Credit To: Josh Peter, USA TODAY
Whether Tiger Woods will win another major championship no longer seems to be worth asking. That he will looks almost inevitable after his play at the PGA Championship and the British Open.
So let’s ask the more interesting, if slightly premature, question: Can Tiger eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record for major championships?
That once looked almost inevitable, too. A decade ago, after all, Tiger won the 2008 U.S. Open for his 14th major, pulling within four majors of Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18. But then his personal life unraveled, and back problems only deepened his on-course struggles.
And so for several years, the idea of Tiger matching Nicklaus’ record, much less eclipsing it, seemed unthinkable.
Barring injury or unforeseen circumstances, the quest will resume in April at the Masters, when Tiger will tee it up at one of his favorite courses at the age of 43. Too old?
Hardly. He looks fitter than many players 10 years, even 15 years, younger than he is. And history offers some hope.
More: Ryder Cup: Tiger’s strong finish at PGA likely cements spot as captain’s pick
More: Brooks Koepka holds off Tiger Woods to win PGA Championship
Lee Trevino won the PGA Championship in 1984 at age 44 and Vijay Singh won it in 2004 at age 41. Raymond Floyd won the U.S. Open at age 43 in 1986 and Hale Irwin won it in 1990 at age of 45. And let’s not forget that in 1986 Nicklaus won the Masters at age 46.
The oldest golfer to win a major was Julius Boros, who at 48 won the 1968 PGA Championship. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s use that as a baseline and say Tiger will be capable of winning a major at the age of 48, which will give him him six seasons to chase the record.
If he plays the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship every year, Tiger will have another 24 chances to win major championships. Tying Nicklaus would require four majors and a winning percentage of 16.7 percent during that stretch of 24 majors.
Beating Nicklaus’ record would require five majors and a winning percentage of 20.8 percent over that stretch of majors.
Tough? Absolutely. Doable?
The question is finally worth asking again.