Grand Slam of Golf Worth Watching?


A little exhibition sprinkled with a little competition? Or is the Grand Slam of Golf all competition? With a purse of $1.3 million, I’m guessing it might be more competition especially since the winner could be looking at $600,000 to add to his coffers. Regardless, the next couple of days could be as entertaining as any since the Grand Slam of Golf’s inception in 1979.

First, a very brief history lesson. When the Grand Slam of Golf first debuted, it was only one round, low score wins. It stayed that way until 1991 when a second round was introduced. Two rounds, low score wins. In 1998 and 1999, a match play format was utilized to determine the winner. After that, the current, and “old”, format was reinstated.

As is no surprise, Tiger Woods has claimed top honors seven times. There are four other multiple winners: Greg Norman (3), Jim Furyk, Andy North and last year’s winner, Ernie Els (2). With this yer’s competitors, we will witness a first time winner.

A brief glimpse at those and how they won their invite…

1. Charl Schwartzel – 2011 Masters Champion
It wasn’t so much that Schwartzel won, but it was the manner in which he won by scoring a birdie over his final four holes. Some thought this major win would propel him to a higher status. While Schwartzel is a top 20 player (currently 13th in the OWGR), for some weird reason, the impact isn’t felt as much here in the States. He missed out on the TOUR Championship by two spots and skipped the first round of the playoffs.

Don’t let that deter your confidence in Schwartzel though. He has a very nice record in all four of this year’s majors

– won The Masters
– T9 in the US Open
– T16 at the Open Championship
– T12 at the PGA Championship

He does play well on a big stage. Schwartzel also owns a win on the European Tour this year (Joburg Open) where he won by four shots. He also is third in the Race to Dubai standings.

2. Rory McIlroy – US Open Champion
As impressive as Schwartzel’s Masters win was, McIlroy’s US Open performance was nothing short of amazing. All four rounds in the 60’s, won by eight strokes and overcoming the “Meltdown at The Masters” all added to McIroy’s victory. He didn’t have to come from behind. He simply ran out in front of the pack and never eevn glanced back to see if his fellow competitors were in his wake. Here’s Rors major finishes for 2011:

– T15 at The Masters
– won US Open
– T25 at the Open Championship
– T64 at the PGA

McIlroy currently sits #2 in the Race to Dubai standings and owns a couple of seconds on the European Tour. He is currently ranked #3 in the OWGR.

3. Darren Clarke – the Open Championship’s Champion Golfer
The “feel good story” of the majors? Perhaps. To see Clarke lofting the Claret Jug after his win at Royal St. Georges was a spectacle to see. All Clarke did was play solid golf for four days with his “worst” rounds being the final round (he shot a 70, even par). Clarke’s majors “scorecard”…

– didn’t play The Masters or US Open
– Won the Open Championship
– missed cut at the PGA

Well, if you’re going to win a major, doing it in only two shots is darn good. Clarke is currently 9th for the Race to Dubai. Of the four players in Bermuda, Clarke is the lowest ranked at #33.

4. Keegan Bradley – PGA Champion
Bradley was the only American to garner a major win in 2011. It has so impressed some that those are calling for Bradley to be Player of the Year. Not sure I agree with that (as I have already stated), but winning the PGA in a three-hole playoff presented the second-most exciting major of the season (No question The Masters holds that “title”). The week before the PGA, Bradley was in contention at the WGC-Bridgestone until a final round 74 removed him from a chance to win.

What makes Bradley’s win even more amazing? It was the only major he played in 2011. But it’s more about what transpired after. He missed the cut in two of the four tournaments following his win. He rests at #26 in the OWGR.

The course at Port Royal is short (6,845, par 71), but with the winds, it can play tough. The course was designed with those winds in mind. There’s also a slight chance of rain, making it play a little longer if those rains arrive. With the wind prevalent and the potential for rain, you are almost forced to consider McIlroy the favorite here. And add this: in yesterday’s Pro-Am, no bogeys with eight birdies (that’s what I’m hearing anyway).

And in case your wondering, a certain McIlroy fan will not be in tow…

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