Tiger Woods on track for 15th major, says close friend Notah Begay

Tiger Woods may have to battle a bit harder for his next major victory but a 15th title is "not out of the r...

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 12:23 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 12:23 PM

Tiger Woods may have to battle a bit harder for his next major victory but a 15th title is "not out of the realms of possibility," according to one of his best friends Notah Begay.

The former world No. 1 ended the 2018 season on a high with victory in the Tour Championship at East Lake for his first win in five years after overcoming four back surgeries.

Arts and entertainment

Golf

Sports and recreation

Sports figures

Television programming

Tiger Woods

Woods, who will turn 43 on December 26, took his tally of PGA Tour wins to 80, two behind the all-time record of Sam Snead, but it is Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles that he has long coveted.

Many thought his multiple back injuries had put paid to that, but Begay, Woods' college roommate at Stanford, says the pursuit of Nicklaus is back on the agenda.

"I think now the first win is out of the way he is focused on getting off 14 [major wins] and on to 15," four-time PGA Tour winner Begay told CNN Sport.

"I do not think that's out of the realm of possibility."

Woods underwent spine fusion surgery in April 2017, paving the way for a remarkable comeback this season in which he briefly led the Open with nine holes to play before finishing sixth and came second at August's US PGA.

He scored three other top-five finishes, and led September's season-ending Tour Championship from start to finish..

Woods famously won all 14 of his major titles when leading after 54 holes but Begay says he will have to get better at coming out of the pack on the final day if he wants to add to his total.

"I don't think he has as much firepower as he used to have and can go out there and dominate like we saw him in so many of his other major championships," said Begay, the only full-blood native American on the Tour.

"I think it's going to be a little tighter and in some cases he may have to come from behind after 54 holes which he hasn't really been very good at in his career."

'Big impact'

Begay is one of the few people in Woods' inner circle, and he admits he feared his friend's career was over.

"I was sat in his living room right after the first surgery [in March 2014] and he was moving around like an 85-year-old man," he says. "I literally thought the career of the greatest golfer I'd ever known and one of my dearest friends in the world was coming to an end."

Woods has been open about the "dark times" he faced, which is why his comeback has been so remarkable, says Begay, who now works as an analyst for Golf Channel.

"We were about two weeks removed from that victory at East Lake and I got a text from Tiger one morning and it was simply like, 'I can't believe I won my 80th golf tournament,'" he added.

"It still hasn't settled with him, so that's how big an impact it made on him personally and the ripple effect it's having on our game is extreme -- the economic benefits, the TV ratings, the interest in the game."

The footage of vast crowds stampeding after Woods as he wrapped up his East Lake win were a throwback to his heyday in the early 2000s. TV ratings were up 206% on last year and the coverage yielded the highest rating for a non-major all year, third only to the Masters and the PGA Championship in which he chased home Brooks Koepka.

"Half the people watch because they're waiting for a train wreck or want to see him fail, and the other half want to be inspired and relive those historic wins that he had in '97 at the Masters or 2000 at Pebble Beach in the US Open," added Begay.

"Those are nostalgic-type victories that make people that are at different points in their lives remember just how fun sports and golf and Tiger Woods made watching golf."

READ: How a WhatsApp "love-in" and tattoo pledge inspired Europe in Ryder Cup

Since his last major victory at the 2008 US Open, Woods has gone through scandal in his private life, divorce, injuries and an issue with his medications for back pain which led to a driving-under-the-influence charge in May 2018.

His back story makes him even more compelling, says Begay.

"All of the distractions and challenges Tiger has had off the golf course not only brought in more people to take an interest in whether or not he's going to make the cut or make the putt or win the tournament and you see it in the TV ratings," he says.

"There's not a single player, not even close, that can drive ratings like Tiger Woods. He doesn't have to win, he just has to tee it up."

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news, features and videos

Despite failing to help the USA retain the Ryder Cup in France in September, all eyes will be on Woods when he tees it up again in 2019 with history beckoning.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 63°
Low pressure off to the west of our area and high pressure to the east over the next few days. In between, in our area the battle will linger some scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms for a few more days.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather