To all those who believe Tiger Woods is running out of time to overhaul Jack Nicklaus’s record major haul, the 43-year-old has a message: “I might have 10 years to do it”.
Woods plays here at this week’s US Open at the scene of his most dominant display of his career - his 15-shot victory in 2000 - and, after his comeback win at the Masters two months ago he is regarded as one of favourites. But while many are preaching urgency in his quest to win the three more majors he requires to catch Nicklaus on 18, Woods believes he has longer than people think.
"Hypothetically, if I give myself another 10 years that's 40 majors," Woods said. “The trick is can I keep myself healthy and strong enough considering what my body has been through? That's where I need help with all my trainers and physios and workout regimes, and hopefully, I can make that happen."
When missing the cut at last month’s USPGA, Woods looked a shadow of the player who had rolled back the years five weeks before with his first major triumph in 11 years. Yet having missed out on a prep event between Augusta and Bethpage, Woods also rested the day before the season’s major begun.
He still would not reveal the exact nature of the problem, but it obviously affected him in the first two rounds. When asked if he was sick or stiff, Woods replied: "All of the above. I was in rough shape… Augusta I was right where I needed to be; Bethpage, a different story. I was good going into the week, unfortunately just didn't feel well.
"And this week I feel like I'm trending in the right direction. I need one more day of prep. I want to see the golf course when it's a little bit closer to game time. I know they're holding it back. But I just want to see how much are they going to let it go and show us how it's going to be come Thursday."
What Woods would give even to begin to emulate the form he showed at the turn of the millennium, particularly on the greens.
"It's crazy it's been 19 years, but I still remember most of the shots I hit that week,” he said. “I don't know how I pulled it off, but on seaside poa annua, I never missed a putt inside 10 feet. It happened to be a very special week. I made everything.”