Muirfield doesn't resemble a cemetery. Anything but. Its velvet green fairways and scraggly brownish rough in the Scottish linksland near Edinburgh have no tombs or gravestones, but it's where two Grand Slam opportunities are buried.

Muirfield doesn’t resemble a cemetery. Anything but. Its velvet green fairways and scraggly brownish rough in the Scottish linksland near Edinburgh have no tombs or gravestones, but it’s where two Grand Slam opportunities are buried.

The modern professional Grand Slam is golf’s most elusive quest. Arnold Palmer designed it in 1960 when, after having won the Masters and the U.S. Open, he hoped to add the British Open and the PGA Championship for an unprecedented calendar-year sweep of the four major titles. But at St. Andrews, he lost to Kel Nagle of Australia by one stroke. Sorry.

Since then, to show how difficult the Grand Slam is, only the two best golfers of their eras — Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2002 — arrived at the British Open with a chance. Each departed Muirfield without a claret jug.

With Australia’s Adam Scott and England’s Justin Rose winning the first two majors this year, there will be no Grand Slam talk when the 142nd British Open starts on Thursday at Muirfield. But the memories of the way Lee Trevino’s chip shot stung Nicklaus and how a wet wind chill numbed Woods will command the conversations in the clubhouse and the adjacent Greywalls hotel.

Only two shots off the 36-hole lead, Woods was on the putting green minutes before his Saturday tee time when the dark clouds opened. The scene still haunts him.

“You can see this wall of rain coming in,” he said recently. “The forecast was for maybe some showers, no big deal whatsoever, but no one had forecast for the wind chill to be in the 30s, for it to be that cold. That was the thing. No one was prepared for that. No one had enough clothes. Everything was soaked. It got to the point where the umbrella was useless. It was raining too hard, and it was too windy.”

When his opening tee shot veered into the right rough, Woods’ shoulders slumped. He knew what was ahead. Bogey, the first of seven. Two double bogeys. Only one birdie, at the 17th. Out in 42, home in 39 for a 10-over-par 81, his highest round as a pro. Suddenly, he was tied for 67th, 11 strokes behind Ernie Els, the eventual winner.

“It was just blowing so hard out there, it was just difficult to stand,” Woods said that day after his round as a 20-mph wind snapped the flags atop the grandstand at the 18th green and made 50 degrees feel like 39. “The ball is oscillating. The rain is blowing. On top of that, I just hit poor shots.”

Thirty years before, Nicklaus’ disappointment was greater. For a moment after his 5-under 66 in the final round in glorious sunny weather, he thought he might have won or at least would be in an 18-hole playoff the next day.

Six shots behind Trevino after three rounds during which he often used his 3-wood off the tee, he finally took the head cover off his driver.

Birdie at the 349-yard second as he nearly drove the green. Birdie at the third, the fifth and the ninth to suddenly tie for the lead. Birdie at the 10th after twice backing off a 5-foot putt upon hearing the roars as Trevino and Tony Jacklin each eagled the ninth.

At the 188-yard 16th, Nicklaus’ 4-iron bounced into low rough to the left of the elevated green. After a pitch to about 7 feet above the hole, his par putt slid past on the right. His only bogey.

After a par-par finish for a 66 that he thought was one stroke too many to tie Trevino, he suddenly heard somebody shout, “Trevino’s blown!” Trevino’s fourth shot on the par-5 17th had crawled into the rough behind the green; a bogey loomed (for a playoff), maybe a double bogey (for a Nicklaus victory).

But as Nicklaus emerged from the scorer’s shed, his caddie, Jimmy Dickinson, yelled, “He holed his chip for a 5.”

“He what?” Nicklaus said.

Trevino’s bladed scooting chip had hit the flagstick and disappeared. Par. With a par on the 18th for 71, Trevino won.

“I was there and let it get away,” Nicklaus said later. “I felt a 65 would do it. I had a 65 and let it get away.”

Beat by one stroke. Beat by a wet wind chill. Either way, two Grand Slam bids are buried at Muirfield.