|Tiger Woods smiles during a news conference before the start of the AT&T National golf tournament at the Aronimink Golf course in Newtown Square, Penn., June 28, 2011. (TIM SHAFFER/Reuters)
Injured Tiger Woods said on Tuesday his best golfing years are ahead of him and he has plenty of time to attain his goal of surpassing the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus.
While Woods, who has struggled on and off the course for the last 19 months, missed this year’s U.S. Open with injuries and is unsure whether he will play in July’s British Open, the 35-year-old American does not feel like like the majors record is moving beyond his grasp.
“Absolutely not. He won when he was 46, right?” Woods said about the Golden Bear, who won his final major at that age in 1986. “I’ve still got some time.
“And on top of that, we’re about the same pace, I believe, years on tour and majors won. So I feel pretty confident of what my future holds and very excited about it.“
Nicklaus won 14 majors through his 35th birthday, the same number that Woods has.
Woods, who aggravated a ligament injury in his left knee and Achilles tendon he suffered at the Masters by trying to compete in the Players Championship in May, said he learned a lesson and would not return until he was 100 percent fit.
“I’m excited about coming out here and being ready to go instead of trying to kind of patch it, which I’ve been for a while,“ Woods told a news conference at the AT&T National PGA event he is hosting this week.
Woods, who has since fallen to world number 17, noted that Tom Watson showed how long a great player could compete in the majors with his runner-up finish at age 59 in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, which he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
“I’m 35. I’m not 65,“ said Woods. “I’ve still got some years ahead of me. Golf is unlike any other sport. I mean, Watson was, what, 59 years old when he almost won? We can play for a very long time. And given that we have the health to do it, guys have succeeded for a very long time.
“That’s what I would like to do, play this game for as long as I want to. I feel like my best years are still ahead of me.” (Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email