WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flash Flood Watch - Flood Advisory View Alerts

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: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 104°
Occasional areas of rain and some scattered thunderstorms will be in store for most of the weekend. However, good news by later sections of next week, as cooler and drier air will work its way into our weather forecast.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather