Augusta – Tiger Woods ended his 11-year watch for a 15th main title on the Masters.
Now the golf world is questioning whether or not the hunt to overtake Jack Nicklaus’s report of 18 main titles is again on.
The cheers and uncooked emotion of Woods’ victory at Augusta Nationwide on Sunday had barely subsided earlier than the 43-year-old was requested about whether or not he would now resume his chase for Nicklaus’s report.
“You already know, I actually have not considered that but,” Woods mentioned. “I am certain that I will in all probability consider it taking place the street.
“Perhaps, perhaps not. Proper now, I am simply having fun with 15,” he mentioned.
Nicklaus, nonetheless, believes the report is again in play, noting that two of this yr’s remaining majors – the US Open and US PGA Championship – shall be staged at programs the place Woods has gained earlier than.
“I believed for a very long time that he was going to win once more,” Nicklaus advised the Golf Channel. “The following two majors are at Bethpage, the place he has gained and at Pebble Seaside, the place he has gained.
“So, he has received me shaking in my boots.”
Brooks Koepka, the three-time main champion who completed one shot adrift of Woods on Sunday, additionally believes Nicklaus’s benchmark might be below menace.
“Eighteen is, I believe, quite a bit nearer than folks assume,” Koepka mentioned.
“I’d say that is in all probability what all followers, what we’re considering. That he is positively again and 18’s not far.”
Woods had as soon as appeared assured to surpass Nicklaus’s report, dominating the sport from his first Masters triumph in 1997 by to his 2008 US Open victory.
Then got here scandal and accidents, slumping kind and practically two years on the sidelines earlier than he was capable of mount a comeback marketing campaign that stepped up in 2018.
Final yr he went from power to power, contending in each the British Open and PGA Championship earlier than seizing a breakthrough US PGA Tour title on the Tour Championship in September.
The revamped world golf schedule could now help Woods on his quest for extra main glory, with the PGA Championship, at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York, moved up within the calendar to Could 16-19.
When Woods gained the 2002 US Open held at Bethpage he was additionally coming off a Masters win that yr.
Woods was the one participant to complete below par on the lengthy, testing course, his three-under complete of 277 giving him a three-shot win over Phil Mickelson.
The US Open in June shall be held at Pebble Seaside – the place Woods gained by a surprising 15 strokes in 2000.
Doubts that Woods would ever win one other main, and even one other event, lengthy centred on two points: the group of younger, proficient, super-fit and long-hitting gamers he impressed and the calls for majors placed on his personal growing older and infrequently injured physique.
Assessing his impression on the sport on Sunday, Woods famous that spotlight to bodily health exploded within the sport thanks largely to him.
“Lots of the fellows are coaching,” he mentioned. “They’re getting greater, stronger, sooner, extra athletic.
“They’re recovering higher. They’re hitting the ball prodigious distances, and a bit of little bit of that is in all probability attributed to what I did.
“Once I first turned professional, I used to be the one one within the health club, besides Vijay (Singh).”
Now, Woods quipped, even his outdated rival Phil Mickelson – famed for his love of fast-food burgers – is figuring out.
“Issues have come a great distance,” Woods mentioned.
However hours and hours of weight coaching and follow simply aren’t potential for Woods anymore.
After knee accidents and a number of again surgical procedures, the final a spinal fusion that lastly freed him from ache, he is not as much as the ‘reps’ he favoured in his prime.
Though smarter coaching and higher vitamin and bodily remedy helps older golfers compete for longer, Woods admits that preparation and restoration are as essential for him as follow.
“It sucks hopping in these ice baths, nevertheless it’s simply a part of the deal,” mentioned Woods, who rose round four am on Sunday to be warmed up and prepared for his 9:20 closing spherical tee time at Augusta.
He took the lead on the 15th gap and by no means gave it again – reaching another first in a profession full of data and firsts: his first main triumph when not main by 54 holes.
“To witness that, a handful of years in the past I do not know lots of people believed that Tiger would win one other main,” mentioned Tony Finau, who performed alongside Woods and Molinari. “From what I noticed at this time, clearly he isn’t going anyplace anytime quickly.”