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After winning three of the last six majors, including the 2008 PGA Championship, Ireland's Padraig Harrington knows full well the impact of winning one of golf's greatest events. (Photo: Getty Images)

Major Champions: Elite members of a very special class

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It matters not if you win one or two or 10. The fact remains, Turner Sports' Jim Huber writes, that no matter how many major championships you capture in your career, you will forever be judged differently, by fans, peers and historians alike.

By Jim Huber, Turner Sports

Jim HuberStand at the gate, and listen to the pulse beating within. You can hear it, if you bend your ear just so. It is a sound unlike any other in all of golf.

Stand at the gate, and sniff the air, feel the hairs on the back of your neck rustle a bit.

It is the sense of a major, quite simply put.

And at the end of the week at hand, when all is said and done, it is why these men at this level play the game. For as long as there have been four designated major championships, they have given whatever rests deep inside them for the honor eventually bestowed.

They come here, then, to the annual PGA Grand Slam of Golf, fulfilled. Not finished, mind you, but fulfilled. If they never accomplish anything else in their individual careers, they can settle in front of the fire one day, grandchildren at hand, and tell them of that fateful day they won their major.

Some obviously collect them, and imagine the furor that must burn in the weeks leading up to each. They cast aside all else in their preparation for those 16 exhausting, incredible days each year. Once they win one, they must have another, chips in a very shallow bag.

Others, just as obviously, find themselves in the shadows of a late Sunday afternoon with a green jacket over their shoulders or a piece of silver in their hands, astonished at what they have just accomplished, wondering when they will awaken, and find it all a wicked dream.

And then wonder, just as wickedly, what they must do next to somehow top this one.

There seems to be an invisible pecking order among major champions. If you win one or two or 10, you somehow are judged differently, at least in the historians' minds. But imagine the journey, all the goals and practice and setbacks and uncounted blisters, to finally have a major title precede your name -- "On the first tee, from South Africa, the reigning Masters champion, Trevor Immelman" -- you know you have finally made it. One, two, 10, 18 you have made it.

They come here to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf as the most elite members of a very special class of athlete. Of the millions who try to play the game every week around the world, only a few somehow are able to do it for a living, however modestly. Even fewer gain access to the professional tours, and what are the odds of winning one of the four major championships from that pool of talent?

So, check out their gait this week. They will move with a different rhythm, without arrogance, with a new-found assurance of their place in this game. One or two might walk as though they were predestined, but another one or two might float as though lifted by the great hand of fate.

For they have stood at the gate and not merely sensed the major within ... but seized it.

Atlanta-based Jim Huber is an Emmy Award-winning essayist for Turner Sports and frequent contributor to PGA.com. This column appears courtesy of the Official 2008 PGA Grand Slam of Golf Journal.


©2008 The PGA of America / Ryder Cup limited / Turner Sports Interactive. All rights reserved.
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