Palmer excited about possibility of Woods winning Grand Slam

It would have made great theater to see Tiger Woods pass Arnold Palmer on the PGA TOUR’s list for career wins and have the legend and soon-to-be King of the game exchange pleasantries and barbs at the tournament bearing Palmer’s name. Like many of Woods’ milestones, the record arrived earlier than many thought possible.Tiger Woods goes for five in a row this week at Arnold Palmer Invitational

However, there was one man who believed the hype surrounding Woods from day one.

“This may be a surprise to all of you,” Palmer told the assembled media at a press conference Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I anticipated he would pass that record and I can’t see him doing anything but continuing to pass other people’s records in the future.

“You’ve all heard what I’ve had to say about Tiger in the past, and I don’t see any change in what he’s doing or how he’s doing it,” Palmer continued.  “I think he is just in a position to continue to do the things he’s done very well.”

Woods enters this week’s tournament with a chance to catch another of the game’s legends, needing one victory to tie Ben Hogan for third on the all-time wins list with 64. He is currently 10 wins from tying Jack Nicklaus (73) and 19 from evening things with Sam Snead (82).

There is the other matter of keeping his streak of four consecutive PGA TOUR wins alive this week (six if you count the Target World Challenge and the Dubai Desert Classic) at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge. Talk of tying Byron Nelson’s streak of 11 consecutive Tour wins and a possible Grand Slam are also on everyone’s mind this week.

“I can see Tiger doing it,” Palmer said of Woods’ chances at attaining the slam. “Since I created it about 1960, we really haven’t had many people come close, except Tiger.

“Jack did a pretty good job of it and Gary and some of the other players, but Tiger is by far the most advanced into that situation,” Palmer added. I think a lot of that depends on just how determined he is to win the four events in one year. And of course, I think that it’s pretty damn exciting. I think it’s something that should stimulate the golf world and certainly should stimulate Tiger because he’s the guy on the hot spot right now.”

If anyone has the credentials to speak about the possibility of achieving such a miraculous feat, it’s Palmer. He started of the 1960 season with wins at the Masters and the U.S. Open, but failed to win either of the season’s final two majors. He achieved another half-slam in 1962 when he again won the Masters and captured the Open Championship.

Palmer’s most prolific years were 1960-63, when he won 29 PGA TOUR events in four seasons. He said like Tiger has refused to shy away from Grand Slam talk this year, he wasn’t bashful about the subject in 1960.

“Well, of course, I’ve sort of had a thought about that many years ago, and again, I think it’s an exciting thing,” Palmer said. “We still talk about Jones and the Grand Slam. Well, that’s what kind of gave me the idea in 1960 to bring that on. He’s the only man that ever did it, and probably the only one that ever will; whether it be two Amateurs and two Opens or the PGA, Masters and the two Opens.

“So if it happens, it will be a legacy that will hang in with the PGA and PGA TOUR forever as the Jones situation has,” Palmer added.

The first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitation from Bay Hill Club in Lodge begins Thursday, March 13.

 

 

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