Tiger Woods: I’ve got a decade to break Jack Nicklaus Major record

‘Let’s say I give myself 10 years. That’s 40 major championships. That’s a lot of majors’

Tiger Woods believes he has 10 years to break Jack Nicklaus’ Major record of 18. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Tiger Woods has set himself a target of a decade more at the top level as he looks to overhaul the majors record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus. After years of physical turmoil this may be regarded by some as a bold aspiration yet Woods defied all odds to win a 15th major, at Augusta National, in April. Since that juncture, all bets have been off.

In a break from his preparations at Pebble Beach, where he will attempt to win a fourth US Open starting on Thursday, Woods was asked to what extent Nicklaus’s total features as motivation. The 43-year-old took a deliberately broad approach to answering.

“If I keep progressing how I am physically and how I’m getting better and better, I just need to give myself chances,” he said. “Hypothetically, let’s say I give myself 10 years. That’s 40 major championships. That’s a lot of majors.

“And now the trick is, can I keep myself healthy enough and strong enough and fast enough to endure all that, considering what my body has gone through. That’s where I need help with all my trainers, physios, my workout regimes, and hopefully I can make that happen.”


Woods had earlier played down the sense that winning 18 majors or more features most in his competitive outlook. “What’s important to me is that I’m back playing again,” he said. “This game was taken away from me for a few years. And I miss competing, I miss playing.

“Now I have an opportunity to do that again and also to be able to share it with my kids. They don’t remember me enjoying golf, because all they remember is Daddy on the ground in pain.

“Now, golf brings me so much joy, they’re able to see that. And if it brings a smile to their faces, it brings a smile to my own.”

Woods was clearly short of fitness and energy en route to missing the cut at last month’s US PGA Championship at Bethpage. While unwilling to specify the nature of the affliction, he admitted he was “in rough shape”.

The same fate, many fear, will befall Pebble Beach this week. The US Open’s organisers have been widely criticised in recent years for course setup. Woods hinted at such concerns once more at a venue where he won by 15 shots in 2000. He will not yet fully endorse the strategy deployed by the United States Golf Association.

“The greens are all slanted, very small targets,” Woods said. “And if they ever firm up then we have a totally different ballgame.

“This week I feel like I’m trending in the right direction. I need one more day of prep. I want to see the course when it’s a little bit closer to game time. I know they’re holding it back but I just want to see how much are they going to let it go and show us how it’s going to be come Thursday.”

With that inevitable change of backdrop in mind, Woods opted for a driving range and putting session on the California coast on Tuesday rather than playing practice holes. “I did the same thing at Augusta,” he said. “I am just trying to save my energy. It is more important for me to feel energised than it is to go out there and get wear and tear.”

Brooks Koepka, who took a second consecutive US PGA title last month and is seeking a third US Open win in a row, has aimed a broadside at the tournament's host broadcaster for what he perceives as a lack of respect.

Koepka makes an effective habit of sourcing pre-major grudges, with this one linked to coverage. “There’s a commercial running now where I’m not even in it,” he said. “And Fox [SPORTS]put it up for a preview of the US Open.

“So I don’t know, you guys tell me. I wasn’t on the list of notables [on day one of the 2018 US Open] after winning it the year before. There’s a couple of things where it’s just mind-boggling … it’s like, really? Like, how do you forget that?

“A bunch of people on Twitter tagged me in it, in the promo, and I guess were amazed that I wasn’t in it. I just clicked on the link and saw it and watched it. I was just kind of shocked.

“They’ve had over a year to kind of put it out. So I don’t know. Somebody probably got fired over it or should.” A laugh – just about – followed. - Guardian