Tiger Woods celebrated his 41st birthday, the 14-time major winner having already made a comeback from a 466-day back surgery layoff with hopes of recapturing success.
Woods was inconsistent over 72 holes at the Hero World Challenge, an 18-man Bahamas event in early December to benefit his charity foundation, and fan interest remains high even though he has only showed glimpses of the form that made him a must-see attraction for years.
While saying he still has designs on the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, Woods would be bucking the odds to catch his boyhood idol.
Old Tom Morris won three British Opens at 41 or older in the 1860s and remains the lone three-time major winner beyond his 41st birthday.
Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner by taking his last green jacket in 1986, while Julius Boros is the oldest major winner, taking the 1968 PGA Championship at age 48. Boros, Harry Vardon and Woods’s pal Mark O’Meara each won two majors after turning 41.
British Opens have produced three champions in the past six years who were 41 or older with Swede Henrik Stenson at 40 when he took the Claret Jug in 2016.
Woods has said he will play at Riviera in February at another event hosted by his foundation, although he did not rule out another appearance earlier in 2017 or give any hint about other tuneup plans for the Masters in April.
Woods last won a major title at the 2008 US Open and last won any title at the 2013 WGC event in Akron, Ohio as he triesto win three more career PGA titles to match the record 82 won by Sam Snead.
In addition to finding his form, Woods will face in 2017 a new generation of players such as top-ranked Australian Jason Day, two-time major champion Jordan Spieth, rising Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner needing only a Masters green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam.
Woods tweeted Friday “Hoping StanfordFball gives me a win for my birthday” before his college’s American football side, the Stanford Cardinal, kicked off against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.
Woods got his birthday wish as Stanford edged the Tar Heels 25-23 at El Paso, Texas.