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Back-to-back majors

GRAEME McDOWELL will join one of the most exclusive clubs in golf if he successfully defends the US Open title at Congressional next week.

It's 32 years since the last back-to-back winner at the US Open, Curtis Strange (pictured) following up on his play-off victory over Nick Faldo at Brookline in 1988 with a one-stroke success at Oak Hill the following year.

Strange etched his name into the history of America's national championship alongside Ben Hogan (1950 and '51), Ralph Guldahl (1937 and '38), Bobby Jones (1929 and '30), John McDermott (1911 and '12), Alex Smith (1906 and '07) and Willie Anderson (1903, '04 and '05).

Only Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington, have completed back-to-back wins at any of golf's Majors this century; just seven men have managed this feat in the past 50 years and a mere 26 in the history of all four of golf's Grand Slam championships.

Woods is out on his own when it comes to defending his sport's greatest titles.

He has retained the trophy twice at the US PGA (1999 and 2000; 2006 and '07); once at the British Open (2005 and '06) and once at the US Masters (2001 and '02).

Only two other men have won back-to-back at more than one Major -- Jones at The British Open (1926 and '27) and US Open (see above) and Walter Hagen at the US PGA (1924, '25, '26 and '27) and the British Open (1928 and '29).

Harrington won the British Open for the first time at Carnoustie in 2007 and held onto the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale the following year. Faldo won in successive years at the Masters in 1989 and 1990, a feat first performed at Augusta National by Jack Nicklaus in 1965 and '66.

In the past 50 years, Arnold Palmer (1961 and '62), Lee Trevino (1971 and '72) and Tom Watson (1982 and '83) have also done the trick at the British Open.

Irish Independent