By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Tiger Woods said Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships is in his sights following his triumph at the Masters as he enjoys a career “extension” after a prolonged period of injury woes.
In his first comments since winning his 15th major title and fifth green jacket, the 43-year-old American said he always thought Nicklaus’s mark was reachable, provided his career was long enough.
“It took him an entire career to get to 18,” Woods said in an interview with streaming service GOLFTV.
“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, except for a couple of years ago when I couldn’t walk,” he said with a laugh.
“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.”
Everything was going Woods’s way during his final round in Augusta, a win, he said, that had yet to sink in.
The former world number one was two shots behind the leading Francesco Molinari at the 12th at Augusta National when the British Open champion opened the door by finding water en route to a double-bogey.
“It went from a one-horse race with all of us kind of chasing Francesco, to now Pandora’s box is opened up playing 13, where … there’s at least seven with a legitimate chance to win the tournament with six holes to go.”
Woods birdied the next hole to grab the lead and held his nerve despite a logjam of contenders.
He will make his first start since the Masters at the May 2-5 Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina where he will bid to match Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 PGA Tour victories.
However, Woods said he was just happy to show his two children the positive side of a career that was derailed by personal problems and a litany of back injuries that convinced many the best golfer of his generation was done.
“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,” he 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, and it feels good.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)