Tiger Woods shook up golf at the Masters, it might be just the beginning

April 18, 2019

Jack Nicklaus was fishing in the Bahamas on Sunday, April 14, 2019, as Tiger Woods resumed circling him in the quest for Nicklaus’s record of 18 major golf championships. But in his news conference after winning the Masters for his 15th major title, Woods didn’t sound exactly bloodthirsty.

“I’m sure that I’ll probably think of it going down the road,” Woods said, referring to Nicklaus’s 18 victories at golf ’s four major tournaments. “Maybe. Maybe not. But right now, it’s a little soon, and I’m just enjoying 15.”

Then again, Woods didn’t have to say much. His clubs had delivered a convincing argument that he is “trending in the right direction,” as Woods is fond of saying. Tony Finau, who was grouped with Woods in the final round, was more succinct.

“From what I saw today,” Finau said Sunday, “obviously he’s not going anywhere.”

Brooks Koepka, who has won three majors since 2017, felt confident going out on this limb: “I think 18 is a whole lot closer than people think.”

How about three-months-off close?

What Woods put into play Sunday was the elusive calendar Grand Slam — winning all four majors in the same year. No player in the modern era has done it. In golf ’s storied history, only one man, the amateur Bobby Jones in 1930, has managed it.

Woods has come exquisitely close. He claimed the United States Open, the British Open and the PGA. Championship in 2000 and the Masters in 2001 for what became known as the Tiger Slam.

The next two majors are at courses on which Woods already has a record of success.

The PGA Championship will take place next month at Bethpage Black on Long Island, site of Woods’s wireto- wire victory at the 2002 U.S. Open (he also tied for sixth when the tournament returned there in 2009).

The U.S. Open is in June at Pebble Beach in California, where Woods won the 2000 tournament by a record 15 strokes — and where he also won the annual PGA Tour event the same year. If Woods is going to chase the great white whale of golf records, he couldn’t ask for more inviting seas.

During an 11-year major title drought that was exacerbated by injuries and ignominy, Woods needed to be in contention on the back nine in the final round a couple of times before he broke through. His first tests came at last year’s final two majors, and Woods acquitted himself well, sharing sixth place at the British Open and finishing second at the PGA Championship.

Even with the depth in the men’s game, do you really want to bet against Woods?

“In the tournaments I do play in,” he said Sunday, “I’ll be fully invested and committed to playing and trying to win.”

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