Record too long for Tiger

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - AN­DREW BOTH

MATCH­ING or break­ing the record for ca­reer ma­jor ti­tles might just be a bridge too far for Tiger Woods, said his for­mer men­tor Mark O’Meara.

With 15 ma­jor cham­pi­onships, Woods is three short of the mark held by Jack Nick­laus, and at age 43 is bat­tling ‘Fa­ther Time’ in his quest to catch the Golden Bear.

A decade ago it seemed a for­mal­ity that Woods would over­take Nick­laus, but in­juries and scan­dal were fol­lowed by a decade-long drought that only ended when he won the Mas­ters in April.

“Do I think he’s go­ing to catch Jack’s record? Per­son­ally, I don’t, but I’d love to see it hap­pen. But three more ma­jors, with the com­pe­ti­tion as stiff and as good as these play­ers are, it’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult,” O’Meara said.

O’Meara, 19 years Woods’ se­nior, took him un­der his wing when Woods turned pro in 1996 at the age of 20, and still calls him a “kid”.

It was a fruit­ful re­la­tion­ship for both. Woods quickly learned the ropes, while O’Meara took his own game to an­other level, win­ning two ma­jors at age 41, the 1998 Mas­ters and Bri­tish Open. He re­mains the old­est to have won two ma­jors in the same year.

O’Meara, whose ca­reer over­lapped with that of both Nick­laus and Woods, said the two had sev­eral traits in com­mon, not least that they hit the ball fur­ther in their prime than pretty much all of their ri­vals.

These days, how­ever, Woods is giv­ing up dis­tance to the likes of the world’s three top-ranked play­ers — Brooks Koepka, Rory McIl­roy and Dustin John­son.

“When Jack dom­i­nated the game, the qual­i­ties (he) had that made him the great­est player ... those are three el­e­ments that Tiger Woods has,” O’Meara said.

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