SAN DIEGO — Too bad Tiger Woods can’t go back in time and expand that chart of Jack Nicklaus he taped to his bedroom wall as a teenager.
One point of clarification – it was never about 18 majors.
Woods once said the chart contained only four or five items constructed in a timeline, such as when Nicklaus started playing, how long before he first broke 40 for nine holes, when he won his first U.S. Amateur and when he turned pro.
“It was just a benchmark for me growing up,” Woods said in Australia a few years ago. “Here’s the greatest player of all time and this is what he did when he was 13, 17, 18. As a junior, you’re always trying to compare yourself to, ‘When did he do it?’ And hopefully, I can do something a little bit better and maybe that might springboard myself into having a good career.”
Here are two more items he could have added to the list:
• Woods didn’t shoot in the 80s for the first time until his 130th stroke-play tournament as a pro. Nicklaus first shot 80 in his seventh tournament. In fact, Saturday at Torrey Pines was only the fifth round in Woods’ career of 79 or worse. Nicklaus had four in his rookie season alone.
• Woods went 37 majors as a pro before he finally missed a cut, in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Nicklaus missed his first cut in his sixth major, the 1963 U.S. Open at Brookline, when he was the defending champion.
Woods was at Oakmont for a corporate day a few months before the 2007 U.S. Open when the conversation turned to his missed cut at Winged Foot. The surprise was not that he missed the cut, but that it took nearly 10 years to happen.
“You figure you’re going to have one bad week,” he said.
It was surprising that it happened to him last week, especially at Torrey Pines, where he had won eight times. It was only his fourth round over par on the South Course for that tournament. Two of those rounds were in 2011, when he was just starting to rebuild his swing.
Last Saturday, he was in reasonable position in the tournament until his meltdown began with a shot into the pond on the par-5 18th for a double bogey.
Woods was between 3-iron and 5-wood, tried to take a little off the 5-wood, paid the price and “it snowballed from there.” He had seven consecutive holes of bogey or worse.
“Unfortunately,” he said Tuesday, “the longer you play the sport, the more things like that happen.”
Or maybe Father Time is catching up with him.
Johnny Miller, in a book he wrote in 2004 titled, I Call The Shots, was making arguments on both sides of Woods breaking Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. One reason against Woods breaking the record was that “competitively, he’s an old 28.”
Is he now an old 38?
Everyone has bad days.
It just seems like Woods has more of them than he once did.