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Tiger has 50 percent chance to complete Slam
By Curtis Strange
Special to ABC Sports Online

Before Tiger Woods, we have never looked at anyone in realistic terms of being capable of winning the Grand Slam. The only person in my lifetime that it was talked about was Jack Nicklaus, and even then, they said it was possible, not probable.

It's changed with Tiger because there is such a difference between his ability and No. 2 Phil Mickelson. There is such a gap there that it's possible now. The gap is greater with Tiger and Phil Mickelson than it was with Jack and Lee Trevino and Tom Watson. I don't like to see the current guys knocked, but Tiger is a more well-rounded player. Nothing to take away from Jack, but Tiger is purely more dominant than Jack was. Trevino had Nicklaus' number. Watson beat Nicklaus head-to-head a number of times in major championships.

Tiger Woods
Tiger will head to Scotland with a chance to make history.
I think it will happen, but it hasn't happened yet, that somebody will beat Tiger. When he has won so much and beats these guys so many times, it gets into your head. They all truly believe that they can beat him, but they can't help to think, "I haven't done it yet."

Tiger might be the best player to ever play the game. Right now. He is still not the greatest champion because he has to prove it. He has some records to beat before he proves that. But he might be the greatest player to have ever played the game.

Will he do it? I feel he's got a 50-50 chance. It's just unbelievable to me that somebody is that good that we talk in these terms. It's been done before with guys winning three out of the four, but he has a chance. He knows that he's done it before -- not in a calendar year -- but he has possessed all four titles at one time.

There is still a lot of work to be done because it's still halfway. It's going to be hard work and he has to play well. But I think he can do it. He still has to beat the best players in the world.

He knows the pressure that he is getting ready to face when he goes to Muirfield. He is playing well enough. Deep down he might be thinking that this is the year. Everything is lining up pretty well for him.

He's going to be far and away the best player in the field. If he plays just decent, he will be in the last two groups on Sunday with a hell of a chance to win. If he plays well, he will be leading. That's the way we have come to think of Tiger Woods. That is, if he plays at his potential, he is going to win, and even if he doesn't, he is going to be near the lead. That makes our job at ABC more fun because we want to do the job to document some part of history in a way that he deserves.

If he plays just decent, he will be in the last two groups on Sunday with a hell of a chance to win. If he plays well, he will be leading. That's the way we have come to think of Tiger Woods.

Muirfield is a typical links course. And links courses are frustrating. The elements play a part of it. They are so much different than what we are used to in America. You have to use your imagination. You have to be strong mentally.

There are a couple of good players over there who are good players. They are more adept at playing links golf than we are. Any guy who gets a hot hand can be tough to beat. Sergio can do well.

From this side of the Atlantic, it's the same old, same old. It's Mickelson, Ernie Els. And David Duval, who will be defending, so he'll be excited.

But any golf course sets up to Tiger's game. He is long and straight. He has a wonderful short game. He has everything. With his ability, he is the best player on every golf course. If you have a specific style of game that is strong in one area and weak in some areas, then some courses will set up better than others.

Tiger, at this point in time, is going to be tough to beat. In regards to the Slam, he thinks it might be his time so he will do everything in his power to be prepared which will make him tougher to beat.

I can't envision him having a really off week. If he is on his game, he wins by eight or 10. Nicklaus never did that. Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15, the British by eight, The Masters by 12. He's not just winning it, but he's actually lapping the field.

This man is better than everybody else. He is still the dominant player, the favorite, and if he plays decent, he will be right there at the end.

Greater Hartford
Following a major championship, players are different in their approach. Some players will have a little bit of a letdown. Other players will feed off of all the hard work that they put in leading up to the U.S. Open and play exceptionally well.

Mickelson has proven that he continues on and plays well. But some guys don't play well for a week or two because it is a long, hard week at the U.S. Open. We do have a wonderful field this year's Canon Greater Hartford Open.

I look for Sergio to do well. He is young. He has so much piss and vinegar. He has so much energy and enthusiasm. Mickelson will do well, too. He is still playing well every single week that he goes out. He finishes.

Tiger is not playing, so it is a good chance for somebody to take hold. I hate to say it like that, but it's the truth. It's almost a relief. If you think you have a chance to win this week, it's a relief that Tiger is not there.  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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