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Golf: TIME TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT; Woods in big push to match Ben's 1953 achievement.

TIGER Woods' quest to be the best golfer the world has ever seen continues at the USPGA when he bids to become the first player since 1953 to win three Majors in a season.

After running away with The Open and the US Open, the 24-year-old is hoping to match Ben Hogan's achievement.

Woods, 24, looks to start on his second set of grand slam titles by becoming the first player since Ben Hogan 47 years ago to win three majors in a single season. Burkemo won 1953's 'other' title that year, the PGA.

Should Woods win his third successive slam in the season's last major, starting on Thursday, Singh's Masters green jacket would be the missing piece to a Woods sweep.

Unlike 1953, when Burkemo benefited from the absence of Hogan at Birmingham Country Club, Singh will get a first-hand look at Woods in action at Valhalla.

Hogan could not make it back in time to contest the PGA after his triumphant journey to Carnoustie for the British Open. Singh, however, will be grouped with Woods for the first two days of this PGA along with all-tme grand slam king, Jack Nicklaus (18 majors).

The young history-maker has been unstoppable with golf's biggest prizes at stake, smashing ancient scoring records in a spectacular 2000 season.

A year ago he won the PGA in a dramatic last-round battle with Spain's Sergio Garcia, and since that win in Medinah, Woods has proved himself to be a class above the rest.

The world number one played a practice round in Florida with his neighbour and friend Mark O'Meara yesterday and is flying to Valhalla today to begin his final tune up for the event - which starts on Thursday.

Woods has been paired with Masters' champion Vijay Singh and Jack Nicklaus - who has won a record-breaking 18 Majors.

And the player's coach Butch Harmon believes his man will continue to dominate professional golf.

Harmon said: "If he's got a weakness he'll work on it till it becomes a strength. He has a tremendous work ethic.

"Believe me he's a real worker and he isn't satisfied until he gets it right."

While Woods is hunting his record, Ernie Els has one of his own in his sights.

This season the South African has finished second in the first three Majors and a similar placed finish here would be a unique Grand Slam indeed.

"I'm here to win, but if I don't I will take second," said Els.

"I am playing well. I've been playing well for some time now - but you simply have to be at the top of your game."

Meanwhile, a slimline Colin Montgomerie heads for Kentucky again trying to end his search for a Major success.

The Scot has won the European money list for a record breaking seven years straight.

The weather will be hot and sticky - but Montgomerie knows he will have to overcome more than just the heat.

The American fans have taken pleasure in the past at baiting him and the player admitted: "To win in America will obviously be very, very difficult for me.

"Not just winning the tournament but to conquer the whole situation around me.

"If I get into a situation where the crowd won't let me win, especially if an American is second or third - it's almost got to the stage where I know I can't possibly get over that last hurdle.

"My personality doesn't help the situation but I'm not Fuzzy Zoeller. I'd love to walk around as if I didn't care, but unfortunately I do and it shows."

Montgomerie blames his American woes on former European Tour pro and now American television commentator David Feherty.

It was the Ulsterman who dubbed Monty `Mrs Doubtfire' and who told American golf viewers: "The thing about Monty is he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He's a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. His mind goes on vacation and he leaves his mouth in charge."

Montgomerie said: "I attribute a lot of blame for my situation in America to him. A lot. But it's very difficult, once you get the label put on you, to get rid of that."

But the Scotsman is hoping that his relationship with American golf fans can be changed around.

He added: "I'd like to think so. If I get to the stage that I'm enjoying it more in America I'd like to play more over here. That's where the competition is - that's where the real competition is."

TEE-OFF TIMES

THURSDAY and Friday pairings and tee-times (BST, players are US unless stated):

1334-1746: Mark Brown, Robert Damron, Jean Van de Velde (Fra)

1343-1755: Steve Lowery, Phillip Price (Wal), Steve Flesch

1352-1804: Wayne Grady (Aus), Bobby Nichols, John Daly

1401-1813: Hal Sutton, Bob Tway, Steve Elkington (Aus)

1455-1907: Sergio Garcia (Spa), Lee Janzen, Darren Clarke (Nir)

1504-1916: Tim Thelen, Rocco Mediate, Gary Orr (Sco)

1513-1925: Vijay Singh (Fij), Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus

1531-1943: Lee Westwood (Eng), Tom Lehman, Mark O'Meara

1549-2001: Greg Norman (Aus), Paul Lawrie (Sco), Phil Mickelson

1625-2037: Paul Azinger, Nick Price (Zim), Davis Love III

1634-2046: Sam Torrance (Sco), Scott Verplank, Paul Stankowski

1643-2055: Paul McGinley (Irl), Franklin Langham, Andrew Magee

1755-1343: Stewart Cink, Steve Pate, Padraig Harrington (Irl)

1840-1428: Nick Faldo (Eng), Michael Clark III, Kirk Triplett

1907-1455: David Duval, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa)

1934-1522: Steve Jones, Tom Watson, Ernie Els (Rsa)

1943-1531: Colin Montgomerie (Sco), Justin Leonard, Loren Roberts

1952-1540: Ian Woosnam (Wal), Brad Faxon, Ben Crenshaw

2010-1558: Retief Goosen (Rsa), Jesper Parnevik (Swe), Tim Herron

2046-1634: John Huston, Bernhard Langer (Ger), Russ Cochran

2055-1643: Tom Kite, Jim Furyk, Stuart Appleby (Aus)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Stenson, Tony
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2000
Words:942
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