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Punch Shot: Does British win give Park Grand Slam?

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All eyes are on Inbee Park this week as she tries to win her fourth consecutive major at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. But what exactly is on the line at the Old Course in St. Andrews? The traditional Grand Slam? Or would she need to also capture the LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Masters in September, to complete some kind of Super Slam?

We asked our panel of writers: If Park wins this week, would you consider it the Grand Slam?


By RYAN LAVNER

Yes.

Forget what the schedule says. The Evian Masters doesn’t deserve to be a major, not yet anyway, and certainly not just because the LPGA wanted to appease a deep-pocketed sponsor and pushed for a status change. Major status is earned, not bought. The Big 4 in women’s golf are the Kraft, the LPGA, the Women’s Open and the Women’s British, for now and the foreseeable future. Winning all five is a bonus, a Super Slam. Requiring a clean sweep now is a disservice to Park, and the game in general. In Scotland she is attempting to become the first player, male or female, to win four professional majors in a calendar year. Make no mistake: that’s the Grand Slam.


By REX HOGGARD

Let it be told in 50-point bold type, if Inbee Park wins this week’s Women’s British Open it will be the Grand Slam, regardless of what the historians and housekeepers may claim.

With respect to the Evian, a first-year member of the LPGA’s major party, the symmetry of the grand four far outweighs the economic urgency of the one, to pencil whip history would be a disservice to Park and everyone who came before her with the singular notion of winning the single-season Grand Slam.

The LPGA can call it whatever they wish if Park goes on to win the Evian (may we suggest the Super Slam, or maybe the Park Slam), just don’t muddy the major waters with small print or an asterisk.

To put Park’s accomplishment in context, Tiger Woods – the best player of this generation and perhaps all time – has never won the first three legs of the single-season Grand Slam and Phil Mickelson is still a U.S. Open title away from the career Grand Slam ... at 43.

When Bobby Jones collected the single-season slam in 1930 he won the U.S. and British opens and U.S. Amateur and British Amateur championships, there was no footnote on that accomplishment pointing out the PGA Championship, which would later join the major rotation, had been played since 1916.

Similarly, if Park makes history this week at St. Andrews it will be the Grand Slam. Let the historians figure out what to do with the Evian.


By RANDALL MELL

If Inbee Park wins the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week, it will be the grandest feat in the history of professional golf, but it won’t be a slam, at least not a Grand Slam.

I’m with the folks who play bridge, the card game from which the term Grand Slam was borrowed. You've got to sweep all the points in the card game to win the Grand Slam. You've got to sweep all the majors in a single season to win the Grand Slam in golf.

Now, it’s unfortunate, even aggravating, that Park doesn’t arrive at St. Andrews with everything on the line in a Grand Slam bid. It’s such a terrific story, and the drama would be heightened knowing this is it, that a victory makes her the first man or woman to win professional golf's Grand Slam. However, there’s no ignoring the LPGA declaring the Evian Masters will serve as the fifth major this year. While I think the more big events the LPGA has the better, the timing’s unfortunate. It’s the LPGA’s sour luck that a Grand Slam bid would arrive the first year it goes to five majors.

Then again, maybe it’s just the opposite. Maybe it's grand luck. If Park wins the Women’s British Open and next month’s Evian Masters, it’s over-the-top good luck for women’s golf. Then it’s perfect timing. It's not only grand, it's a Grand Slam.


By JASON SOBEL

Poor Inbee Park. Just her luck: On the year when she claims the first three major titles, the LPGA added a fifth one. That’s like knocking out Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, only to find out you’ve then gotta beat Muhammad Ali or someone like that.

It’s not Park’s fault, but rules are rules. The same executives who smack title sponsorships on major championships and make players compete in pro-ams before they start decided that the Champions Tour must have it right, since they followed suit by adding another major.

It was a bad decision in the first place, but now looks even worse, as debate will continue over whether the first four alone would give Park the Grand Slam title.

I say no. The term Grand Slam in baseball means four, but in golf it includes all major championships. The LPGA has five of ‘em now, so despite commissioner Mike Whan’s plea that Park will hold the Grand Slam with just the first four, he’s made this bed and now he’s got to lie in it. If you want to earn that title, you’ve got to win ‘em all.

Of course, there is a silver lining for Park. If she wins the first four, but fails to claim the Evian Masters, she’ll still hold four majors in one year. It won’t be a Grand Slam, but it’s still pretty damn good.