If you think Tiger Woods is planning to slow down, you’re wrong. At the press conference at the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup in Mexico City, he made it clear that his 14 majors are not the end of the road for him.
“I would love to — when all is said and done–to have won more than 18 major championships,” Woods remarked confidently. “My career is not over yet. I’m only trailing in basically two categories and that’s major championships — I got 14, Jack’s got 18 — I’ve got 79 wins on tour, where San Snead ( has), 82.
After pointing to his record and his accomplishments, he indicated that he not only has a great last 20 years, he intends to have very good next ten years.
“The next time I do play on tour, I will be 40, and hopefully my forties will be as successful as what VJ’s (Vijay Singh) forties were.” Woods added. Singh won more tournaments in his forties than anyone, eclipsing what was thought to be an impossible task, beating Sam Snead’s post-40 record. Singh won 20 times, including the PGA Championship, after age 40. Snead won 17 times including the Masters.
“I’ve been at the highest level for so far 20 years, and, hopefully, for many more to come. But first of all, I got to get healthy,” he said.
In fact, he said that longevity and playing against living legends was one of the best things about golf.
“The guys I use to play practice rounds with and guys I used to play against and who I have been beaten or I have beaten down the stretch in tournaments are now on the Champions Tour,” he said. “I’m getting towards there and already facing the younger crop of guys, and it’s neat to see the Spieths and the Days and the McIlroys and the next young 20-year-olds doing what they’re doing.”
He said he had discussed the topic with Jack Nicklaus.
“Jack played with Hogan, he played with Sarazen and then he had Player and Palmer and played against Trevino, Watson, Miller, Seve, Langer and you name ‘em,” Woods explained.
“In my particular case, I’ve had four knee operations and two back operations, so six total is six too many, but you know we’re asking our bodies to do something that it is probably not meant to do,” Woods said about his most recent surgical experience.
Since his surgery, his biggest physical activity has been watching his children play soccer. He said he’s ready to start being goalie, but refuses to dive for balls at this stage. He’s not ready for that.
“I hope it doesn’t take that long for me to be pain free because there’s a process to go through,” he added about the rehab process. “Then I have to get explosive. Then I have to build that explosive endurance, build the practice for long periods of time, then eventually play for long periods of time.”
Complicating it all is the fact he had just gotten to the point where he was comfortable with his swing before the recent surgery and now he’s back to square one.
“It is the chicken and the egg,” he said. “How do I change my golf swing? Well I got to practice more. I can’t practice more because I got to rehab. Rehab more, that means I can’t practice as much. So it was it was a tough situation going through that.”
It pretty much describes his last 18 months. Unfortunately, comebacks are now becoming as much of his legacy as his victory record. Should he come back from this latest procedure to win 20 more tournaments, it would be a superior accomplishment.
No doubt he has his eye on Ryder Cup play. But for now, he’s sidelined, although he participated in the much discussed Ryder Cup task force and was part of the committee formed by the task force.
He thinks the committee, comprised of veteran players, has come up with the right plan.
“I’ve been a part of the Ryder Cup since 1997, and Jim (Furyk) was on the same team as me, and ‘97 made our appearance in Valderrama,” Woods recalled. Steve Stricker, he said, played on the Presidents Cup starting in 1996, and Phil Mickelson made his first Ryder Cup in 1995. In addition, there is the experience of former and current captain, Davis Love III.
Woods explained that in their deliberations, the committee was thinking about the future, not the past.
“That Ryder Cup committee, we’re trying to, not set it up for just this Ryder Cup coming up in 2016,” he explained. “This is a ten Ryder Cup process, so you’re looking at 20 years. This is going outlive us, outlive our playing days.”
He quote Mickelson who, according to Woods, said that they were not going to win the next ten Ryder Cups, but they are shooting for seven out of the next ten. The committee wanted a long-term game plan instead of having captains trying to reinvent it every time.
“The Europeans have done a fantastic job of creating a blueprint that has worked well for them,” he added. “We’re trying to do the same thing right now with our Ryder Cup culture, and having the team leaders being guys have been part of cups for over 20 years — or around 20 years — I think it was an important move and a very important strategic move for us.”
When will we see Tiger Woods next? If the stars are aligned, it will be in April at Augusta National Golf Club. For anyone with 14 majors, the next one is the most important.