By John L. Byrwa, PGA.com Managing Editor
There is no better barometer of a player's ability to perform under pressure than a major championship. How one handles the mental and physical demands of playing his best on golf's grandest stages gives us all a glimpse into his heart and soul.
Why else would Tiger Woods place so much emphasis on winning majors?
So then, using performance in the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship as a measuring stick, which of 2003's major champions stands the best chance of winning the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the exclusive annual 36-hole shootout to be held Friday and Saturday at Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course in Kauai, Hawaii?
That's easy. Look no further than Mr. Mike Weir, the gutsy little lefty with the new green jacket hanging in a cedar closet somewhere in Augusta National's clubhouse.
Along with his dramatic defeat of Len Mattiace in a Masters playoff, made possible by Weir making a pressure-packed 8-foot par putt on the 72nd hole, the Canadian hero posted two other top-10 major finishes in 2003 -- tying for third in the U.S. Open and tying for seventh in the PGA Championship. He finished a respectable tied for 28th in the British Open.
Overall, the 33-year-old Weir enjoyed a breakout season in 2003, netting three wins (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Masters, Nissan Open) and 10 top-10s while finishing tied for second with Vijay Singh behind Tiger Woods in the PGA of America Player of the Year race.
Of the four first-time major winners in 2003 -- Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (British Open) and Shaun Micheel (PGA Championship) are the others -- Weir was the only one to make the cut in all four.
Furyk, who also enjoyed a stellar 2003 (2 wins, 15 top-10s), finished fourth in the Masters for his only other major top-10. He later missed the cut at the British Open before finishing tied for 18th at the PGA Championship.
It's not difficult to compile 2003 major results for the two unlikeliest PGA Grand Slam of Golf participants; there weren't any before each stunned the golf world with story-book victories.
Curtis, an unknown from Kent, Ohio, ranked 369th in the world, not only made the cut in the first major he ever competed in -- a commendable achievement in itself, especially coming at ultra-tough Royal St. George's -- he went out and won it, becoming the first player to do so since Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open.
Apparently, British Open victory celebrations are all they're cracked up to be, evidenced by Curtis' missing three of his last six cuts, including the PGA Championship.
PGA Champion Micheel did not play in any of the year's first three majors.
Does any of this mean anything when it comes to predicting who will win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf? It sure does if you look at past winners since the event moved to Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course in 1994.
By assigning a point value to how a player finishes in a major -- 100 for a win, 98 for second (100-2), 97 for third (100-3), 96 for fourth (100-4), and so on -- we come up with Major Points. Since Greg Norman won the title in 1994 with a Major Points total of 270, only one other PGA Grand Slam of Golf champion entered the event with a total below 300 (Ernie Els, 230, 1997).
With 362, Weir is the only member of this year's field with a Major Points total above 300.
Below are the Major Points totals for this year's fiel and the past nine PGA of Golf Grand Slam champions:
|2003 PGA Grand Slam of Golf Field|
|Past PGA Grand Slam of Golf Champions at Poipu Bay|