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Posted March 24, 2012, 7:02 pm
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2001: Tiger Woods wins fourth straight major at Masters

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    2001: Tiger Woods wins fourth straight major at Masters
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    2001: Tiger Woods wins fourth straight major at Masters
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    Front Page of The Augusta Chronicle after the 2001 Masters Tournament

The stage couldn't have been any grander for the slam.

Playing at the nation's most famous golf course in the most prestigious tournament in the world, Tiger Woods completed his version of the Grand Slam in his normal flair-for-the-dramatic fashion Sunday.

The 25-year-old turned in a stunning performance under intense pressure to win the 65th Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Woods is now the only golfer in history to hold the four major championship titles at the same time.

Among the millions of fans watching history unfold on television was President George W. Bush, who congratulated Woods during a phone call.

Woods beat David Duval, a runner-up for the second time in the past four years, by two shots. Phil Mickelson finished third, three shots back.

Mark Calcavecchia tied for fourth place, six shots back, along with Masters rookie Toshi Izawa of Japan. It was the highest Masters finish by a Japanese golfer.

Woods, a one-shot leader after 54 holes, closed with his second straight 4-under-par 68 for a 16-under-par 272 total, just two shots off the tournament record he set when he won his other Masters, in 1997.

He opened with rounds of 70-66 this year and is now the 15th player to win multiple Masters titles.

Duval tied with Izawa for the day's best score with a 67, while Mickelson had 70.

Woods calls his feat the Grand Slam, though by definition a golfer must win the four major championships in a calendar year.

The first three of Woods' major titles came in 2000. In order, they were the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. Counting the Masters victory, Woods was 65-under par in his four major victories in a row, winning them by a combined 26 strokes.

"Am I amazed?," Woods said, who holds the scoring records in relation to par at the four majors. "I'm amazed I was able to play as well as I did when I needed to do it."

But what to call it? Some will label it the Tiger Slam. Jack Nicklaus said the Fiscal Slam would be more fitting.

"If you're a historian, obviously it isn't a Grand Slam," said 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples. "If you're a player, when you look at it, I think it's pretty wild."

By whatever name, what Woods did has never been done before in professional golf. Two golfers, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus, had won three majors in a row. Bobby Jones won the amateur Grand Slam in 1930, taking the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur.

"We have witnessed the greatest golfing feat of our time," Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson said at the awards ceremony.

"To win four in succession, that's hard to believe," Woods said. "There are so many things that go into winning a major championship, or for that matter, any tournament. More so in a major because you have to have your game peaking at the right time. On top of that, you've got to have some luck.

"To have it happen four straight times, some of the golf gods are looking down on me the right way," Woods said.

"Awesome," is the way Couples described Woods' four-in-a-row feat. "He's an amazing player. He's one of a kind."

Woods is the first player since Couples in 1992 to win the Masters when he was ranked No. 1 in the world.

"He earned it," said Couples, who shot 68 on Sunday but was never in contention. "There was a lot of players chasing him, and he had a lot of extra pressure to hold all these tournaments at one time. The guys chasing him didn't have that situation on their hands. I thought he could handle it."

He did, but not until Duval missed two makable birdie putts on the last two holes and Mickelson faded with a three-putt bogey on the 16th hole.

Woods put an exclamation mark on the Slam by making an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. That gave him 23 birdies during a week in which he led the field in greens in regulation (59 of 72) and driving distance (a 305.5-yard average).

The latest victory is Woods' third straight this year and 27th in his career on the PGA Tour, where he has a 27-for-98 record. As a 54-hole leader in PGA Tour-sanctioned events, Woods is now 21-2. He's also 6-0 when leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes in a major championship.

As if Woods, one of the richest athletes in sports, needed any more money, Sunday's tournament record $1,008,000 first-place purse gave him $2,088,000 for his past two tournaments and $3,263,857 this season, tops on the PGA Tour.

