AUGUSTA, Ga. -- And now, on to Tulsa, Okla. The next major championship in Tiger Woods' sights is the U.S. Open in June at Southern Hills Country Club, where he will be looking for his fifth consecutive major title.
"There's going to be a heck of a lot of stuff going on for him at Southern Hills," David Duval said. "And deservedly so. As it stands now, it's clear that somebody has to play and beat him."
Finding somebody to play Woods is simple, but beating him has become impossible lately -- at least in golf's biggest tournaments.
His two-shot victory over Duval at Augusta National in the Masters on Sunday arguably completed a Grand Slam for Woods, who is the only player in history to hold all four major professional titles at the same time.
Woods has six major titles in less than five full years as a professional and is one-third of the way to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.
Woods' methodical victory Sunday, when he toured Augusta National in 4-under 68, was his second at the Masters in five seasons and continued his recent domination of the sport's top events. Counting his 1999 PGA Championship victory at Medinah, Woods has won five of the last six majors. With four consecutive major victories, he is on a success streak unheralded in modern golf. He has been in the lead in 13 of the 16 rounds during those major tournaments and played them in 65 under par. He isn't sure how long it's going to last, though.
"We'll find out in June," he said.
He said he never dreamed of winning four consecutive majors, but now that he's done it, he didn't seem all that surprised.
"Am I amazed?" he said. "I'm amazed at the fact I was able to play when I needed to. I think that's where a lot of the hard work goes into it, the hours that you spend by yourself on the range, the putting green, out on the golf course late in the evening.
"I think from that standpoint, I am amazed, yeah."
He put in a long day at the office Sunday and it didn't end until long after dark. Following the ceremony on the putting green, where he received the Masters green jacket from 2000 champion Vijay Singh, Woods did a series of media interviews, then changed into a coat and tie for dinner in the clubhouse.
He also did another series of interviews and posed for a photo for a new Wheaties box, complete with his four championship trophies -- the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA and the Masters.
The cover of the box proclaimed him the winner of the Grand Slam, although there is still some debate. Arnold Palmer, who created the idea of a professional Grand Slam in 1960, said his idea required winning all four majors in the same calendar year. Nicklaus agrees.
But it's largely a matter of semantics. What he accomplished drew rave reviews.
"Ruthian," golfer Brad Faxon said. "Nothing that's been done is as impressive as what he's done in the history of the game."
Rocco Mediate, who stood near the 18th green with Mark Calcavecchia and watched Woods finish on Sunday, was just as effusive. "I had to see it because we're not going to ever see it again -- unless he does it," Mediate said. "There's no one coming up, no one ever been born or thought of that's going to produce what this kid produced."
Television ratings for the final round are expected to be high when released today. The rating for Saturday's play on CBS was 7.8, the best for the third round since 1972 and 32 percent higher than last year.
Woods hasn't revealed his schedule, but he isn't expected to play again until the Byron Nelson, May 10-13, in Irving, Texas. By then, maybe the excitement generated by his victory Sunday will have died down a bit. Then again, maybe not.
Woods is the defending champion in three more majors this year. The U.S. Open is June 14-17 at Southern Hills, the British Open is July 19-22 at Royal Lytham and the PGA Championship is Aug. 16-19 at Atlanta Athletic Club.
He does not have fond memories of Southern Hills, having spent one of the most agonizing weeks of his still young professional career there. In 1996, a few months after he won his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title and turned pro, his father, Earl, had a heart attack during the Tour Championship at Southern Hills and was hospitalized in Tulsa. Woods shot 78 in the second round and finished tied for 21st, 20 strokes behind winner Tom Lehman.
Duval emphasized that there is no achievement in golf that compares with Woods' owning all of golf's major pro titles at once.
Duval says it overshadows Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak as a sports achievement.
"Above the 56?" Duval said. "Man, that's not even comparing apples to oranges. That's apples to peanuts."
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