It was not at all unfair for Tiger Woods to stay in the moment as the rest of golf cast eyes dreamily forward. on Sunday took his major haul to 15. Suddenly, from the recent position where the discussion felt irrelevant, Jack Nicklaus’s record tally of 18 is back within view. “I don’t know if Jack is worried or not,” said Woods. “I really haven’t thought about that yet. I’m sure that I’ll probably think of it going down the road. Maybe, maybe not. But right now it’s a little soon. I’m just enjoying 15.”
It did not take long for Nicklaus to respond. Worried? You bet he is. “I thought for a long time that he was going to win again,” Nicklaus said of Woods. “The next two majors are at Bethpage, where he has won, and at Pebble Beach, where he has won. So he has got me shaking in my boots.”
As the scale of Woods’s victory, arguably his finest in an illustrious but regularly disrupted career, reverberated around the globe golf had been afforded fresh profile. The 43-year-old is now within one of Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour wins, a record that has stood since the mid-60s. It is the major quest, though, that sets pulses racing.
“It’s nice to get to 15; 18 isn’t a thought,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’s caddie. “Now 15’s here, let’s get to 16. Is the record in play? Sure. The guy’s 43 years old, a guy like him could win when they’re 50. Sixteen is the next mission.”
Woods credited LaCava with a key role in his one-shot Masters victory. The pair had a discussion after a dropped shot at the 5th hole on Sunday, during which the caddie urged Woods to “not carry the weighmitted interest in Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard.After an outstanding loan with Vitesse Arnhem last season, Odegaard is considering his future with Real this summer.A move to Ajax has been mooted for the Norway international, however Bayer at of the world on your shoulders”. LaCava added: “I didn’t put in all the hard work. I didn’t have all the surgeries. I wasn’t down in Florida grinding. So for me, it’s easy. I just show up, try to do a halfway decent job and he has to do all the tough work.”
As Nicklaus acknowledged, the year’s upcoming majors present Woods with an opportunity. Next month’s US PGA Championship will see Woods return to Bethpage, where he won the US Open in 2002. The latter tournament, in June, is at the Pebble Beach links where Woods marched to a 15-stroke victory 19 years ago. He has also prevailed in Tour events hosted at the Californian venue. July’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush had already seen scrambling for tickets even before Woods displayed uncharacteristic euphoria in Georgia.
“Eighteen is, I think, a lot closer than people think,” said Brooks Koepka, one of the men Woods held off to claim his fifth Masters. “I would say that’s probably what all fans, what we’re thinking. He’s definitely back and 18’s not far.”
If Nicklaus would rather retain his place in the record books, he does a fine job of endorsing why Woods might steal it. Even before a ball was struck at Augusta last Thursday the 79-year-old had volunteered Woods as a likely Masters winner on account of evidence gleaned from a recent game of golf; a certain Donald Trump.
“I don’t ever pull against anybody,” Nicklaus said. “Nobody wants their record to be broken. But I certainly wouldn’t want Tiger to be hurt and not to be able to do it. Of course he is now pretty healthy and playing well. I wish him well, I always wish the guys well and I want them to play their best and don’t want anybody to play poorly.
“Everybody has been asking me about Tiger. Can Tiger win again? Will he win another major? I kept saying, I think so, I think he will. The reason I said that was it all depended on Tiger’s health. If Tiger is healthy, then Tiger didn’t need to worry about his driver. He never drove the ball straight anyway. He always got the ball, from somewhere, up around the green. Tiger is such a great putter, has such a great short game. He has such distance control with his irons, unbelievable distance control, best I’ve seen from anybody in the game. If you get a guy that can do that – even if Tiger wasn’t healthy – he could bunt the ball off the tee somewhere. And with his iron game and his short game, he was going to win again. He topped it off this week by driving the ball. It was a special week for him.”
Monday morning delivered confirmation that Woods has risen to No 6 in the world rankings. “The No 1 player in the world is ranked sixth,” claimed Paes of success at Euro 2020 – because of the punishing fixture schedule.England strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are enduring long injury lay-offs, with both facing a battle to prove their fitness ahead of this summer’s tournament.Tottenham ‘ul Azinger, a former US Ryder Cup captain turned television analyst. Though there are still 17 months to go before the European team visits Whistling Straits, Woods has leapt to the summit of the US Ryder Cup rankings. At the end of this year,dmits they need to add to the squad after the appointment of new coach Rino Gattuso.He stated: “Rino is relying on the old guard, which seems natural for their experience, especially with these tactics.”From tomorrow we’ll think about the market.”B in what marks his own first step towards Ryder Cup captaincy, Woods will lead his country in the Presidents Cup. “I’m hoping to make my own team,” said Woods on Sunday, in proving he has playing aspirations for Royal Melbourne.
Long before then Woods is expected to make a tournament return at Quail Hollow at the start of May.
Should that transpire, a routine PGA Tour event will have been handed the kind of boost money cannot buy. The same applies to the wider golf scene.