Tiger Woods won the last of his 14 majors in 2008 aged 32. After winning the US Open that year he looked a certainty to overhaul Jack Nicklaus’s tally in the four championships that matter most. However, Tiger’s personal life all went pear shaped and he lost his best game on the course. A succession of severe injuries and operations meant Woods had to put his career on hold and Nicklaus’s record seemed safe.
At the end of the 2018 regular season and FedEx Cup playoffs there was plenty of discussion about Woods’ prospects in the majors over the next five years. Nicklaus himself speculated that Woods could be competitive in another 40 majors but that would take him into his 50’s. His sixth Masters title came in Nicklaus’s 47th year so we can assume Woods has another five years to win majors.
Nicklaus won 18 of the big ones and at least three of all those majors. His biggest losing run was between the USPGA Championship in 1980 and that Masters at the age of 46. There will be 20 majors from 2019 to 2023 and Woods must win one in four to reach the record of 19. Its debateable whether his body can handle the rigours of professional golf for more than another five years.
The key to more success in the majors for Woods could be managing his schedule. He had no idea how 2018 would pan out so he took it week-by-week. He played seven events in nine weeks and that schedule caught up with him at the Ryder Cup. Woods was brilliant in winning the Tour Championship but looked like a physical and mental wreck the following week at the Ryder Cup. He did not win any points in the losing US team. Woods looked every day his 42 years and he needs a break.
The former world number one has the luxury of planning a schedule in 2019. He can pick and choose his tournaments and would be welcome in any event around the world. However, he can stay close to home and gear the early season around the Masters Tournament in April. Augusta is a perfect fit for his game and provides his best chance of winning a 15th major championship.
The other three venues for majors in 2019 suit the Woods game. If he doesn’t add to his tally next year the target of 19 looks beyond him. The young players at the top of the game have never competed against Woods at his best. Rory McIlroy couldn’t cope with partnering Woods in the final round of the Tour Championship. He wasn’t intimidated but certainly playing with his hero affected his game. Going head-to-head at the business end of a major would be a huge test.
Woods seemed to be suffering with ailments at the Ryder Cup. However, it was cold on the first two days and all the injuries, operations and busy schedule caught up with Woods. Winning the Tour Championship was more indicative of his prospects in majors. Woods can win at least one more major and the most likely week is when the US Masters is played in April 2019