Woods won $1,080,000 for his Players Championship victory two weeks ago. He's the first golfer to win a combined $2 million in consecutive starts.

Woods continues to rocket up the major championship victory list. With six, he passed five players, including Byron Nelson and Seve Ballesteros, and is tied for 11th place with Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino.

Trevino was 45 when he won his last major championship, while Faldo was 38 when he won his sixth.

For Duval and Mickelson, this was another tournament in which they left the course shaking their head in admiration of Woods. They remain the world's top two players who have never won a major championship. Mickelson is now winless in 35 majors. Duval is 0-for-25 and has finished sixth or better in the past four Masters.

"I can't put it in perspective," Duval said. "I would imagine it was the same way when people were competing against Jack Nicklaus, and they beat him, that's kind of where we are. We've got another player who is certainly the best player in the game right now. I think what it will do is make my victories in these majors that much more special."

"If I'm going to win with Tiger in the field, I can't afford to make the mistakes I made, like on Friday and Saturday," said Mickelson, referring to a double bogey on No. 12 on Friday and a double bogey on No. 14 on Saturday. "I had the opportunity, I just didn't come through. I was disappointed not to come out on top."

On Sunday, when Calcavecchia bogeyed the 13th hole to drop to 10-under par for the tournament, it became a three-man fight to the finish among Woods, Duval and Mickelson. Duval was playing two groups ahead of Woods and Mickelson, who were in the final pairing of the day.

Woods never lost the No. 1 standing he carried into the final round, though he was tied with Mickelson early in the round and tied with Duval after Duval made birdie on No. 10 to go 14-under for the tournament.

Woods went ahead of Duval with a birdie on the par-5 13th, a hole Duval three-putted for par. That moved Woods to 15-under par, with Duval one behind and Mickelson two back.

Twenty minutes later, Duval moved back into a tie for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 15th hole.

Duval gave a shot right back to par when he flew the par-3 16th green and emerged with a bogey.

Woods could have given himself some much-needed breathing room when he played No. 15, a hole he had birdied in each of the first three rounds, but his 2-foot birdie putt lipped out.

Instead of having a two-shot lead with three to play, Woods only led Duval and Mickelson, who made birdie from a greenside bunker on No. 15, by one shot.

"When I missed that putt on No. 15, I kept telling myself I knew I still had a one-shot led," Woods said. "I told myself I needed to make one more birdie. When I didn't hear any roars on No. 17, I knew David didn't make birdie and the best he could do was get to 15-under."

A three-putt bogey on No. 16 dropped Mickelson two shots behind Woods, who made par.

"No. 16 was a real killer because I had finally got within one shot," Mickelson said. "To pull a 7-iron up on that slope, it was a very disappointing shot. I needed to give myself a good birdie putt, and I didn't do it."

Up ahead at the 17th hole, Duval missed a 15-foot birdie putt and remained one shot behind Woods.

On No. 18, Duval staked his approach shot to within 8 feet of the hole, but ran it past the hole.

"I pulled it a little bit," Duval said. "I missed it, and I knew I needed to make it. Today, I just came up short."

Duval's miss gave Woods the luxury of making par on the final hole to win by a shot. Instead, he made a birdie, sinking the putt, just as his friend Mark O'Meara did to win the 1998 Masters.

2001 Masters

 PlayerFR1R2R3R4 Earn.
1Tiger Woods-1670666868 $1.008M
2David Duval-1471667067 $604,800
3Phil Mickelson-1367696970 $380,800
4M. Calcavec.-1072666872 $246,400
4Toshi Izawa-1071667467 $246,400
6Ernie Els-971686872 $181,300
6Jim Furyk-969717069 $181,300
6B. Langer-973696869 $181,300
6Kirk Triplett-968707071 $181,300
10A. Cabrera-866717073 $128,800
10Chris DiMarco-865697274 $128,800
10Brad Faxon-873686871 $128,800
10M. Jimenez-868727169 $128,800
10Steve Stricker-866717271 $128,800