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Origin of "Triple Crown"

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  • Origin of "Triple Crown"

    I was wondering if anyone knows the origin of the term - in relation to winning the big 3 events. From my own memory, the term was mainly used (in the old days) in relation to Rugby Union (beating the other 3 home nations), although it may also have been in sports I wasn't following like Horse Racing.

    The earliest use I can find is this quote from John Higgins, after beating Mark King in the 1999 Masters quarter-final (from 13 February 1999 in The Independent) "Higgins is trying to become only the third player, after Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, to hold the Masters, World and UK titles at the same time. "That triple crown would be a dream but it's going to be tough," he said. "I've got Anthony Hamilton next and he beat me here last season. He also put out Tony Drago in the quarter-finals and he was flying. I'll certainly have to up my game." "

    Others took up the term in the following days after Higgins won the Masters. eg ""John Higgins wrote his name into snooker history at Wembley last night by achieving the sport's Triple Crown. The Wishaw wizard beat Irishman Ken Doherty 10-8 to capture his first Benson and Hedges Masters title at Wembley. He now holds the World, UK and Masters crowns at the same time - a feat only matched by legends Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry."

    I'm wondering from his quote whether it was Higgins who actually invented the term. The 1999 Masters took place during the Rugby Union 5 Nations Championship, so Higgins may well have heard the term recently.

    Preparing myself for my theory to be shot down in flames by a raft of earlier references.

  • #2
    I didn't know about the 1999 reference, but to be honest I thought it was the BBC trying to gloss over its dramatic reduction in coverage and dropping of all other tournaments from its calendar, thus investing the three it does cover with some mystical status.

    The UK Championship is an embarrassment these days.


    • #3
      Certainly agree about the UK. Seems to be pretty much the same as any other ranking event. OK, its the best of 11 rather than 9 or 7 but really nothing much to distinguish it from the rest. All 16 last-32 matches played on a single day on umpteen tables. Up to 2010 it was 2-session best of 17 stuff, even in qualifying which make it something special. Needs a shake up, currently living on past glory.


      • #4
        First person I remember using it was Hazel Irvine.Just happened to refer to the three BBC events of course.Before this the BBC also used to televise the Grand Prix around Sep-Oct.Strangely enough Hazel then used to refer to the "Big Four". Odd that.

        "You're not standing in my line of sight,but you are standing in my line of thought".


        • #5
          Probably the "big three" was a term made up by the BBC but it seems to have died out now to be replaced by "triple crown", which is used much more widely. To me the (sporting) "big three" are Palmer, Player and Nicklaus.

          From 1982: "Davis was snooker's Mr. Invincible for 16 months until last May's shock first round defeat by Tony Knowles in the World Championship. The second of Davis's Big Three crowns went at the Jameson, and on Saturday he lost to Terry Griffiths in the third round of the Coral U.K." The Jameson refers to the 1982 Jameson International Open in Derby, an early ranking event. So clearly at this stage the Masters hadn't gained its current status.


          • #6
            It's definitely a term coined by the BBC to "big up" their own events. It was never used until after they dropped the Grand Prix from their broadcasting schedule. There is nothing more annoying in snooker than Hazel Irvine repeatedly spouting on about it. David Vine would never have stood for it. I couldn't agree more with what gavpowell said above about the UK. To me, yes, it has the history but that is it. Such is it's new shortened frames and carnival style arena it is no longer worthy to be called the second biggest event. It really isn't any different to any other "common" ranking event. You could even argue a case to rank the China Open above it - the ranking money points tariff and match duration give it a higher standing.