Chris BaldwinThis Week at TravelGolf.com: Feb. 7, 2006

This year Tiger wins the real Grand Slam

Pencil in Tiger Woods for four majors this year. Not a Tiger Slam. A Grand Slam in the truest sense.

It seems ludicrous, of course. It's only Feb. 7. The PGA Tour's endless season has barely started. (Ty Votaw is still trying to figure out how to justify that executive vice president salary.) The Masters is still a good two months away. (Hootie Johnson is still trying to figure out how to offend somebody else.)

Heck, the Super Bowl hangover's still active. But have you seen what's been going on?

Two weeks into his season, Tiger has two wins. The greatest golfer of all time is two for two and he's barely gotten started. He only shaved that hideous off-season goatee before Sunday's final round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

This is shaping up as the most amazing sports season of our lifetimes. Any sport. Period. Call it premature if you must. I call it listening to the signs.

Tiger is done tinkering. He's in one of those rare satisfied-with-his-swing stages that lasts at most two or three seasons for a golfer who's so good he needs to invent ways to challenge himself to maintain interest.

His rivals look more spooked than ever. Jose Marie Olazabal loses his putting touch one week. Ernie Els plops one into the water the next. What's next, Phil Mickelson trips over his smile?

No one seems to sense a Tiger storm coming more than his pro golf peers.

No majors for you!

Still dubious? Consider this: Tiger is swinging on a mission. He's playing for his sick father, the man smart enough to throw tees at a young Tiger while he would swing (building concentration), while Michelle Wie's dad threw money at her (paying her for putts made).

Usually, it'd be right to dismiss this kind of sentimental motivation as nonsense. This is different though. If any athlete lives off his will, it's Tiger Woods. He wants to win the Grand Slam while his dad's still around. Sadly, Earl Woods is fighting cancer again, confined to watching Tiger's march to history on TV.

Tiger knows this could be his last chance to deliver a historic thrill for his hurting dad. You're going to bet against him?

Go ahead. There will be plenty of fellows in Las Vegas eager to take that money.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.



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