Monday, August 13, 2007

Tiger's path to 19, major-by-major

Now that Tiger Woods has won his 13th major championship - so much for the notion that Southern Hills with all its dogleg par-4s doesn’t fit Tiger’s game - he’s one step closer to breaking Jack Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18 professional major trophies.

Five more to tie.

Six to break the record.

Probably 10 more majors by the time Tiger calls it a career.

So where might Tiger make history?

Let’s look at it year by year and it may come clear to us.

2008: Tiger hasn’t won the Masters since 2005 (gee, two whole years) but he’ll get No. 5 next April. That gets him to 14 majors. The U.S. Open goes to Torrey Pines near San Diego so Tiger gets No. 15 there. He wins the Buick tournament there every year and it’s like a homecourse advantage to Tiger. The British is at Royal Birkdale and, since he can’t win every major every year, let’s say this one goes to someone else as does the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

2009: Let’s figure Tiger wins the Masters every other year for a while so he doesn’t win at Augusta in ’09. The U.S. Open returns to Bethpage where he won the first time it was played there. Tiger likes to collect things so he collects another Bethpage victory, No. 16. The British Open goes back to Turnberry, one of the great links in the world, and Tiger loves links golf. He hasn’t won at Turnberry, where the great Nicklaus-Tom Watson duel was waged. He gets No. 17 within sight of the Ailsa Craig, letting someone else win the PGA at Hazeltine.

2010: Tiger’s been keeping track of Jack’s major championship record since he was big enough to swing a 9-iron and he has a knack for the big stage. Tiger ties Jack’s record of 18 majors with a victory at the Masters, which would also tie Jack’s record of six wins at Augusta. It’s the perfect scenario. And No. 19 comes two months later at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the spot where Nicklaus said if he had one round to play, he would play it there. It’s also the place where Nicklaus waved goodbye to the U.S. Open.

And the rest is more history.