Is this the year that Tiger Woods moves closer to Jack Nicklaus’s major record of 18 victories? Tiger hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines going into a 5th season without a major victory. Some people might think that it won’t happen, but if you compare this point in time to where Jack Nicklaus stood he is still on track if not ahead of schedule.
With Tiger’s victory last season at the AT&T National Woods passed Jack Nicklaus on the all-time PGA Tour wins list. Woods’ win at Congressional was the 74th of his career, moving him past Nicklaus into second in the Tour all-time. Tiger now trails only Sam Snead on the all-time win list that number being 82.
So let’s get to the comparison between Tiger and Jack. Nicklaus was 46 when he earned his 73rd and 18th major victory the 1986 Masters. His previous major victory was the 1980 PGA Championship at the age of 40, so Tiger needs three more majors by the age of 40 to stay on pace. So we are going to compare the two players at the same point in their careers, Tiger today, Jack through 1976. Below is a year by year comparison of the two players through the age of 36.
|Major top 5s||29||41|
|Major top 10s||35||48|
|Longest streak of top-5 in major||6||7|
|Longest streak of top-10 in major||8||13|
|Lowest scoring average||8 times||8 times|
|Money leader||9 times||8 times|
Some of the major road blocks in Tigers’ way of breaking Jacks’ are as follows. Pressure to break the record. By pressure, we are talking about self imposed pressure. Tiger himself talks about having Nicklaus’ records taped to his bedroom wall as a child. Chasing Jack’s record has been the be-all, end-all of Tiger’s career.
Early on, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the record was Tiger’s. People were talking about him winning 25 majors.
As he creeps closer to the record while at the same time his career creeps closer to the end, Tiger is going to feel more and more heat from within to get it done. Although Woods may have made it look easy early in his career, it is hard enough just to win an individual tournament without the constant weight of history bearing down while trying to do it.
Injuries, nobody can know for sure how close to 100 percent Woods is or will be going forward. But we do know he has had multiple injuries and surgeries and has missed tournaments because of them. Even Tiger can’t win if he doesn’t play. More important than possibly missing tournaments, though, is that it is not unreasonable to think that Tiger will have to adjust his game in order to stay healthy. Obviously, Tiger will find a way to make things work, but at what level? Does it even seem possible that Woods could play out his career completely unaffected by injuries?
Age this is simple math. Woods has to win five more major championships in order to eclipse Jack’s record. For a bit of perspective, this is equivalent to Nick Faldo/Seve Ballesteros/Phil Mickelson type numbers. But they did it in a full career and Tiger has to do it all after the age of 35. Even without the injuries, this will not be an easy task. It’s going to require Tiger to win a major every couple of years for the remainder of his career. Winning five majors on towards the end of one’s career is no easy task, the only players to do so are Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, but we are talking about Tiger Woods here!
So can Tiger Woods surpass the one record that he holds so near and dear to his heart, only time will tell? That and maybe the play of some of these top ten players in the world, Rory Mcilroy, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, and Adam Scott.
By Mike Hallee “History with Hallee”