When you’re Tiger Woods, you live for this week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. From the beginning, he placed his focus on winning major championships. With 14 to his credit, second-most in history, Woods has established himself among golfing greats. But that is not enough.
That is why he looks at the U.S. Open that begins Thursday with so much hope, so much optimism. Having won two weeks ago at The Memorial helps, too, especially since it was a come-from-behind win. He is seeking to move closer to Jack Nicklaus, who holds the record for major championships with 18.
Woods has been stuck four majors behind Nicklaus for the last four years. He last conquered a major in 2008 — the U.S. Open over Rocco Mediate at Torry Pines. To take this U.S. Open will require length, skill and patience, which is just how Woods likes it.
“I’ve always preferred it to be more difficult, there’s no doubt,” he said. “And I’ve always preferred it to be fast. I just like a fast golf course, because then you have to shape shots. You have to think.”
Woods will play the first round Thursday with the popular Bubba Watson, winner of this year’s Masters, and long-time rival Phil Mickelson, making for must-see golf.
The Olympic Club is a long and difficult course, protected by water and bunkers. Most experts insist a score of even round after four days could be enough to claim victory. For Woods, he said a win this week would do little to deter his detractors from doubting him.
“I think even if I do win a major championship, it will still be, ‘You’re not to 18 yet’, or ‘When will you get to 19,’ ” Woods said. “I’ve dealt with that my entire career, ever since I was an amateur and playing all the way through and to professional golf. It hasn’t changed.”
Woods has won twice this year and insists he’s close to regaining the excellence that dominated the sport for several years prior to injuries plagued him — and his well-documented personal troubles that led to a divorce from wife, Elin. At 36, no matter what happens at the Olympic Club, Woods said he still has time to topple Nicklaus mark.
“Well, Jack did it at 46, right?” Woods said of the age Nicklaus was when he won his last major. “So I’ve got 10 (years).Tom Watson almost pulled it off at 59. It can be done. We can play for a very long time. And that’s the great thing about staying in shape and lifting weights and being fit is that the playing careers have extended.”