Tiger Woods claimed he had not yet thought about his chances of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record haul of major titles, after moving to within three of the ‘Golden Bear’ with victory at the 2019 Masters.
Almost 11 years on from his 14th major triumph, Woods sensationally added to his tally with a one-shot triumph at Augusta National, completing an improbable comeback from career-threatening injuries.
Woods is now only three shy of Nicklaus when it comes to major wins, the latter’s record of 18 coming back into focus once more.
“You know, I really haven’t thought about that yet,” said Woods, 43, in a news conference.
“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, and I’m just enjoying 15.”
In a phone call to the Golf Channel, Nicklaus joked that Woods had “got me shaking in my boots”, as he pointed out the fact the next two major championships will take place at courses where Woods has previously won the U.S. Open.
“I felt for a long time he was going to win again,” said Nicklaus, who famously won the Masters for a sixth time at the age of 46 in 1986.
“And, you know, the next two majors are at Bethpage, where he’s won, and Pebble Beach, where he’s won.
“So, you know, he’s got me shaking in my boots, guys.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 14, 2019
Woods trailed overnight leader Francesco Molinari for much of the final round, but seized his chance after the Italian found water at 12 en route to a double bogey.
Nicklaus added: “There wasn’t any question in my mind. After seeing Molinari hit the ball in the water at 12, and Tiger put it on the green. I said, ‘tournament’s over.’ It doesn’t make any difference what anyone else is going to do. Somebody is going to make enough mistakes, and Tiger won’t make any, and he didn’t.”
While Nicklaus said he was certain of a Woods victory from the 12th hole, the outcome certainly did not appear certain as five players shared the lead with the final group coming down the 15th.
“There were so many guys that had a chance to win. The leaderboard was absolutely packed and everyone was playing well,” acknowledged Woods.
The champion prompted laughter as he concluded: “You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I’m balding. This stuff is hard.”