Column: Mickelson and Woods both need this Open

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He’s coming in off a high, winning the Memorial two weeks ago with a chip-in that took its rightful place among his more iconic shots. After a debacle at the Masters, where he screamed at shots, kicked clubs and generally acted like a spoiled brat, he seems to have gotten his game and his act together in time for the official start of the summer major season.

He was once thought of as a lock to break the record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, but he’s been stuck at 14 since winning the Open four years ago at Torrey Pines in what now seems like a lifetime ago. But he’s yet to prove he can win again in the only place it has ever mattered for Woods _ in the majors.

“I think even if I do win a major championship, it will still be, `You’re not to 18 yet’ or `When will you get to 19?’ `’ Woods said. “It’s always something with you guys.”

As if Woods needed a reminder, Nicklaus was in the media room Wednesday reminiscing about his four Open titles and how he won them. He was introduced as the greatest player of all time and he will always be, until someone wins more of the tournaments that really count than he did.

Woods once talked about finishing his career early and moving on, but the harder winning has become for him, the longer his sights are set.

“Well, Jack did it at 46, right? So I’ve got 10 (years),” Woods said. “Watson almost pulled it off at 59. It can be done. We can play for a very long time.”

With each passing major, though, that time becomes shorter. There have been 15 majors since Woods last won at Torrey Pines, and he’s no closer to his career goal of passing Nicklaus than he was the day he beat Rocco Mediate on one leg in a playoff.

Unlike Mickelson, Donald and Westwood he’s got three Open titles in the record books.

That doesn’t mean he’s not just as desperate to win this one as he was his first.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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