Jack Nicklaus, who you might know of as one of the greatest golfers of all time, is the current holder of one of golf’s most prestigious records — he’s won 18 majors. He’s long thought that there was only one man who could challenge it — a healthy Tiger Woods. “If he’s healthy, I think Tiger’s got 10-plus years to play top quality tournament golf,” the legend said to reporters before the Memorial Tournament in Dublin. “He’s got a little over 40 tournaments to play the major championships, he’s only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don’t think that should be a big deal. But then again,” Nicklaus said, “he’s gotta do it.”
Woods, 38, has won 14 Majors so far, with his last victory occurring in 2008 at the U.S. Open. The golf superstar recently bowed out of competition earlier this month in order to have nerve surgery. With Tiger admitting to the public that he had no idea when he’ll be back, Nicklaus’s prediction seems a little more far out than it would have this time last year, especially since Woods started off 2014 in such a horrid fashion, offering a pair of subpar tournament performances and promptly losing his No. 1 ranking. He now sits No. 3.
Luckily for Tiger, professional golf doesn’t suffer from the same absurdly short window that punctuates the careers of other, more active athletic endeavors. On the conservative end of Nicklaus’s statement, a 48-year-old Woods could very possibly come out on top of a few more Majors at the eve of his retirement — since that would only tie the record for the oldest winner of a major, as Julius Boros won the 1968 U.S. Open at the same age. So, using that as an estimate — that Woods will play his last rounds at the majors in 2025, and that he’ll recover from his surgery at a baseline time, the surgery that has already caused him to withdraw from this year’s U.S. Open — there’s a distant possibility of him being out of competitive play until August.