CHICAGO — A rejuvenated Tiger Woods said he is ready to bounce back from his PGA Championship flop at the Memorial Tournament on Thursday as he chases another golfing landmark.
The 43-year-old former world number one came crashing back to earth at the PGA after his victory in the Masters, missing the cut after a wayward opening two rounds.
With next month’s US Open fast approaching, Woods added this week’s Jack Nicklaus-hosted tournament in Dublin, Ohio to his schedule in an attempt to hone his game for Pebble Beach.
The 15-time major winner practiced on Monday and Tuesday before partnering NFL legend Peyton Manning in Wednesday’s pro-am.
Afterwards, Woods said he feels ready to put his disappointing performance at Bethpage Black behind him this week.
“I feel a lot better,” Woods said. “I just need to play a little bit more now. Hopefully, it will be four solid days this week heading into the US Open.”
Woods, who is within three majors of Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18 majors, could match Sam Snead’s mark of 82 PGA Tour victories with a win in Ohio this week.
“To get into those numbers it takes longevity and hot years,” said Woods, who has five previous victories at Memorial.
“You need multiple winning seasons and you need to do that for decades. That’s something I’m proud of. That’s not something that happens overnight. To be able to come this close to get to one behind Sam Snead has been pretty amazing.”
“It’s been a pretty amazing run throughout my 20 some-odd years out here.”One of Woods rivals this week, Rory McIlroy, believes the tally of titles accumulated by Snead and Woods may never be equalled.
McIlroy said Woods’ 81 career victories were more notable than his haul of 15 majors.
“In this day and age, it’s more impressive than his major tally,” McIlroy said.
“If you’re around for 20 years, that’s four a year, every year. It’s very, very impressive. I think if you’re winning multiple times a year, you’re doing pretty well.”
Woods has won nearly twice as many PGA Tour titles than his nearest rival among active golfers, with Phil Mickelson on 44 wins, ninth overall.
“I think with the way the game is going you’re going to see guys have shorter careers if they want to,” McIlroy said. “I think that could definitely be a number that stands the test of time, for sure.”
Nicklaus, who warmly greeted Woods on the first tee for his pro-am round on Wednesday, said he believes his record 18 majors could fall if Woods remains healthy.
“Who knows how long his body is going to stay together? You’ve had as many operations as he’s had, he may be solid enough that it’s all right. And if he is, I think he probably will break my record,” Nicklaus said.