Since the Masters era began in 1934, only five players have achieved a career Grand Slam. They are golf legends:
- Gene Sarazen
- Ben Hogan
- Jack Nicklaus
- Gary Player
- Tiger Woods
Fans of the game will get a chance to see three more players try to join that list soon. In the next three majors, three more players will take a whack at their career Grand Slam. It begins at Quail Hollow in Charlotte for the 2017 PGA Championship.
Fresh off becoming the second-youngest player in history to win three legs of the career Grand Slam — with a victory at the Open Championship in July — Jordan Spieth gets a chance to collect the only major trophy he's missing at Quail Hollow.
With his win at Royal Birkdale, Spieth joined Nicklaus as the only player to win three legs of the Grand Slam before the age of 24. Spieth turned 24 on July 27. A win at Quail Hollow would make Spieth the youngest in history to complete the career Grand Slam, clipping Woods by a little more than eight months.
At the 2018 Masters in April, Rory McIlroy — four times a top-10 finisher at Augusta National — could complete his career slam. And Phil Mickelson will have his shot at the 2018 U.S. Open being played at Shinnecock Hills in June. Mickelson, famously, has been runner-up in a record six U.S. Opens, including 2004, the last U.S. Open played at Shinnecock.
The five players who make up the list of career Grand Slam winners account for an astounding 57 total major victories. Nicklaus leads the way with 18, Woods has 14, Hogan and Player each have nine and Sarazen collected seven.
Woods and Nicklaus have both won each of the four majors on at least three separate occasions. Woods is the only player in history to have won all four majors in succession. No one has won a modern-day "calendar year" Grand Slam. Woods won the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2000, following it with a win at the 2001 Masters for what is known as, "The Tiger Slam."
Here's a look at the players — youngest to oldest — to complete a career Grand Slam:
1. Woods was 24 when he completed the first of his three career Grand Slams at the 2000 Open Championship. And what a sweet venue for it to happen; St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf. Woods is the fastest (and youngest) player to complete the career Grand Slam. The final two legs of that first Slam — the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and that St. Andrews Open — became the first two legs of the "Tiger Slam."
2. Nicklaus completed the first of his three career Grand Slams at the age of 26 when he won the first of his three Open Championships at Muirfield in 1966. Nicklaus needed 11 major starts between snagging the third leg of the career Grand Slam at the 1963 PGA Championship and completing it at that 1966 Open. In between, the Golden Bear won the 1965 and 1966 Masters.
3. Player is the only non-American on the list of career Grand Slam winners. He turned the trick at age 29 when he captured his only U.S. Open title, in 1965 at Bellerive Country Club (the site of the 2018 PGA Championship). Player took the third leg of his career Slam in the 1962 PGA Championship. It was 10 major starts later before he picked off that win at Bellerive.
4. Sarazen was 33 years old in 1935 when he completed the career Grand Slam at the Masters. Sarazen missed the inaugural Masters a year earlier when he had "a prior commitment" to play in South America. That 1935 Masters was Sarazen's fourth major start after he claimed the third leg of the career Slam at the 1933 PGA Championship.
5. Hogan was 40 years old when he completed his career Grand Slam in the 1953 Open Championship at Carnoustie. Remarkably, it was the only time Hogan participated in the Open during his illustrious career. That Slam-clincher came six starts after winning the third leg of the Slam for Hogan at the 1951 Masters (he did not play the Open or the PGA Championship in 1951 or 1952). He also won the 1951 U.S. Open in between.
As of now, Spieth, McIlroy and Mickelson find themselves on a list of with 10 others — Walter Hagen, Jim Barnes, Lee Trevino, Tommy Armour, Sam Snead, Harold Hilton, Byron Nelson Raymond Floyd, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer — as the only players one major short of a career Slam. The players on that list missing a PGA Championship (like Spieth) are Watson and Palmer.
Whatever's in store for the remainder of Spieth's presumably long career, one thing is certain. He's already among the greats.