TULSA, Okla. - Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional major championships, which appeared untouchable a decade ago, is now within Tiger Woods' reach with another three-year period similar to the one he's just enjoyed.
Even if Woods doesn't want to admit it.
"When you first start your career, 18 is just a long way away," Woods said Sunday after his two-shot victory over Woody Austin in the PGA Championship, at Southern Hills Country Club.
"And even though I'm at 13, it's still a long way away. You can't get it done in one year."
Woods victory Sunday, his fourth PGA title and second in a row, tied him with Bobby Jones for second place, unofficially, since Jones' total includes U.S. and British Amateurs.
Woods called upon all his skills. He split the fairways with 3-woods and irons and the occasional driver. He rarely missed a green with short irons, and when he did, he chipped in twice. He three-putted once.
"He does things no one else can do," said Arron Oberholser, who tied for fourth.
Even Woods, usually his own harshest critic, seemed satisfied with his rate of success - averaging more than one major per year in his 11 full seasons as a pro.
"I've exceeded my own expectations," he said.
Those expectations should continue to grow as the gap between Nicklaus and Wood shrinks.
Since a stretch beginning in 2002 when he failed to win a major in 10 starts, Woods has won five of 12.
If he stays at that pace, he could tie Nicklaus at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, then go for the record the following April at the Masters Tournament.
Woods will be 35 years old in December of 2010. Nicklaus was 46 in 1986 when he won the Masters for his 18th major.
Woods continues to act deferential when it comes to his hero and breaking the most honored record in golf.
To hear Woods talk, it might take Herculean efforts.
"It's going to take some time," he said. "It took Jack 20-plus years to get it done. Hopefully, health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, one day I'll surpass that."
RATINGS GET BOOST
NEW YORK - Tiger Woods once again drew strong ratings when he was in contention, though not as high as in the past.
The final round of Woods' fourth PGA Championship victory on Sunday earned CBS an overnight rating of 6.8 and a 15 share, the fifth-highest rating in the metered markets since 1986.
It didn't match Woods' previous PGA Championships wins in 1999 (7.7/18), 2000 (10.0/23) and 2006 (7.2/16).