Jack's majors record looks safer all the time

Now comes the news Tiger Woods will miss The Masters with a back injury.

And now — for the first time since Tiger won The Masters by 12 shots as a 21-year-old (17 years ago) — I seriously doubt Tiger will break Jack Nicklaus’s career record of 18 major championships. Tiger has 14. He has been stuck on 14 since winning the 2008 U.S. Open. We are talking about nearly six years ago.

With a healthy body, Tiger still had a shot. With a bad back, he needs a miracle. I just don’t think he will do it.

I am not alone. Former tour player, Jacksonian Randy Watkins, has been a huge Tiger Woods fan over the years. Watkins, who knows a thing or two about both golf and bad backs, has become a doubter, too.

“Tiger’s body seems to be falling apart on him,” Watkins said. “Knee injuries, wrist injuries and such as that are one thing; the back is entirely another.”

Watkins, who at 16 won the U.S. junior championship, has had a career ravaged by back injuries. He had had five back surgeries, including four micro-discectomies. (Tiger just had his first.)

Tiger’s violent swing, overflowing in torque, becomes the worst enemy of his comeback.

“You look at a guy like Freddie Couples who has overcome some bad back problems, and there’s a huge difference,” Watkins said. “Couples has this silky, smooth swing. He’s more of a sweeper as far as his ball-striking. There’s nothing silky about Tiger. He’s a digger, not a sweeper. There’s a huge, huge difference in the wear and tear on his back.”

Watkins believes people underestimate how Woods’ putting — the best part of his game — will be affected.

“Only people with back problems will understand this, but nothing strains your back more than spending an hour or two on the practice green,” Watkins said. “And you don’t putt the way he does without spending an awful lot of time on the practice green.

“I’ve always thought that Tigers greatest assets were his heart, his brain and his putter,” Watkins said. “A bad back affects everything and not in a good way.”

Woods, with 79 tour victories, is three short of Sammy Snead’s record of 82.

“I still think he’ll get that one,” Watkins said. “He’s going to play in a lot more tournaments, but you have to remember there are only four majors a year. Jack Nicklaus won his last at 46. Do the math. Tiger doesn’t have that many more chances.”

It seems inconceivable. Seventeen years ago, I didn’t think there was any doubt Woods would break Nicklaus’s record. To be honest, I thought he might win 18 green jackets.

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Coming soon to Live Oaks Golf Club, the Kent Hull Memorial.

 

 

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