Saturday, November 14, 1998
Qualified as: Top alternate Tour wins: 7 1998 win: BellSouth Classic Money ranking: No. 4 with $1,841,117 Events / cuts made: 20 / 19, one withdrawal Top 10 finishes: 12 Career highlights: '97 PGA Rookie of the Year ... Set tournament records of 18-under-par 270 and 12-stroke win in becoming the youngest Masters champion (21 years, 3 months and 14 days) when he won in '97 ... First player to win U.S. Amateur three consecutive years (1994-96)
Golfs most exclusiveBy Bill Kwon
event returns to Kauai with
Woods, OMeara, Singh,
Janzen and a new format
The PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
It's billed as the most difficult of all golf championships to qualify for.
It must be. Even when you win it -- as Ernie Els did last year -- it doesn't mean you'll be eligible to return as the defending champion. So Els isn't back.
The only ones to qualify for the $1 million event put on by the PGA of America are the winners of golf's four major championships during the year.
If someone wins two of the majors -- as Mark O'Meara did in capturing the Masters and the British Open -- an alternate is selected based on the best performance by a previous winner of a major in this year's majors.
The alternate is Tiger Woods, who turns out to be the only one returning from last year's elite foursome. He finished eighth in the Masters, 18th in the U.S. Open, third in the British Open and 10th in the PGA Championship.
Also, based on world rankings, Woods is the top seed in the Grand Slam that will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Poipu Bay Resort golf course on Kauai.
Woods will face U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, while No. 2 seed O'Meara will take on Vijay Singh, the PGA Championship winner, as the Grand Slam will be conducted under an 18-hole match-play format for the first time. Since 1991, it had been 36 holes of stroke play.
The winners will play for the $400,000 top prize, while the losers of the first-round matches will battle for third place the next day. The runner-up gets $250,000, third place $200,000 and fourth $150,000.
Qualified as: Masters, British Open winner Tour wins: 16 1998 wins: Masters, British Open Money ranking: No. 7 with $1,786,699 Events / cuts made: 19/15, one withdrawal Top 10 finishes: 7 Career highlights: Oldest player (41) to win two majors in the same year ... 1981 PGA Rookie of the Year ... Tied PGA Championship 36-hole record of 131 in '95
If Woods wins this year's event, he wouldn't be the first alternate to pull it off.
Greg Norman repeated as the Grand Slam champion in 1994 at Poipu Bay after qualifying as the event's only other alternate when Nick Price won the British Open and the PGA Championship.
Norman thanked Price profusely when it was over.
Qualified as: PGA Championship winner Tour wins: 7 1998 wins: PGA Championship, Sprint International Money ranking: No. 2 with $2,238,998 Events / cuts made: 26/23, one withdrawal Top 10 finishes: 6 Career highlights: 1993 PGA Tour rookie of the year ... Fiji's only world-class golfer ... Has won tournaments in 12 countries
Maybe Woods will be doing the same to O'Meara, his playing buddy and shoo-in as the 1998 PGA Player of the Year, when it's all over.
O'Meara, 41, opened the door for his good neighbor in Isleworth, Fla., by becoming the oldest player to win two majors in the same year with his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale, England.
It could set up another rematch between the two, if they survive their first-round matches as expected.
The two met in the World Match Play Championship last month in England, with O'Meara beating Woods, 1-up, in the 36-hole final.
O'Meara had advanced with a runaway 11 and 10 victory in the semifinals over Singh.
Woods loves the match-play format.
Qualified as: U.S. Open winner Tour wins: 8 1998 victory: U.S. Open. Money ranking: No. 20 with $1,155,314 Events / cuts made: 24/20 Top 10 finishes: 3 Career highlights: Two-time U.S. Open champion (1993 and '98) ... Tied Jack Nicklaus' 72-hole U.S. Open record of 272 in his '93 victory at Baltusrol
"The ebb and flow is a beautiful thing," said Woods, who has a career record of 26-8-1 in match-play competition, including 20-2 in the U.S. Amateur. O'Meara is 39-18-1, while Singh is 13-12-1 and Janzen 5-8.
Besides Woods, Janzen also will be playing in the Grand Slam for the second time. He tied for third in 1993, when Norman won the event held at the PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.
"This is one of the perks that comes with winning a major championship. It will be great to be in Hawaii," Janzen said.
"It's a great privilege to be competing in this (the Grand Slam)," said Singh. "I'm looking forward to it and so is my family."
Both rounds will be televised live in prime time to the East Coast by TBS SuperStation. It will also be aired to more than 100 countries worldwide.
A clinic will be held for Kauai youngsters Monday morning with the pro-am scheduled to follow. Jaime Matsumura of Lihue and Shayna Miyajima of Wailuku, both 16, were awarded spots in the pro-am after winning the PGA Aloha Maxfli Junior Championships.