby Jones, who went on to help create the Masters after winning both the US Open and the British Open in their professional and amateur versions that same season. Until then there was no term to describe such a feat, because no one had thought it possible.