As soon as Tiger Woods won The Masters in 1997 as a 21-year-old, it’s safe to say that most of the golf world thought it was only a matter of time before he broke Jack Nicklaus‘ record of 18 major championship victories. And he was certainly on pace to do so at one point.
Actually, even before Tiger’s historic win at Augusta, tales were told of how Woods had a poster of Jack’s 18 major wins on his wall as a way to motivate himself as he grew up, which was the narrative for a long time and is actually still believed by some people today. However, a few years back, Tiger Woods himself dispelled that theory so we thought we’d revisit that here today.
Tiger Woods was well on his way to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship wins
It was always going to be difficult for Tiger Woods — or anyone for that matter — to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship wins. But given how dominant Woods was over the first 12 years of his career, it became more of a “not if, but when” situation.
After Tiger’s historic win at The Masters in ’97, it took almost two years for him to win another major as he underwent a swing reconstruction. He still won some tournaments during that two-year period and finally broke through with his second major win at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah. And what followed was absolutely incredible.
In 2000, which many see as the greatest individual season in golf history, Tiger won the U.S. Open by 15 shots, The Open Championship by eight shots, and then won his second consecutive PGA Championship by outlasting Bob May in a duel for the ages at Valhalla. Woods then completed the “Tiger Slam” in 2001 with his win at The Masters, which he won again in 2002, a season in which he also won his second U.S. Open.
After not winning a major in 2003 or 2004, Tiger got back on track with a dramatic win at Augusta in 2005 and won a second major that season with another Open Championship victory at St. Andrews. Woods won The Open again in 2006, also winning the PGA Championship, which he won for a fourth time in 2007. He collected major No. 14 in 2008 with a victory at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which he famously won with a broken leg. Woods was still just 32 years old at that time and was well ahead of Nicklaus’ pace.
But we all know what happened then.
Woods went nearly 11 years without a major championship win
Once Tiger Woods returned to golf in 2009 following knee surgery after that gutsy win at Torrey Pines, he picked up right where he left off as the most dominant golfer on the planet.
He won his third tournament back and picked up four more victories before teeing it up at the ’09 PGA Championship at Hazeltine, where he held the 54-hole lead, which was pretty much a guarantee that major No. 15 was in the big as he’d never lost a major in which he was leading heading into the final round. But a 75 on Sunday dashed those hopes as Y.E. Yang ran him down to win his first and only major title.
Just a few months later, the cheating scandal broke, which obviously hindered his career for a bit, and as the 2010s rolled along, he won some tournaments but no majors and then suffered a series of back injuries that nearly ended his career altogether.
After winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013, Woods didn’t win again until more than five years later at the 2018 Tour Championship. And after close to 11 years without a major championship win, Tiger finally got No. 15 when he won The Masters for a fifth time in 2019.
Sadly, it will likely be a while — if ever — before we see Tiger Woods continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record following the single-car accident back in February that left him with multiple leg injuries.
Tiger Woods never had a poster of Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship wins on his wall
So about that poster.
As mentioned earlier, the long-running theory was that Tiger Woods had a poster of Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship wins on his bedroom wall as a youngster as a way to motivate himself.
However, in a past interview with Time, Woods himself set the record straight. Yes, he did have a list of Nicklaus’ accomplishments on his wall — just not the ones everybody thought.
“O.K., here’s the major misconception that people have all gotten wrong. It’s what was posted on my wall, about Jack’s records. It was not the majors, O.K.. There was one on there. It was the first time he broke 40, the first time he broke 80, the first golf tournament he ever won, first time he ever won the state amateur, first time he won the U.S. Amateur, and the first time he won the U.S. Open. That was it. That was the list. It was all age-related.”Tiger Woods on the Jack Nicklaus poster on his wall
So there you have it.