Tiger Woods has a shot to catch Jack Nicklaus after splendid first round at the Masters

Tiger Woods is still chasing history
Tiger Woods is still chasing history / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is 54 and still grinding for a chance at history -- catching Jack Nicklaus for the most majors in PGA history.

In the early part of his career, it seemed certain that Tiger Woods would not just pass Jack Nicklaus for the most major championships in PGA history, but that he would bury the record. Woods famously won his first major, The Masters, in 1997 at the age of 21. Over the next 11 years he added 13 more major championships, along the way becoming the only golfer ever to win all four in a row.

But personal problems mounted, injuries took their toll and there was an 11-year gap between his 14th major (the 2008 U.S. Open) and his 15th (the 2019 Masters). Woods hasn't picked up the pace much but his 2024 win at the U.S. Open and his 2028 title at the PGA Championship now put him just one title behind Nicklaus. And, by the look of things, he may get there this week.

Woods has been on a hot streak this year picking up several tournament wins and looking as sharp as he has in years. He arrived in Augusta optimistic that this could be the year and the cooler weather of The Masters (which was permanently moved to the fall after the 2020 coronavirus outbreak) generally plays in his favor.

Woods looked strong in practice rounds and downright spectacular today in his first round. He finished play having shot a 66 (-6), leading the field by two strokes. Augusta has added quite a bit of distance over the past decade, as players have gotten stronger and advances in training technology and equipment have made everyone longer off the tee -- the course measured 7,475 yards when Woods won in 2019 but now sits at 8,017.

An increasingly refined short-game has helped Woods stay competitive, making up for whatever he's lost on his drive over the years. This was particularly evident with his soft birdie saves on No. 13 and No. 15 as he closed out the round.

There is still a lot of golf left to be played and Jordan Spieth (-1), Rory McIlroy (+1) and Bryson DeChambeau (-3) are all still within striking distance. But something feels special about Woods at the Masters, that subtle electricity, the feeling that something historic might happen at any moment.

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