It says everything about the greatness of Tiger Woods and the glorious new sporting landscape that he has opened, that he has even believed Jack Nicklaus in the impossible.
Jack was on his boat in the Bahamas on Sunday night when asked if he thought Tiger could win a total of 18 majors. The big man chuckled along the telephone line, looking ahead to the next pair of majors staged at two other locations, where Tiger had sprinkled his magic in the past, and told the story of a real fisherman.
& # 39; You know, he makes me shake in my boots, boys, & # 39; said the Golden Bear.
Golf icon Tiger Woods remarkably won his 15th major at the Masters on Sunday
It was the American's first big win since the entire way back in 2008 at the US Open
Winning another four majors to outdo Jack sounds simple enough on paper until you think that this is the amount that a player as good as Ernie Els has won in his entire career. On Sunday evening at the Masters, Woods became the oldest winner of a big one since 46-year-old Nicklaus won his 18th in 1986 – and he has to do it four more times to turn 19? Only eight players have ever won one major 44 or older, let alone more than one.
Of course you'd laugh at the idea out of court if we hadn't seen Sunday at Augusta and a comeback of amazing proportions that put the sport on the front pages of every major newspaper in America. What are four more majors when you've come across the other side of what Tiger has been through over the past 11 years?
In terms of majors played and what they have achieved, Tiger and Jack are almost a step forward. Woods has won 15 majors out of 75 he is now playing as a pro, while Nicklaus had won 16. The difference is their age.
Nicklaus barely suffered his entire career from injury and was only 38 when he reached the three-quarter century mark. Woods, as we know, has had four back surgeries and four knee surgeries and is now 43.
What Woods has to do for him is momentum and what suddenly looks like an absolutely inspired decision to move the USPGA Championship from its traditional date in August to May.
Less than a month before he can play it again in a big hall, wait for the US Open instead of the previous two months. Not only that, but it will be stepped up for the kind of raw New York crowd that always works to its advantage and a powerful location in Bethpage, where he won the US Open in 2002 with three blows to Phil Mickelson. Nicklaus also played his 76th major in New York – and eventually won it.
Jack Nicklaus believes that the 43-year-old can eventually exceed his record of 18 big wins
Four weeks later, it is the national title of America at stake in Pebble Beach, where Woods happened to win only 15 shots in 2000 in the best performance in the history of the game. Suddenly you get an idea why Jack might be a little nervous, and why a current double lead winner in Brooks Koepka says: & # 39; The way Tiger plays 18 is not that far away. & # 39;
That was the thing about Sunday: it was not a one-off. Everyone could see it coming, with the way Tiger fought in the last two majors of last year, when he ran Francesco Molinari close to The Open in Carnoustie and tried Koepka to the limit after an epic duel at the USPGA. It was followed by his first five-year victory over the Tour Championship last September at another Bobby Jones course, East Lake, where he played alongside Rory McIlroy in the final round and comfortably defeated him.
Faith had been restored and now that Woods knows he can win majors again, it has been set up perfectly for the rest of the summer.
& # 39; I have been saying for a while that I thought Tiger would win majors again, because if you won as much as he won, you don't forget what to do & # 39 ;, Nicklaus said. & # 39; I was in 1986 and Tiger was the same here. The most important thing was that he became healthy and once that happened, it became a matter of time. When his opponents started to fill the water hazard on the 12th, I turned to the people I was with and said it was, he would win. In contrast, he had everything under total control. As long as he stays healthy, I see no reason why he won't win more majors. & # 39;
Woods and Nicklaus together in 2001 after the former won the Memorial Tournament
It is clear that Woods is one of the provocative players to come – or the Open at Royal Portrush to follow in July – that everyone really believes it is a game about chasing Nicklaus.
However, what is firmly in his sights is the other life goal that he set himself when he entered the professional game at the age of 21. The record number of wins on the PGA Tour is a total of 82 from Sam Snead. victories, composed over three decades. Woods is now at 81. Given the size of the fairy tales this man writes, what prize does he win, or does he outperform Snead as he scored Nicklaus & # 39; s majors this summer?
This is what happens when you live in the sports world of Tiger, where unimaginable vistas open up and suddenly everything feels good again in the world of golf. Sunday night in Augusta is usually a very sad place, because the city is preparing to be in the spotlight for another year, but this time it was buzzing positively. & # 39; Tiger is back, yes, & # 39; said the sign above the bar in TBonz, the most popular eatery on Washington Road, about 500 meters from the Augusta National entrance.
The cries of ecstasy Woods made on the 18th green on Sunday became the roar all over the world. From a tearing Serena in tennis to LeBron in basketball, from A-rod in baseball to the incomparable Olympic Michael Phelps, the best in their sport lined up to pay homage to one of them.
On Sunday evening in Liverpool, the number one trending item on Twitter was not the victory over Chelsea or Mo Salah, but the Masters. Within a few hours, Nike sold more than $ 20 million in Tiger merchandise online and had a number of items on it.
Woods and the Augusta patrons celebrate after his winning putt during the Masters on Sunday
When Tiger first appeared in 1997, this led to an explosion of interest that changed the sport forever. The reason that the game is currently experiencing a golden age in the ropes is that Woods has naturally inspired talented athletes such as Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth to forget their first love for sports and to play golf.
You could tell from their faces how much they enjoyed having him back when they all stayed on the Augusta site and formed what became an ignorant guard of honor as he made his way from the course to the recording area.
& # 39; Now he is going to inspire another generation & # 39 ;, said Koepka. Certainly, driving ranges around the world and municipal courses can certainly look forward to a peak in numbers. The hair can become thinner these days and the face is anything but fresh, but its charisma remains undamped.
There is also no question of a reduction in desire, since he tries to get the most out of this unexpected second act. That is the regime that is needed to get his body in good condition to participate in a Major. Tiger got up on Sunday at 3-45 hrs to be ready for his 9-20 am start time.
It should make it a lot easier to move forward with Sunday's compelling memories to record, two children aged 10 and 11 to show off and the uncertain knowledge that he will be in each of the three tumultuous majors this year the whole sport world wants to help him.
Tiger is back, all of you.