On Tiger Woods' 44th birthday, we wonder what the future might hold for the 15-time major champion and whether or not another is on the horizon
To even have this conversation says plenty about the man. To limit him to just one more speaks even louder volumes. Tiger Woods, the 44-year-old with the fused back and more operations than Tom Watson has major titles, spent 2016 and 2017 not playing in any majors. Coming away from Portrush in July everyone was calling for him to cut himself some slack and just take the rest of the season off.
As things stand he has five Green Jackets, three US Opens, three Opens and four PGA Championships.
Starting with the last part first then another PGA victory would move him level with Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen and joint top of that particular list. All of which would be lovely but probably not enough to float this boat so we’ll eliminate that from our enquiries.
Another W at Augusta National would also move him level with, again, Nicklaus which would be quite a cherry on the cake. Nicklaus’ six wins came in a 23-year spell, from 1963 to 1986, and Woods’ first one took place in 1997 so any future victory would at least tie this which you can almost hear Tiger trotting out, in clipped sentences, should it ever happen.
But it feels like we’ve had our storybook sign-off from Magnolia Lane so we’ll move our attentions to the US Open.
Woods has three of these which doesn’t seem enough for a player of his skills but, once again, another one and he’d move level with the top table of Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson.
Next year we’re off to Winged Foot where he missed his first major cut as a pro in his 38th start with the huge asterisk of having had a lengthy lay-off following the death of his dad, Earl. The rest of 2006 would play out with two major wins and six straight victories on tour.
Looking further ahead to 2021 and we’re at Torrey Pines where he won on one leg and then to Brookline where Woods has played a Ryder Cup but not a major. And then to Los Angeles Country Club where no major has ever been staged.
But Tiger is a traditionalist. Look at the way he dismantled Royal Melbourne and listen to him at every pre-Open press conference. He’s said on many occasions that the Open Championship is his favourite big one and where he’ll talk, with some enthusiasm, about how the game should be played.
Coming into the Lytham Open in 2012 he said: “It’s the only tournament besides the sandbelt courses in Australia that we can actually use the ground as a friend and bounce the ball into the greens. Modern golf is all up in the air.”
The next few years take us to St George’s, St Andrews, Hoylake and then to maybe Muirfield or Turnberry in 2023. You’ll read plenty next year about how Woods lost a ball on the 1st hole of the 2003 Open at Sandwich before taking a treble-bogey seven and finishing two back of the eventual champion Ben Curtis. He missed the 2011 renewal through injury.
But we’re talking about Tiger Woods and if we’re only going to get the one more major blockbuster then why not the St Andrews for the 150th Open Championship. Who knows what state his body will be in come the summer of 2021 but, with some bright skies, some scorched turf, and the greatest iron player picking his way around the Old Course a fourth Open seems the perfect way to bring the major curtain down.
To end on a fanciful note, the oldest winner of a major is Julius Boros at 48 years, four months, 18 days. Should Tiger win the 2024 PGA at Valhalla on Sunday May 19 then he’d have eclipsed Boros with two days to spare.