Padraig Harrington has won three Major Championships and that is 11 less than Tiger Woods.
Harringtons last Major victory, like Woods, was in 2008 when capturing the PGA Championship after Woods claimed a 14th Major months earlier that year at the U.S. Open.
This year then will mark 10-years since Woods last won a Major Championship and with some observers believing Woods, and now age 42, can still break Jack Nicklaus record of 18 Major victories.
But after chatting with Woods on at least two occasions this year, Harrington is of the opinion it should make no difference to Woods if he were to win 14, 18 or break ‘The Golden Bear’s’ record in winning 19 Majors.
“Winning 15 Majors would make no difference to winning 14, 18 or 19 Majors,” said Harrington.
“It wouldn’t as winning 14 or 15, it’s still a great career. You know, at the end of the day, Tiger’s the best golfer we’ll ever physically see.
“The fact he didn’t get to 18 Majors means Jack is the best, you know, performance. That’s kind of the way I would look at it.
“There’s two different things but then I do believe Tiger will win another major.
“But will he get to 18 Majors? I think the odds would be against him getting to 18, but I would be pretty sure, if you look at any of the great players in the game of golf, they always won a major later in their career when they — like Jack’s last major came six years after; he effectively retired in 1980, he really showed down his schedule and he won in 1986.
“I do see that happening a lot.”
Harrington and Woods have always got on well and that’s always be obvious whenever they’ve been paired together and even when the pair have been opponents at a Ryder Cup.
And Harrington is correct in his assumption Woods has mellowed in the years since his last Major victory in June 2008 at Torrey Pines.
That was no more evident in August 2016 when he made his debut at the Wyndham Championship, and with Woods stopping to sign autographs and even have his photo taken with course marshals and this was a practice that was rarely in place when Woods dominated the ancient game.
We’ve seen that since Woods return to official competition in spending quality time post-round to sign autographs for his younger brigade of younger supporters.
“Tiger has changed as a person just as much as I’ve changed as a person,” said Harrington.
“I’ll give you a quick example. At Torrey Pines, Tiger would have come on to any range in his heyday and he’d walk on that range, he’d nod respectfully at whoever, and he would go and do his work. He’d have his manager standing right behind him deflecting everybody away from getting near him.
“He came on the range at Torrey Pines. He high-fived a few people, had a few chats. Stopped and had a couple of chats with me. He was enjoying himself. No sign of his manager or anything like that. It was just him and obviously the media entourage but him enjoying and that was really it. He was relaxed and enjoying himself.
“Clearly he’s not — he doesn’t have the intensity that he had ten years ago. That intensity ten years ago, certainly, that intensity ten years ago certainly created an aura.
“He’s mellowed. That’s just the way he has changed. And can he be the guy he was ten years ago, just like me? He can’t be.
“Things have changed in who he is as a person. So that’s one. Clearly, physically, watching, a year ago, you would have said physically he didn’t have the game to come back and win. But he certainly has it now. He’s hitting the ball — if you turned around and gave most of the field his game, they would be so chuffed with it that they go out and win straightaway with it.
“Tiger’s game to him will never feel like it was back in the heyday and when you’re used to hitting shots that are ten out of ten and now he’s hitting nine out of ten, it doesn’t feel as good. If you were used to hitting shots at an eight and now you’re hitting it Tiger like a nine out of ten, you’d be loving it.
“If I turned around and hit the golf ball like Tiger Woods this week, I’d win because I’d love it. If Tiger Woods turns around and hits it like that, he may win but it won’t feel as good as it did back in the day. That’s what he has to deal with. He’s never going to have the same feel as or be as good as he was back in his heyday.
“And he would have been better in his heyday if had more good players around him to push him in early 2000.
“He got very conservative after 2001 because he could win with a conservative game. Before that, he used to hit some spectacular shots, and I think you would have seen more of that if there were more good players around him to keep pushing him.
“But going back to him today, you know, he’s like myself. He’s out here. You see him, as I said, talking and enjoying being out here more and the camaraderie that’s out here rather than back in the day, it was very much business. So yeah, he’s a different person.
“There’s many things you see in Tiger Woods to have changed and the one thing he can’t do is try to be the person he was 15 years ago. He has to try and be the version he is now and that’s plenty good enough to win tournaments. It’s plenty good enough to win major tournaments.
“It mightn’t be the game that he had back in the day that was good on demand, but you know, it’s certainly good enough, as I said.
“So, there’s many of us would love to be in his shoes in any given week and have his ability and we would feel good about it.”