What if I told you the best golfer in the world isn’t Tiger Woods?
Not Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott. Not even a man. What if I told you the best golfer in the world at is Inbee Park?
Whilst the LPGA Tour has been through a tough time in recent seasons, the current world number 1 is enjoying an incredible run of form. Just look at her form over the last 13 months:
2nd Place: 6
Top-15 finishes: 23
Missed Cuts: 1
Dollars per shot: $568
NOTE: Tiger Woods remains the biggest earner this year, making $2,430 per shot.
Whilst there are plenty of big name male golfers without a major between them, Park, a 25-year old Korean, has also won the first three female majors of the year. She heads to the Old Course this week with a chance to become the first golfer (male or female) to win four (professional) majors in one calendar year.
“I didn’t really think about doing a calendar Grand Slam in my career in golf ever. It’s something that I never dreamed of achieving, to the point where I thought it was impossible.”
Whilst Tiger Woods won the Open at St. Andrews in 2000 en route to holding all four majors at the same time, his “Tiger slam” spread across 2000 and 2001.
Here’s a look at some of the best calendar years in golf history (all events were considered majors at the time of playing):
1930: Ben Hogan (The Open, U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Amateur)
1950: Babe Zaharias (Women’s Western Open, U.S. Open, Titleholders Championship)*
1953: Ben Hogan (Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, and The Open)
1961: Mickey Wright (LPGA Champ, U.S. Open, Titleholders Champ.)*
1986: Pat Bradley (Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship, du Maurier Classic)*
2000: Tiger Woods (U.S. Open, The Open Championship, PGA Championship)
2013: Inbee Park (Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship, US Open)*
With three majors already on the mantlepiece, Park has already won more majors in a calendar year than names like Nicklaus, Jones, Palmer, Snead, Player, Sorenstam and Webb.
When you consider that just 15 women in history have won more than 4 majors in their career, the chance for Park to win 4 in a single year is quite remarkable.
What about tennis grand slams?
Only two men and three women have won all four tennis majors in a calendar year:
1938 Don Budge
1953 Maureen Brinker
1962 Rod Laver
1969 Rod Laver
1970 Margaret Court
1980 Steffi Graf
What makes Park’s potential achievement odd is that 2013 is the first year women will compete for five majors, instead of four. The Evian Masters, taking place in September, was promoted to Major-status last year.
So if Inbee Park won this week, winning four majors in a year, would it be a Grand Slam? Or is a Slam “every major in a calendar year”?
Personally, I think adding a major has diluted the other four and I wouldn’t consider a Park win this week as a Grand Slam. However, it would be a historic achievement being the first golfer to win four majors in a calendar year.
How likely is a “Park Slam”?
Pretty likely according the bookies who have her at 5/1 to win at the Old Course this week and 20/1 to finish the career slam at the Evian Masters later this year.
Consider this: Coming into 2013, Tiger Woods was 140/1 to win the Grand Slam, behind only McIlroy at 120/1.