The first major of the year is in the books for Tiger Woods. Now that he has won his first major in more than 10 years, are the floodgates about to open? Is Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors back in play? We asked some of our golf experts to answer some pressing Tiger questions.
Will Tiger win another major this year?
Bob Harig: I had him winning a major this year but picked the wrong one. Pebble Beach sets up perfectly for him because it doesn’t require the length of a Bethpage or — so I thought — Augusta National. His 2000 U.S. Open victory there is a nice boost, but it is basically irrelevant today. He can maneuver his way around there, and places where a low score wins generally suit him. Why not?
Michael Collins: Well, it’s on now! Bethpage might play long and a little slower in May, but it’s not like Tiger hasn’t succeeded there in the past. Even if he doesn’t win that one, I’m all in on Tiger at Pebble Beach in June. Once, shame on me, twice … ain’t gonna happen. The Open Championship is the one that isn’t right for Tiger, so he’ll probably win that one just for spite and lose the other two.
Ian O’Connor: Yes. I’ll go with the U.S. Open at Pebble, the site of his most dominant major victory. Two majors this season would give him 16, and Jack Nicklaus officially starts to sweat.
Mark Schlabach: It’s not a question of whether we believe he’ll win another one. It’s that nearly every other player on the PGA Tour thinks he’ll win another one. He won the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, the site of next month’s PGA Championship. He won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by a staggering 15 strokes. That’s the site of June’s U.S. Open. He has never played a competitive round at Royal Portrush in Northern Island, which hosts The Open in August. He won at Augusta National because he’s as familiar with the course as anyone and knows how to play it. I think he’ll be in the mix at the PGA Championship and The Open but ultimately come up short with top-five finishes.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz: I said before this season began that he would win two. Why would I change my mind now? As noted, he knows the venues incredibly well, having won majors at Bethpage and Pebble. So why not think big? Clearly, he does, having gone from thinking he was finished with competitive golf to winning the Masters 14 years after he last picked up a green jacket. We could be headed toward the Year of Tiger.
He has 15 major championships in his career. What will his final total be?
Harig: It’s all about his health. Can his back allow him to practice and compete enough to be sharp during the biggest tournaments? He has now contended in three straight majors, which is a lot more than many of the game’s top players can say. Can he win another one? Absolutely. Two more? Maybe. Let’s go with that and say he stops at 17.
Collins: One more this year and two more somewhere down the line in the future. Of course, it’s Tiger, so everything hinges on health. Stay healthy for at least three more years. When he ties Nicklaus, they’ll be no…