AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Jack Nicklaus was trying to remember the last time Tiger Woods won a major title.
Three and a half years ago?
Nope, longer than that.
“Really?” Nicklaus shot back incredulously, when told Woods‘ last major victory was the 2008 U.S. Open. “I mean, it’s been a while. He’s going to have to figure it out.”
Woods comes into the Masters as the undisputed favorite. He’s back on top of the world rankings. He’s already won three times this year on the PGA Tour.
“He’s playing the best,” defending Masters champion Bubba Watson said. “He’s No. 1 in the world. That’s all you need to look at.”
Of course, everyone keeps looking at Woods‘ more recent record in the events that really matter.
Since turning pro, he’s never gone this long without winning a major. His drought at Augusta _ a tournament he’s won four times _ stretches back to 2005, his longest winless stretch in any of the four biggest championships.
Which brings us back to Nicklaus, whose 18 major titles are more than any other golfer, who set the standard that Woods has been chasing most of his life.
When Woods hobbled to his 14th major title back in `08, essentially winning on one good leg, it seemed certain he would take down Nicklaus‘ mark.
Nothing could stop him.
Then, of course, his personal life fell apart and everything seemed to change.
Suddenly, Woods wasn’t this invincible machine. A new wave of young golfers, led by Rory McIlroy, arrived on the scene and didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by the Tiger mystique.
With each passing year, each year without adding a major title to his resume, it became a little tougher to envision Woods leaping over the lofty bar set by Nicklaus.
“Obviously, the older he gets and if he doesn’t win, it makes my record move out further,” the Golden Bear said Tuesday. “I still expect him to break my record. I think he’s just too talented, too driven, and too focused on that.”
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