Grand Slam of Golf
Mike Weir has every reason to smile after his rise to golf superstardom in 2003. Credit: Getty Images

Master of the Majors

By John L. Byrwa, 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
Player Major Finish Pts.
Mike Weir Masters Win 100
  U.S. Open T3 97
  British Open T28 72
  PGA Championship T7 93
  Total   362
Jim Furyk Masters 4 96
  U.S. Open Win 100
  British Open CUT 0
  PGA Championship T18 82
  Total   278
Ben Curtis Masters DNP 0
  U.S. Open DNP 0
  British Open Win 100
  PGA Championship CUT 0
  Total   100
Shaun Micheel Masters DNP 0
  U.S. Open DNP 0
  British Open DNP 0
  PGA Championship Win 100

Past PGA Grand Slam of Golf Champions at Poipu Bay
2002 Tiger Woods Masters Win 100
    U.S. Open Win 100
    British Open T28 72
    PGA Championship 2 98
    Total   370
2001 Tiger Woods Masters Win 100
    U.S. Open T12 88
    British Open T25 75
    PGA Championship T29 71
    Total   334
2000 Tiger Woods Masters 5 95
    U.S. Open Win 100
    British Open Win 100
    PGA Championship Win 100
    Total   395
1999 Tiger Woods Masters T18 82
    U.S. Open T3 97
    British Open T7 93
    PGA Championship Win 100
    Total   372
1998 Tiger Woods Masters T8 92
    U.S. Open T18 82
    British Open 3 97
    PGA Championship T10 90
    Total   361
1997 Ernie Els Masters T17 83
    U.S. Open Win 100
    British Open DNP 0
    PGA Championship T53 47
    Total   230
1996 Tom Lehman Masters T18 82
    U.S. Open T2 98
    British Open Win 100
    PGA Championship T14 86
    Total   366
1995 Ben Crenshaw Masters Win 100
    U.S. Open T71 29
    British Open T15 85
    PGA Championship T44 56
    Total   270
1994 Greg Norman Masters T18 82
    U.S. Open T6 94
    British Open T11 89
    PGA Championship T4 96
    Total   361
Other Items
  • 20 questions (12/1/03) — When was the last time Masters champion Mike Weir paid for a golf ball? Or what's Jim Furyk's favorite golf hole, Ben Curtis' dream foursome, or Shaun Micheel's favorite club? Find out in our exclusive 20 Questions with this year's PGA Grand Slam participants and caddies.
  • Scaling golf's major mountains (12/1/03) — Four times a year golf's best gather to try and climb that final rung to greatness on the ladder that will define their career. Jim Huber, Turner Sports' Emmy Award-winning essayist, examines what separates a major champion from the rest.
  • Left alone to flourish (12/1/03) — When Mike Weir was a promising junior in his native Canada, he wrote a letter to the great Jack Nicklaus asking if a young left-hander should try to learn the game right-handed. The Golden Bear wrote back, and the advice he offered made Weir a Masters champion.
  • Furyk finds home in Hawaii (12/1/03) — Considering the career success he's enjoyed in Hawaii -- two wins and nearly $2 million in winnings since he joined the PGA Tour in 1994 -- it should come as no surprise that U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and his wife built a second home on the island of Maui.

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