By Mark Lamport-Stokes
THOUSAND OAKS, California, Dec 4 (Reuters) - As Tiger Woods eyes the twilight of a remarkable career, he has his sights on records posted by Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead and a growing pleasure that his children are starting to understand what he does on the course.
World number one Woods, comfortably the greatest player of his generation, has long targeted the 18 major titles claimed by fellow American Nicklaus and the 82 career victories piled up on the PGA Tour by the sweet-swinging Snead.
Woods, who celebrates his 38th birthday at the end of this month, trails Nicklaus's record mark by four and Snead's milestone by three.
Yet just as significant for Woods as he contemplates his 'bucket list' of future golfing achievements is the burgeoning knowledge of his two children, daughter Sam and son Charlie, for what he does for a living.
"It's exciting for me to have my two kids now starting to understand what Daddy does," Woods told Reuters on Wednesday as he prepared for Thursday's opening round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which he hosts.
"It was cool for me this year for the first time to have Charlie there to watch me win. He understood it for the first time, that Daddy is always in the gym lifting weights to be able to get the ball out of the rough and out the trees.
"Or that's how he explains it," Woods added with a flash of his trademark smile.
Charlie was on site at Firestone Country Club in August when his father eased to a seven-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, earning his 79th win on the PGA Tour.
"He gets it now," Woods said of his son. "He is excited about the game and he has even told me he wants to caddie for me one day. But that was never a reality until that event (at Firestone).
"So that gives me a little extra incentive to continue playing and continue working because they get so much enjoyment out of watching me on TV and playing."
While Snead's target is well within reach, the four majors Woods needs to draw level with Nicklaus represent a tally achieved by very few golfers in an entire career.
"Certainly the easier goal is going to be to get to Sam's record," Woods said, speaking on the balcony of the imposing clubhouse at Sherwood Country Club which hosts the World Challenge this week for a 14th and final time.
"You can get there basically from playing your first three events of the year and winning three in a row. But major championships, they're spread out a little bit. It's certainly much harder to get to Jack's number than Sam's.
"But both of them I regard as significant milestones and hopefully one day in my career I will surpass both of them. Certainly I'd like to continue winning for a long period of time. That's important to me."
Winning was a familiar habit for Woods during 2013 as he racked up a season-high five titles on the PGA Tour on the way to being voted Player of the Year, though he was unable to add to his career tally of 14 majors.
"I think it was a fantastic year, unfortunately I didn't win a major championship," said the 37-year-old who has come up empty in golf's blue riband events since his remarkable playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I was close at the Masters (tied for fourth) and the British (Open where he shared sixth place). A couple of little swings here and there and it might have been a different story.
"But I won the Players (Championship) at a venue where I have struggled over the years, so to be able to put that together there was quite a good feeling. To win five times, and get Player of the Year again, that feels pretty good."
This week, Woods is especially excited to be back at the World Challenge, an event he has won five times and which raises money for Tiger Woods Foundation projects and the six learning centers he has set up in the United States.
More than 100,000 scholars have gone through the various learning centers since the first of them was opened in Anaheim, California in 2006.
"It's so important, what we have been to do and how we have been able to transform kids' lives and allow them the opportunity to go to college and provide them with mentors and internships," Woods said.
"And it's all because of this event, starting 15 years ago at Grayhawk (Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona) and now here.
"Sherwood has been an incredible venue over the years and without this event we quite frankly wouldn't have a learning center here in Orange County, we wouldn't have had the ability to create other learning centers around the country."
The tournament moves to Florida next year. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Jack Nicklaus
- PGA Tour