He did it, and in my lifetime I saw him do it. For 23 years Tiger Woods has pursued the number 18, the number of Major Golf Championships won by Jack Nicklaus. Woods is still working on that record; he has 15 Majors.
The number 82 in sports is an iconic number like 18, 3, 42, 23, and 56, all symbols of remarkable achievements either worn by great sports figures or records achieved that have stood the test of time. The number 3 was worn by Babe Ruth, 42 belongs to Jackie Robinson, and 23 belongs to Michael Jordan. The number 56 was New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio’s all-time hit streak.
In golf, 82 has stood much longer than the number 18 in golf, because Sam Snead and his 82 career wins on the PGA Tour has for 54 years been that record that nobody even remotely thought someone could break.
“I certainly did not think it was possible when I first started my career,” said Woods. It took Snead over 450 tournaments to reach 82 at age 52. Tiger has played in 350 tournaments with 82 career wins—that’s 22.5 percent.
Ben Hogan won 62 times, Arnold Palmer won 64, and Jack Nicklaus 73. Woods winning is not a shock to me despite his self-inflicted issues that cost him his marriage and shattered his perfect image years ago.
Then came the physical issues like four back surgeries and four knee surgeries that have collectively hurt this great man. When he is not in contention, I have never assumed that he could not win, but I knew it would make it more challenging for him to win.
It’s been great to see him find his game, overcome the pain, keep working, and figure it out to take advantage of all that he has achieved and prove again he’s the best. As a fan and journalist and friend, we understand. At 43 years old he can still win.
The PGA Tour is deep and talented, and Woods is now ranked number-six in the world. He has won three times now in the last 14 months, and he’s the captain of the 2019 U.S. President’s Cup team, which plays the International team in December in Australia. His victory over the weekend was his first tournament in nine weeks.
It’s also the ninth time in his career that he’s won his first tournament of the year. He overcame dealing with a typhoon in Japan and five days of golf in the heat of the first-ever PGA tournament ZOZO Championship in Japan, almost certainly he’ll select himself for that President’s Cup team. Winning with a 291 score (64-64-66-67), -19, is what Tiger has used to prove his point despite the obstacles.
Woods is relevant now and can still win, and he is in position to maybe qualify to be among the four Americans selected to play in next summer’s Olympic Games.