What is golf’s career ‘Grand Slam’? Rory McIlroy aiming to join elite group with Masters win

The incredible accomplishment has only been achieved a handful of times in the modern era and the Northern Irishman is just a Masters win away from completing it.

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The first major tournament of the PGA Tour calendar gets underway this week, as the 2022 edition of The Masters returns to Augusta National in Georgia.

The field will be packed with the very best players in the world, some looking to win their first Green Jacket and others looking to replicate their success from years past.

For one golfer though, there is the chance to have his named placed alongside legendary company as he targets an incredible achievement that has been seldom seen throughout the modern era.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy could achieve a ‘Career Grand Slam’ with victory in Augusta, joining an elite group of the game’s most iconic stars.

Here is what the term ‘Grand Slam’ means in men’s golf, how it’s achieved and the professionals who have accomplished the incredible feat:

What is golf’s Grand Slam?

Tiger Woods became the youngest ever player to win a career ‘Grand Slam’ with victory at The Open in St Andrews in 2000Tiger Woods became the youngest ever player to win a career ‘Grand Slam’ with victory at The Open in St Andrews in 2000
Tiger Woods became the youngest ever player to win a career ‘Grand Slam’ with victory at The Open in St Andrews in 2000

A ‘Grand Slam’ in golf refers to a player winning all four ‘major’ championships in the same year.

In the modern era, they are:

  • The Masters
  • The US Open
  • The PGA Championship
  • The Open

No player in the modern era has ever won a Grand Slam.

The only player to have ever won a Grand Slam is Robert ‘Bobby’ Jones Jr, who achieved the unprecedented feat in 1930.

During that time, the Grand Slam comprised of The Open and US Open as well as The Amateur Championship and US Amateur Championship.

The modern Grand Slam, as it is now recognised, could first be achieved with the introduction of The Masters in 1934 and was unofficially established around 1960.

Although no player has been able to accomplish it, some have come close.

Who has won a Career Grand Slam? - ‘Tiger Slam’ explained

A ‘Career Grand Slam’ is the accomplishment which is considered far more achievable in the modern era but only five golfers have ever managed it.

Rather than winning all four majors in the same year, a player simply has to win them throughout their career - something that is still far easier said than done.

Only five players have ever achieved the feat, they are:

  • Gene Sarazen
  • Ben Hogan
  • Gary Player
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods was the last player to conquer all four championships and became the youngest ever to do so when he won The Open at St Andrews in 2000.

He then went on to establish the ‘Tiger Slam’ - the closest any player has come to winning a Grand Slam in the modern era.

The Tiger Slam refers to winning all four major championships in succession but not in the same year.

It was achieved by Woods when he won The Open, US Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and then The Masters in 2001.

Has a British golfer ever won a Career Grand Slam?

No British player has ever won a Career Grand Slam, with South Africa’s Gary Player the only non-American to ever accomplish the feat.

However, Rory McIlroy could become the first Brit to do so if he can win The Masters.

The Northern Irishman has won two PGA Championships (2012 and 2014) as well as The Open in 2014 and the US Open 2011 but has never claimed the Green Jacket at Augusta National.

He has been targeting the achievement for seven years now, every time The Masters comes around, but could this finally be his year?

The other professionals currently on tour who require just one more major to achieve a Career Grand Slam are Phil Mickelson, who needs to win the US Open, and Jordan Spieth who needs victory at the PGA Championship.

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