Here are the simple facts about Tiger Woods at major championships; the guy has 14 major wins, second most all-time, and four behind Jack Nicklaus' incredible total of 18. He has won four straight majors, and two in one season four times. But since 2008 Tiger has won exactly zero majors, coming the closest at the '09 PGA Championship but finishing in the top-10 only once a season ago at the big four.
But that was then, and this is a different Tiger Woods, a man with three PGA Tour wins already in 2013 and six wins in the last year on tour (not to mention world No. 1 again). They might not have been majors, but Woods has learned how to win again and thinks that he can't just break Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins, but shatter it.
In the latest Sports Illustrated issue with Woods on the cover, Michael Rosenberg caught up with some of the people closest to Tiger (Woods declined an interview with the magazine) and the most telling quote came from his old Stanford teammate and current Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III.
"He is focused on 20," Begay said. "That may be a little hard to believe, considering what's transpired in the last three years, but that's where his focus is. He thinks he is capable of winning 20 majors."
It's an interesting concept to think that Woods thinks he can win six more majors at the age of 37, but remember, this is a guy that used to pin Nicklaus' major record to his wall as a kid, so he obviously isn't scared to shoot for the stars.
The big question is where do they come from? Tiger can definitely win at Augusta National, but he hasn't since 2005 and would definitely need to put together a solid putting round there over the next few seasons to give himself a chance. Merion, the site of this year's U.S. Open, looks like a lay-up for Tiger if, again, he is putting well and then he has St. Andrews in 2015 and 2020 (most likely) which always looks good for a man that dominated that course the first two times he played it in majors (he struggled in 2010 at the Old Course during the height of his swing problems).
That's four there, but really, how can we predict this stuff? When Woods won that U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on one leg it looked like he might win 30 majors before it was all said and done, but as the old saying goes, you've gotta believe, and at least for Tiger that has never been a problem.
Next week will be a huge tell in his quest to get to 20. If he snags his fifth green jacket at Augusta National this season, the flood gates could open and things could get very interested for Tiger and that Nicklaus record that seemed all but safe a season ago.
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