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Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 23: Grand Slam Day

Today is the anniversary of Tiger Woods' victory at the 2000 British Open. Woods won by shooting a record 19 under par at the course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Certainly winning a major professional golf tournament in record fashion is noteworthy, but what made Woods' victory extraordinary was the fact that it made him, at 24 years-old, the youngest golfer ever to win all four career Grand Slam titles: the British, the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship.
Later when Woods won the 2001 Masters, he became the only player to win consecutive titles in all four major championships. Because he did not win all four titles in the same year, however, his accomplishment was dubbed The Tiger Slam. No player has ever won all four of the major tournaments in the same year (1).
Your first guess as to the origin of grand slam might take you to the baseball term for a bases loaded homerun that scores four runs. While this is probably the most common use of the term, it actually originated in card games (bridge for example) where one side wins all thirteen tricks. It is also a prominent term in tennis, referring to the four national championships: the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open (2).
Today's Challenge: Four Members and a Category
Wherever the term grand slam is used, it usually relates to superlative achievements and a series of victories in high stakes competition. Also, at least in the modern sense, it has come to be associated with things that come in fours. Maybe there is something magical about the number four; after all, it is the only number in the English language which when spelled out has the same number of letters as the number it represents. Look at the groups of four below, and see if you can identify the category into which all four fit.
Example: hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds. Answer: the four card suits.
1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
2. John, Paul, George, and Ringo
3. Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, Thing
4. simple, complex, compound, compound-complex
5. from want, from fear, of speech, and of worship
6. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
7. Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde
8. index, middle, ring, little
9. fire, air, water, earth
10. war, famine, plague, death
11. meat, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables
12. Boreas, Eurus, Zephyrus, Notus
13. Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian
Four Quotes of the Day:
-The four most beautiful things in life are thunder, lightning, a falling star, and the roar of a lion. --Laurens Van Der Post
-The vices of authority are chiefly four: delays, corruption, roughness, and facility.
--Francis Bacon
-Newspapers should come in four sections: Truth, Probability, Possibility, and Lies.
--Thomas Jefferson
-The four Ls to practice each day: Loving, Living, Learning, and Letting go.
--Marian M. Jung
Answers: 1. the four gospels 2. the four Beatles 3. the four members of the Fantastic Four 4. four types of sentences 5. the Four Freedoms (from F.D.R.'s famous speech) 6. the four patriarchs 7. the four ghosts in Pac-Man 8. the four fingers 9. the four ancient elements 10. the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 11. the four food groups 12. the four winds 13 the four oceans

1 - Tiger Woods Wins British Open. Aired July 23, 2000 CNN Transcripts
2 - Ammer, Christine. Southpaws and Sunday Punches and Other Sports Expressions. New York: Plume Books, 1993.

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