Tiger Woods is sending a message that he thinks he still has enough left, emotionally and physically, to win three more major championships to tie Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 titles.
Speaking to GolfTV in his first sit-down interview since the Masters, Woods said he has taken some time off since his victory at Augusta National, which still doesn’t feel real.
“Honestly, it’s hard to believe,” Woods said. “I was texting one of my good friends last night ... that I couldn’t believe that I won the tournament. That it really hasn’t sunk in. I haven’t started doing anything. I’ve just been laying there. And every now and again, I’ll look over there on the couch and there’s the jacket.”
That’s the fifth green jacket for the 43-year-old Woods, who hadn’t won a major tournament since the 2008 U.S. Open. Along the way, four back surgeries, a divorce and other personal issues derailed him.
He said he has been spending time with his children - daughter Sam, 11, and son Charlie, 10 - who weren’t born when their father was the most dominant golfer on the planet.
“They never knew golf to be a good thing in my life and only the only thing they remember is that it brought this incredible amount of pain to their dad and they don’t want to ever want to see their dad in pain,” Woods said. “And so to now have them see this side of it, the side that I’ve experienced for so many years of my life, but I had a battle to get back to this point, it feels good.”
He said he hopes - maybe expects — they’ll see this side again.
And no one will take Woods for granted at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Course on Long Island, N.Y., which starts May 16.
Woods said he’ll be ready for a course he already conquered once in a major: the 2002 U.S. Open.
“I’m doing all the visual stuff, but I haven’t put in the physical work yet. But it’s probably coming this weekend,” he said.
Before Woods encountered health and personal problems, it was expected that topping Nicklaus’ major mark was “when” and not “if.” Then the certainty went away, but Woods thought he still had a chance.
“I always thought it was possible, if I had everything go my way. It took him an entire career to get to 18, so now that I’ve had another extension to my career - one that I didn’t think I had a couple of years ago - if I do things correctly and everything falls my way, yeah, it’s a possibility. I’m never going to say it’s not.
“Now I just need to have a lot of things go my way, and who’s to say that it will or will not happen? That’s what the future holds, I don’t know. The only thing I can promise you is this: that I will be prepared.”
—Field Level Media