Tiger Woods’ stunning major symmetry with Jack Nicklaus

Scott Halleran

Tiger Woods seeks his 15th major championship in Augusta in April at the age of 37. Here’s the thing: Jack Nicklaus was the same age and had played in just as many pro events (60) when he rang up No. 15.

As Tiger Woods prepares to renew acquaintances with Rory McIlroy and go for his mind-blowing 76th PGA Tour win at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship, the 14-time major championship winner no doubt has Georgia on his mind.

With the Masters looming in mid-April, Jack Nicklaus suggested recently that Woods better put a hitch in his giddy-up if he hoped to surpass the Golden Bear’s record of 18 major championships. One would be hard-pressed to argue that assertion, given Woods has not shrugged into a green jacket since 2005 or lifted any other major trophy since 2008.

But here’s a statistic (golf clap/@JRayESPNGolf) that would appear to support Tiger’s oft-repeated contention that he has plenty of time to grab his next brass ring -- and four more for good measure.

That’s kinda unbelievable. Are you sure, Justin? Yup.

Nicklaus, who claimed he believed Woods would eventually better his remarkable achievement, had this to say on NBC during the final round of the Honda Classic:

''I still think he'll break my record,'' Nicklaus said Sunday. ''Tiger's talent, at 37...it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more -- or six or seven -- is that big a stretch.''

Woods has been in search of that elusive 15th since he won the 2008 U.S. Open and has not really been a factor down the stretch of a grand slam event since Y.E. Yang shockingly snatched that two-stroke lead away from him at the 2009 PGA Championship. Nicklaus, who has repeatedly averred that he expected Tiger to one-up him in the majors category, offered his latest opinion long after Woods finished a sloppy 4-over 74 final round at PGA National that included four double bogeys, two lost balls, and, no doubt, a partridge in a pear tree.

"I still think he can do it," Nicklaus stated. "But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to."

Here are some additional figures to mull over as you wait for Tiger and Rory -- fresh off Wednesday’s boffo “my bad” presser -- to take the field at Doral:

Most majors won after age 37:

  • Ben Hogan (6)
  • Nicklaus (4)
  • Sam Snead (4)
  • Gary Player (3)

Two active players under age 40 with multiple major trophies:

  • Woods (14)
  • McIlroy (2)

And this final nugget from Ray: Tiger can lose six more majors in a row before falling off Jack’s pace. Nicklaus won his 15th major, the 1978 Open Championship, when he was 38.

As for this week's no-cut event in Miami, Thursday’s marquee grouping of Woods, McIlroy and Luke Donald will meet on the 10th tee at 11:53 a.m. ET. The threesome will tromp around Donald Trump’s TPC Blue Monster together again on Friday starting at 12:59 p.m. from tee No. 1.

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