Tiger eyeing Nicklaus's 18

2013-04-09 22:18
Tiger Woods (AP)

Augusta -  Tiger Woods says he is enjoying a more balanced life in many ways, but his hunger to overtake Jack Nicklaus's career record of 18 major golf titles remains as great as ever.

"I would like to be able to get to that point," Woods said on Tuesday. "It took Jack a while to get to 18, all the way until he was 46 years old, so there's plenty of opportunities for me."

The 37-year-old American seeks his 15th major title starting on Thursday in the 77th Masters at Augusta National, where Woods has won four times but has not taken home the green jacket since 2005.

Woods has not won any major title since the 2008 US Open, hindered by nagging leg injuries and an infamous sex scandal that led to a divorce, but he has won three times this year and hopes to end his major drought.

"It would be nice," Woods said. "I'm certainly looking forward to the opportunity."

World No 1 Woods made it clear that he thinks that, on the verge of his 19th Masters start, he is only halfway through his career and that he will have many more years to chase his boyhood dream of passing Nicklaus.

"That's one of the neat things about our career - it's so long," Woods said. "We have an opportunity to play basically 30 years solidly at a high level. Some of the guys come out here at 20 and have done well into their 50s.

"We have very expansive careers and I feel like I'm basically right in the middle of mine. I have a lot of good years ahead of me and I'm excited about this week."

Woods revealed last month his new girlfriend is US ski star Lindsey Vonn and on Tuesday showed a more relaxed side than in a typical Masters week.

"I think life is all about having a balance and trying to find equilibrium and not getting things one way or the other and I feel very balanced," Woods said. "It's just a balance in life and I think that's what you're seeing."

There clearly is something to see, a lighter tone than Woods has adopted, partly from the fact he made himself the man to beat this week with wins at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill and stronger putting than he has had in years.

"I feel comfortable with every aspect of my game," Woods said. "I feel that I've improved and I've got more consistent and I think the wins show that.

"It's something that I'm proud of so far this year and hopefully I can continue it this week and the rest of the year."

Woods said that he stopped playing early morning practice rounds in favour of later sessions this week because he "just wanted to mess with (reporters). Did it work? Maybe?"

Woods pondered being an elder statesman at Augusta as an honourary starter the way Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player are this year.

"What's the minimum age, 70-plus?" Woods said with a smile. "Jack's the youngest right now. Yeah, that's a long time. Let me just try to get to 40 first."

Woods even admitted that he has never won a major since growing his goatee.

"Because it takes a long time for this thing to grow, you know," he said.

Woods, whose 77 career victories are five shy of Sam Snead's all-time US PGA Tour record, says life is better since he became a father, having two children with ex-wife Elin Nordegren.

"Life is better since I've had kids," Woods said. "That's the joy in life and to be able to be a part of their life, watch them grow and help them grow."

Woods even addressed controversial situations, saying Augusta National's admitting of two women members, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore, was "the right timing" even though the club only made the move last year.

"I think it's just fantastic," Woods said. "And the timing was right."

Woods also referenced the Nike advertisement using his phrase "Winning fixes everything" in the wake of his recent success and his infamous sex scandal that became public in late 2009.

"I've said that since the beginning of my career," Woods said. "That was an old quote that Nike put out there and people jumped on it."

Read more on:    masters  |  pga tour  |  jack nicklaus  |  tiger woods  |  golf

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