Originally created 09/07/00

Tiger after a rare Triple Crown



OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Tiger Woods already has the career Grand Slam. Next up is a chance to win the Triple Crown, a feat not nearly as prestigious but no less rare.

That's not the reason Woods has selected the Canadian Open as his final tournament of an unforgettable summer, but he is aware of what a victory would mean. Only Lee Trevino, in 1971, has won the U.S. Open, British Open and Canadian Open in the same year.

"Lee has taught me a few things in this game," Woods said Wednesday. "It would be nice to share something in common with him."

He might as well, since Woods shares something in common with just about every other great player in golf history.

Already this year, Woods had the longest PGA Tour winning streak since Ben Hogan in 1946, won the most tournaments in back-to-back seasons since Byron Nelson in 1944-45, and joined Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Gary Player as the only players to win all four majors.

The Canadian Open, which starts Thursday at Glen Abbey Golf Club, was first played in 1904 and ranks as the third-oldest national golf championship behind the British Open (1860) and the U.S. Open (1895).

Woods won those by eight strokes and 15 strokes, respectively, and another romp would not be terribly surprising. After all, he is coming off an 11-stroke victory against a world-class field in the NEC Invitational at Firestone.

That was followed by his Monday Night Golf exhibition loss to Sergio Garcia, when Woods was dragging from fatigue and the flu and looked as if he were in dire need of some time off. That will have to wait one more week.

"After this tournament, I can shut it down for a while and get ready for my home stretch," Woods said. "I know that this is my last tournament for a while, which means I can go ahead and take it hard."

This is the first time Woods has played the Canadian Open since 1997, when he suffered the only blemish of his young career at Royal Montreal -- he missed the cut.

"I have gotten a little bit better since then," said Woods, whose streak of 55 consecutive cuts made is the longest active streak, and fifth-longest in tour history.

The Canadian Open used to be one of the top events in golf. While never reaching the status of a major championship, it still attracted the biggest names in golf and has a roll call of champions that includes Walter Hagen, Sam Snead, Bobby Locke and Arnold Palmer.

"When I was a kid, winning the Canadian Open was a big thing," said defending champion Hal Sutton. "I always looked at the Canadian Open as a national open and I wanted to win it, and I think that has a great deal to do with why Tiger is in the field this week.

"To win the U.S. Open and the British Open and the Canadian Open, all three in the same year, that has a large impact as to why he is here."

Woods says it isn't so, but he always seems to raise his game when history -- any kind of history -- is riding on the outcome.

"It does have a wonderful history," he said. "This is one of the biggest tournaments there ever was on the tour, and it's a tournament you'd like to win."

His impact has been huge no matter what happens. The Canadian Open is a sellout for the first time in history. Close to 500 people encircled the tee box when Woods started his pro-am round at 7:10 a.m. CTV plans to devote one camera entirely to Woods this week, and will interrupt its Friday morning news shows with live coverage of Woods in the second round.

Trevino won his first Canadian Open in much quieter times.

He was coming off a playoff victory over Nicklaus in the U.S. Open when Trevino stopped over in Quebec and beat Art Wall Jr. in a playoff at Richelieu Valley. His next stop was Royal Birkdale, where he won the British Open by one stroke over Lu Liang Huan.

But it was only after Trevino won the British Open that the Royal Canadian Golf Association awarded Trevino the "Triple Crown" and gave him a $25,000 bonus.

Trevino probably wasn't aware he was the only player to win the three oldest "Opens" in golf in the same year, but this much was clear. It was the best summer of his distinguished career, and that's something to which Woods can already relate.

At least for now.

"When you're playing well and trying to get better, you don't really know how good you can get," Woods said. "I'm sure when I'm about 50 years old I will be able to look back and say I was really that good then. But right now, I don't know what my potential will be."