Tiger Woods is no exception. Once the wonder boy who could do no wrong, winning countless events year after year, breaking records and capturing major titles, he is now one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Over the past several years he has hit a bumpy path, to say the very least, both personally and professionally. His game lacks the sharpness we’ve grown accustomed to and who knows exactly why? Was it because of his divorce, because of the public scrutiny over his tainted image and integrity; was it because of a new swing and instructor, a new caddy, the loss of his father years before? It’s probably a combination of all of these things that is causing his recent wavering form.
We all know how tough golf can be and we’ve even seen a few cases of highly skilled champions disappearing completely when they seem to be at the height of their career. That’s how cruel the competitive game can be. However, from day one, Tiger was different, and our expectations of him have mirrored the amazing nature of his accomplishments. It seems so long ago when we watched Tiger win his last major championship, The US Open at Torrey Pines in July 2008. Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest that Tiger would go so long without winning a major. Now everyone is asking the puzzling questions: “Will he regain his old form?”, “Will he dominate again?”, “Will he win the four more majors he needs to tie Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record?”; the Holy Grail of golf accomplishments.
Consider the facts about Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Tiger Woods has won 79 official PGA Tour events, second only to Sam Snead, and six ahead of Jack Nicklaus. Tiger’s career scoring average is 69.39 to Jack’s 70.29. Tiger has won 9 PGA Tour money titles to Jack’s 8. Tiger has a 26% career winning percentage to Jack’s 18% and Tiger has a record of 142 consecutive cuts made when Nicklaus’s best was 105. Some may argue that the majors are the significant factor when determining who the best ever is and that Mr. Nicklaus has played with greater champions of the game: Palmer, Trevino, Watson, Player, Miller, than Woods has. Others may say that the depth of talent is greater in the modern game. I’d give my number one vote to Nicklaus, by a small margin.
Tiger Woods is now 38. Jack Nicklaus won his 15th major, The British Open at St. Andrews, at the age of 38 and his last at 46. With the announcement of Tiger’s back surgery and a reasonable amount of time off for healing, this will give Tiger roughly 30 more attempts to win 4 majors, 5 to surpass Nicklaus.
Back to the question at hand: “Will Tiger win 18 Majors?”. Most people, including Tiger’s peers, seem to think that it is unlikely that Tiger will win the four more majors that he will need to tie Jack Nicklaus’s record and I would agree. It is easy to highlight the point that everything that Tiger has done in his career was unlikely. However, the severity of Tiger’s injuries creates another tremendous obstacle; as if the task of creating history weren’t monumental enough.
I have two responses to the question today, and my mind and passion clash on this conflicting predicament. The/my logical answer is, No, Tiger will not reach 18 majors. An unstable personal life, wavering form, injuries and the odds, are all against his record pursuit. My second response however, is, if I were a betting man, which I am, I’d put a few dollars down that he might still do it. Tiger is the most amazing golfer I have ever seen play the game. I would like nothing more than for him to break the record and create even more history. It would be great for the fans and good for the game. The odds are against him but Tiger has been defying the odds ever since he was born.